Under the Radar: Ten emerging marketing trends

The character "Radar" from M.A.S.H. endeared viewers for years not only for his naïve outlook and loyalty, but for his uncanny ability of knowing something would occur before it actually did.

Today, we have round-the-clock media and multiple channels of communications to keep us apprised of the biggest trends on the horizon, such as social media, mobile marketing and an uncertain economy. In fact, these tools do the job so well we are losing sight of the more powerful trends that could sharply change the future of marketing.

For instance, loyalty programs — the most effective tool to engender customer loyalty — are fast-becoming a commodity due to their ubiquity and lack of creative differentiation. This is a troubling sign at a time when customer demand is nearly outpacing innovation, and competition exists not down the street but on a smartphone.

Sadly, we do not have a real-life Radar to help us detect the less-obvious events that will further shift the meaning and mechanics of loyalty. So instead, COLLOQUY, a LoyaltyOne research group, has committed its resources to finding what we consider the 10 most unexpected events that will shape loyalty in 2013. We call them under-the-radar events, and have detailed them in the report "Under the Radar: Ten Trends Loyalty Marketers Might Not See Coming in 2013."

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"Under the Radar" groups ours insights on fast-emerging marketplace developments into three categories: trends that influence relevance; trends that affect customer engagement; and the economy's effect on creating value. Under these headers are some eyebrow-raising phenomena that we doubt even Radar would have predicted.

There is, for instance, the MomPopolies — small businesses that, thanks to social media and transaction-processing technologies, have as much engagement power as their national rivals. And Glocalism, what occurs when far-away events such as natural disasters or failed currencies markedly affect the operations of regional businesses.

These trends converge at a crucial point for loyalty. The average American household belongs to more than 18 programs, yet participates in only eight, according to research by COLLOQUY. And while these programs generated $48 billion in rewards each year, one third of it — about $205 per family — is unused. Marketers are creating loyalty plans that underwhelm, and consumers are losing interest.

There was a time when a rewards program actually felt like an invitation to be recognized for one's brand loyalty. Today, due to their commoditization, all but the most innovative loyalty plans are taken for granted.

In the absence of program experiences that wow them, consumers are demanding loyalty programs that instead simplify their redemption options to cash or near-cash rewards. This shift is resulting in an open-loyalty economy we call "Friend, Blend and Spend" — where rewards are universally shared, pooled and redeemed.

Other individual trends explored in the report include the data scientist shortage, augmented reality, the data marketing regulation rebound, economic fear and control and health equals wealth.

In the program M.A.S.H, Radar could predict helicopters, incoming injuries and long-distance phone calls. Today we have helicopter moms, rewards for healthy living and live messaging via email and text. Radar may not have seen any of these events coming, but fortunately we can.

To read the full report "Under the Radar: Ten Trends Loyalty Marketers Might Not See Coming in 2013," visit:

Carlos Dunlap is Director of Marketing at LoyaltyOne and the Editorial Director of COLLOQUY, a LoyaltyOne research group.

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