Marketing is one of the oldest crafts, being practiced since antiquity. There is evidence of it from the ruins of Pompeii on the site of Mount Vesuvius’ eruption in AD 79, with messages about politicians – their personal qualities and policies – written on the houses of wealthy citizens. In modern parlance, that’s advertising, media planning and location-based targeting all done at one go! What we consider today as sophisticated marketing tactics, were being practiced all long, in some rudimentary form or other. While we look at banner ads as clever inventions of the 1990s, an advertisement for needles dating to the Song dynasty (960-1279 CE) said, “We buy high quality steel rods and make fine quality needles that are ready for use at home in no time.” The ad also contained the image of a rabbit holding a needle, a mascot for the brand or a precursor to a logo!
From those simple beginnings, marketing has never stopped evolving, each time to the next level of sophistication, primarily led by advances in technology. Till date, Marketing has evolved though four paradigms and is now at the verge of the Fifth Paradigm. This time, it will not be an evolution, but a huge disruption.
A slew of new technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual and Augmented Reality, Internet of Things, Wearables, Autonomous vehicles, Blockchains, Smart Speakers, Drones, holographic projections etc. are all coming at us like a tsunami. Each and every single one of these technologies will profoundly impact consumers’ lives as well as businesses. And consequently, marketing. Couple this with tectonic shifts in culture and a deluge of data – you have the primordial mix for a humongous and unprecedented level of disruption of marketing.
Many marketing theories, frameworks and strategies that are being depended on and deployed today by marketers and businesses, will not be able to deliver results in the Fifth Paradigm. Many concepts will be totally upended and stood on their heads. A radically different and new marketing approach is needed for the Fifth Paradigm, which I call Quantum Marketing.
Consider the case of advertising. Most normal people find advertisements annoying and intrusive. When a person is watching videos on the internet, an ad comes right in the middle, destroying their experience. The person literally waits for the ‘Skip Now’ button to appear, to move past the ad. And some platforms have now introduced a second ad you have to suffer through, before you can resume viewing whatever video you are watching. People hate this and try to avoid ads in every which way they can – more than 600 million people have installed ad blockers on their devices that block ads. And 200 million people have signed up to Netflix alone, where they are in an ad-free heaven.. Now, add to that Amazon Prime, YouTube Premium etc. – the number of people keeping ads at bay continues to climb rapidly. Why then would marketers continue to hang onto the traditional methods and models of advertising? Isn’t marketing about being sensitive to consumer needs and sensibilities, and striving to serve them and to delight them? Knowing what we know about consumers’ feelings toward being relentlessly bombarded by inane and mostly irrelevant ads, and seeing what they are doing in their power to block ads or run away in the other direction from ads, shouldn’t marketers be rethinking their advertising strategies? In Quantum Marketing, Advertising strategies and approaches will change dramatically, in addition to being supplemented by the likes of at-scale-experiential-marketing.
Consider the concept of brand loyalty. Some recent surveys and studies have shown that a majority of people in committed relationships have admitted to cheating on their partners. They knew that there were consequences- reputational, financial, or emotional, for not being loyal. Yet, they strayed. If people are not loyal in their personal lives, where there are explicit commitments and clear consequences, is it realistic to expect them to be loyal to brands, where there are neither commitments nor consequences? Yet, brands spend hundreds of billions of dollars annually on loyalty programs. This concept needs to be reimagined. In Quantum Marketing, traditional loyalty programs will graduate to platforms that influence consumers’ decisions in favor of their brand, every single time consumers are making choices.
Quantum Marketing is the future of marketing. It is the total reinvention of marketing and the ecosystem of marketing. Unlocking the promise and power of marketing in the future will require a new kind of leadership and a new sense of purpose for its mission. Only companies that can reboot their marketing mission, framework, strategy and approach will thrive in the Fifth Paradigm. Quantum Marketing is that new framework and appoach, that will help challenge current thinking and guide towards mastering the new marketing mindset for tomorrow’s consumers.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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