DrKPI’s 2019 trends: What Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon worry about

Summary: The Trump administration’s tougher stance on China will surely continue to curtail global trade.
Apple CEO Tim Cook’s letter to shareholders in 2019 blames weaker economies and trade tension for lower revenues.
What it all means for marketers, strategists, and investors.
Read #DrKPI’s 11 trends for 2019 and get the insight story!

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Creating buzz is of interest to any brand manager I have talked to recently, but it keeps getting harder and harder to get it right. In the recent past, social media was useful to reach certain client groups. But will it still work tomorrow?

Remember Second Life? In Spring 2008, Madagascar and Sweden each raced to open a virtual embassy on the platform. By 2012 Flickr was a popular photo sharing site. Today, Instagram has surpassed it.

BMW and others spent plenty to engage with users on Second Life. And today? The platform still exists, but most large brands have pretty much withdrawn from it. If that isn’t enough to convince you that putting your bet on one or two platforms is risky, Beebo was once a formidable Facebook competitor – and who remembers MySpace?

Our past predictions covered these changes with 78% accuracy.

For 2019, we again address the trends in marketing and business policy as we expect them to unfold and why this matters to investors.

Just click on the hyperlinked points below to read more.

♥ Curious? Join 1,500 other subscribers to this blog’s newsletter and read on!

1. How things were…

One way to get more buzz, in theory, is getting customers involved. In the past, some companies like Starbucks did it on their Facebook page. A popular way to get more likes or comments was giving people free goodies or coupons to get their next cuppa for free.

Long before that became so boring, however, Fast Retailing in Japan invited clients and bloggers to produce their own short videos.

Sounds stale, but in summer 2007 this was innovative and a creative way to get buzz on social media. In particular, it got those target audiences involved – the same people that were supposed to flock to your outlets when the new line of apparel went on sale in your stores.

The company produced a whole series of videos that bloggers were invited to show on their own blogs.

What was innovative was that it produced plenty of content, including videos, photos, text, and so forth. Most important, it was easy for bloggers to embed such fan-produced content along with their own blog posts.

In 2007, shared content and using a press campaign to launch a new line of apparel got attention, but will it suffice 12 years later in 2019? Of course not!

Much has changed since then.

Go back in time with UNIQLO new media promotion or view it on Fast Retailing’s webpage, where it is still shown (a very good thing). Or visit the Uniqlo international retailer website – no news is good news?. See also Fast Retailing cuts profit guidance for third time in 2016.

2. Broadcasting was, is, and continues to be… OUT

Private as well as corporate blogs have been with us for some time. But around 2011 many companies started to focus on social networks instead of corporate blogs. Since 2016, fast-growing and large companies seem to have rediscovered public-facing corporate blogs, however:

  • 55% of Inc. 500 – the fastest growing companies in the US – use blogs, the third yearly increase since 2015.
  • 53% of Fortune 500 companies use blogs, an 11% increase since 2017.
53% of Fortune 500 and 55% of Inc. 500 firms in the US have public-facing blogs. Source: Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth.
53% of Fortune 500 and 55% of Inc. 500 firms in the US have public-facing blogs. Source: Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth.

While blogs have regained momentum in the US, in Europe several companies and charities have orphaned their blogs (Caritas Zurich), or taken them down completely (e.g., Möbel-Pfister, Oxfam).

The primary reason may be a lack of understanding of how important blog content can be for branding, SEO (search engine optimisation), and getting increasing engagement from your target audience. Some had their budget reallocated or began re-focusing on their press releases.

Other misunderstandings about corporate blogs’ potential for getting your target audience’s attention can be:

  1. Believing your target audience cares about company events or new products, and
  2. thinking high-quality content requires neither time, investigation nor a writer that really understands the topic.

As well, the novelty of commenting on corporate blog sites, especially considering boring content, has long since worn off. As we know at DrKPI, it takes effort to get reader comments – i.e. engagement – for your corporate blogs.

When producing content like videos, for example, just ask these two questions:

  1. Why should your target reader view your content and spend time writing a comment?
  2. Are you answering these comments? If so, are you doing it in the right way? If you get comments, a thoughtful answer of each one is a must to show respect and appreciation for your reader or viewer.

So some people are falling back into behaviour from the lates 1990 and early 2000s: Broadcast and many will listen. Really? I don’t think so!

3. #Crowdsourcing can matter

Crowdsourcing can mean many things. One example is Patek Philippe and Beyer Chronometrie (the oldest watch shop in Switzerland). They invited the latter’s employees to create buzz and attention with customers.

35 submissions from Beyer Chronometrie employees were made in the contest for the best design. One employee’s design was chosen as the winner of this contest.

The winner’s design was then used to produce a luxury Dom-Pendulette of which Patek Philippe only produces a few each year. Unfortunately, whatever else the employee may have received and whether she did her designing during work hours at Beyer Chronometrie is not known.

In this case, Beyer Chronometrie did a write-up in its magazine that is available online. It was also mailed in print form to clients. (Picture taken from the Beyer magazine, Beyond, Nr. 22 / 2016 – page 50 shows the winner of the design contest with the completed Dom-Pendulette.)

Patek Philippe CEO Thierry Stern and René Beyer had the idea to get Beyer employees to design samples, with the winner used to create a luxury Dom-Pendulette. #Crowdsourcing to create #BrandBuzz (via print media, etc.).
Patek Philippe CEO Thierry Stern and René Beyer had the idea to get Beyer employees to design samples, with the winner used to create a luxury Dom-Pendulette.
#Crowdsourcing was used to create #BrandBuzz (via print media, etc.).

This is certainly an attractive approach for creating synergies between the manufacturer and the retailer. The latter’s employees may even create brand buzz, if they share their experience on the web.

However, it continues to be ever harder to stand out to your target audience. And even if you do, there’s no guarantee that they’ll spend time with your content.

Incidentally, micro-influencers such as employees or your customers are far more authentic and trustworthy to your target audience than people who sell their services as influencers.

4. The more things change, the more they stay the same

The video shown under point 1 above is just one of many options that companies were and still are using to get their customers involved in campaigns. In 2007, Uniqlo was able to get quite a lot of #brandbuzz for its Fall collection release.

But in 2019 this will not be good enough.

2019 trends that are known facts

What we know

a) Seen that, have the t-shirt

Many users are inundated with ads, content, news tickers, and so on. The content must be good enough so people want to share it.
Creating something that sticks in people’s minds is a challenge for any brand or company AND it is getting even tougher.

b) People always want more for less

Some younger consumers may not want to pay to attend an event that is being sponsored by a brand. And even if it is free, they may not be satisfied with what they get.

Incidentally, millennials (born 1981 – 1997) are not that different than the older generation when it comes to consumer habits. BUT they are the first generation since 1950 to be worse off than their parents (see OECD data).

c) Sharing economy grows as market domination is on the rise

Ever more people use AirBnB, Uber and many other services. As these companies try to optimize their tax bill, free-riding by companies avoiding taxes and social insurance contributions is increasing (see also point 8 and 9 below).

While consumers want the best deal from companies shirking their social responsibilities, they fight for secure jobs with lots of fringe benefits and lower gas taxes – France’s Yellow Shirt demonstrators. Oddly enough, consumers seem to be comfortable with these seemingly conflicting standpoints.

Millennials in OECD countries have less real disposable income than their parents - by DrKPI
Millennials in OECD countries have less real disposable income than their parents – by DrKPI

As the above graphic indicates, real wages and therefore also real disposable income have hardly increased. This means millennials might be strapped for cash in some cities (e.g., New York, Paris or Munich), were apartment prices, public transport, as well as entertainment costs eat up much of the disposable earnings available. In turn, not having a car may be as much an economic decision as an evironmental one.

3 trends that matter to savvy marketers

TRENDS that we should take into consideration

4. 1990 was about webpage strategy, today a hashtag strategy is a must

In 1990 some early adopters started to add their URLs and email addresses to a business card or company stationary. Today a company needs to use hashtags in content, on social media posts, in blogs, and everywhere else.

Using a hashtag such as#ccTiM for Competence Circle Technology and Innovation Management, or #DrKPI for our own brand is a start. For starters, just using a hashtag in a print ad would suggest your c-suite fails to understand the digital economy and search marketing. Not a good thing – you’ve got some educating to do.

Actress Jane Fonda, the 1980s fitness queen made videos that millions of people purchased and used to stay fit. Nevertheless, she neither had a webpage nor a hashtag strategy.

A very different example is Kayla Itsines. She is neither called an actress nor a fitness trainer, but most experts and media call her an influencer. Nevertheless, she has built a virtual fitness conglomerate with more than 22 million fans, partly using social media. Hashtags are part of her marketing strategy, such as.

  • #DeathbyKayla are selfies posted by her fans after having done a strenuous training session, or
  • #KaylasArmy and #BBG (Bikini Body Guide), which are both about her fans’ training progress and successes.

More info: #MCLago – 2018 Hashtag strategy makes the difference

5. #Crowdsourcing must be carefully managed

We all want the crowd to help us, but morals and ethics must also play a part. For example, it is unhelpful if the public, customers or employees perceive the situation as exploiting one’s employees.

Getting the latter involved is one thing, but making their sharing of content on social media a must threatens the authenticity of your brand, an, in turn, the trust of your customers (see image below).

More info: #helpIlayda crowdfunding campagin: The interview

6. Experiential word-of-mouth marketing is critical to protect brands

Word-of-mouth is helpful for spreading the word about a position at your organisation. Of course, your employer appreciates if you love your brand, spread cheers, and maybe help raise awareness about it on your Instagram account.

But ever more important is that clients that have used or experienced your product, service, etc. talk about their great experience. Even if things go wrong, take care of the problem, learn from your mistakes – and talk / write about it!

Both Jane Fonda and Kayla Itsines are both successful in business. But Kayla uses Word-of-mouth (#WOM) marketing and #crowdsourcing (including hashtags #DeathbyKayla and #BBG) to spread her virtual fitness empire around the globe (see also point 4). She is called an influencer while Jane Fonda was ‘only’ an actress. But what’s the difference?

Functionality helps improve client's trust in brand, loyalty to brand, and word-of-mouth about the brand - by DrKPI
Functionality helps improve client’s trust in brand, loyalty to brand, and word-of-mouth about the brand – by DrKPI

The above chart shows that building brand strength, trust, awareness, and loyalty can all benefit from word-of-mouth by your customers about how great your product is… such as value for money, innovation, great service. You know the drill.

By the way, just because media houses have rediscovered podcasts does not make this a trend we need to be concerned about. #DrKPI staff did podcasts starting in 2005 until about 2009, when it got a bit boring.

Welcome to the latecomers! And no, your customers or investors will rarely care about your corporate podcasts unless you are Apple’s Steve Cook announcing that you sold less or more than predicted for this quarter…

What Zeitgeist are we living in? 2019 trends that matter

What is just around the corner – watch out, beware, and take care

What Google, Apple, Facebook, or Amazon worry about are the things listed below.

7. Walk-out technology: Aldi, Amazon, BP, Shell, Wal-Mart

Will you shop at your favourite neighbourhood store next Christmas or will “Amazon Go” and stores using other walk-out technology get your hard-earned cash (oops cashless shopping)?

Cameras, sensors, and so on will continue to disrupt your shopping experience. Nevertheless, having a short chat with the cashier is still more enjoyable than scanning the products yourself.

Having purchased overpriced processed or pre-cooked / prepared food at Amazon Go or your gas station convenience store does not make me enjoy shopping. Does it do it for you?

8. 2019: #Blockchain will become boring

Many of the projects launched in 2017 are getting close to getting beyond the prototype. Smart contracts are being put in place to take real advantage of the blockchain (a system of distributed ledgers).

More info: Blockchain – protect your assets – what is a blockchain video

9. #GAFAtax: Nothing is free, and free-riding is out

The Google, Apple, Facebook, and Apple (GAFA) tax went into effect in France on January 1, 2019. The UK intends to follow in 2020 after EU-wide efforts stalled. The French government hopes to raise €500 million with GAFA.

France and other EU member states such as Germany want to tax companies according to where their digital users are based.

On a side note, the past few months have seen Apple’s share price take the sort of fall that would usually result in an Apple Watch calling for an ambulance.

10. People have to care about each other before they care about the environment

All of us, except maybe President Trump, are aware that climate change is causing increasingly severe problems with droughts and storms. Nevertheless, unless we care enough about each other, we will be unwilling to do our share to solve the problem.

Therefore, shopping trips to cities like London or New York, or weekend trips to far away places for adrenalin junkies will continue to increase in 2019.

11.  Google might collapse, Amazon could run the world and Apple?

Ever more people block mobile ads (e.g., with your iPhone) and an ever larger group in North America search for products on Amazon first, not Google.  Also, people have trained themselves to ignore online or mobile ads entirely, a phenomenon that is also called “banner blindness.”

2017 Amazon Web Services (AWS) dominated with a 33.8% global market share. Microsoft, Google and IBM together accounted for 30.8%…
In 2019 AWS is surely gonna account for about 63% of Amazon’s profits (growth continues).

Alexa does well and YouTube/Google are trying to get you to subscribe to all types of content including music and podcasts.
In 2019 Apple’s revenue from services like iMusic, iCloud, AppStore will account for about 20%, compared to today’s 15% of its revenues.

What is clear is that searching for new products are ever more happening on Amazon and more and more users are blocking ads. And while Apple is moving from a hardware provider over to become more of a service one, Google’s search for revenues beyond ads continues.

By the way, regardless of what you do, interesting content is popular – but what is interesting? For instance, US teens care mostly about groups and online forums that have content regarding hobbies such as gaming (41%), humour (40%), pop culture, and sports (both 28%)… position 9 is politics (9%). (Pew Research, Nov. 2018)

5. Have your say – join the conversation

What is your opinion?

  • What important 2019 trends for marketers, strategists, and investors did we forget?
  • Know of other great blog entries on these topics? Provide a URL for our readers in the comments below!
  • When was the last time you shopped for a brand or stayed at a hotel because of your awareness of the brand or positive feelings toward the brand?

Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

The author declares that some of the companies mentioned herein are clients of CyTRAP Labs or subscribers of DrKPI® services.

Thanks for reading. If you liked this one, you should follow me for the next one (or get the RSS feed if you prefer) and learn about another way the market changes.

Urs E. Gattiker

Professor Urs E. Gattiker - DrKPI is corporate Europe's leading social media metrics expert (see his books). He continues to work with start-ups. Urs is CEO of CyTRAP Labs GmbH and President of the Marketing Club Lago, a member of the German Marketing Association (DMV).

4 thoughts on “DrKPI’s 2019 trends: What Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon worry about

  • 8. January 2019 at 13:26
    Permalink

    Dear urs

    Interesting … What about Fake News 🙂

    Hunt, Allcott & Matthew Gentzkow (Spring 2017). Journal of Economic Perspectives, 31(2), pp. 211-236. Retrieved 2018-01-08 from https://web.stanford.edu/~gentzkow/research/fakenews.pdf

    These authors found that fake news simply were not as widely shared, seen or remembered as many people think. Close as the 2016 election was, it is unlikely that these fake news stories swung the election.

    Hence, it seems to me that fake news is not a threat to a democracy, as long as we continue to be willing to pay for quality newspaper content and investigative reporting…

    The phrase is no longer useful but is still being deployed as a political cudgel.

    🙂

    Reply
    • 8. January 2019 at 20:11
      Permalink

      Dear Soto

      Thanks for commenting and providing this very interesting link to Hunt and Gentzkow’s article. Interesting read.

      Thanks so much for this comment. Yes fake news is maybe a possible but if it is a trend, I am not sure.
      I am getting the distinct feeling that fake news as a news item is somewhat a US issue. It probably became the center of attention after Mr Trump’s election. Yes it did swap over into other countries such as UK, DE, etc. And, yes again, even newspaper on this site of the Atlantic made it a major news story.

      https://www.theguardian.com/media/2016/dec/02/fake-news-facebook-us-election-around-the-world

      But by mid 2018 it surely it began to enjoy much less news coverage than previously. I surely hope it will not be a major matter this upcoming year …. i.e. not become a trend.
      Fake news have and will continue to exist but I surely hope not a trend.

      Until next time
      Urs
      #DrKPI #BrandBuzz

      Reply
    • 11. January 2019 at 19:08
      Permalink

      Thanks Susan for stopping by.

      Yes those were the days when we still did Trends on ComMetrics. A while back that was. Interesting is

      1. Managing data bias – starting in December, the company will compare this year’s monthly data with last year and management will request information about possible factors that could influence results (e.g., press coverage, blog post, success in viral marketing – being lucky, and so forth).

      2. Listening to the customer – to improve engagement, the company will put more emphasis on responding to comments made on blog posts and if helpful, approach clients directly to address their concerns. Results will again be reported to the public via the blog.

      3. Building trust – the company intends to better enforce its opt-out policy, whereby white papers, pictures of dresses and so forth can be downloaded by clients, while divulging a minimum of personal information to the company.

      That still applies today and considering our ever bigger use of AI, data bias is becoming an ever bigger issue see here: https://blog.drkpi.com/artificial-intelligence-and-marketing-1/

      Thanks again and have a nice weekend.
      Urs

      Reply

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