Top Marketing Trends for 2012: Mobile-Centric, Gamified, Values & Real-Time

There has been a lot of buzz around the marketing trends for 2012.  If I was to narrow it down to four key areas, it would be: Mobile-Centric Marketing, Gamified Marketing, Values Marketing and Real-Time Marketing.

1) Mobile-Centric Marketing

In 2011, there was a significant increase in mobile device access, function and convenience.  Smartphones have become accessible to the masses.  More than 80 million Americans now own Smartphones (comScore) and 91% of all U.S. citizens have their mobile device within reach 24/7 (HubSpot Blog).

Mobile couponing is on the rise.  In the next 2 years, U.S. adults’ mobile coupon usage will grow 2 times from 19.8 million to 35.6 million users (Microsoft tag)Mobile coupons get 10 times the redemption rate of traditional coupons (HubSpot Blog).  The majority of mobile device users expect to receive a coupon or deal from scanning a QR code with their mobile device.  With 11 out of 50 Fortune companies are incorporating QR codes into their marketing strategy (digitalbuzz Blog).

Mobile payments are gaining traction.  For example, 1 in 4 payments at Starbucks are done with a mobile device (Mashable).  On Cyber Monday (2011), PayPal saw an increase of 514% in mobile payments in comparison to the same time the previous year (PayPal Blog).  There are more mobile payment options coming to market so wallets can be left at home – Google Wallet, Isis, Square and Paypal.  New Apps and Mobile Technologies will pave the way for further functionality of Smartphones.  ABI Research (October 2011), predicts that there will be 29 billion apps downloaded in 2011, up from 9 billion in 2010 (mobiThinking).  

In 2012, all marketing efforts should have a component that links to mobile devices to increase impact and reach.  One of the greatest returns on investment of Mobile-Centric Marketing will be aggregation of data.

2) Gamified Marketing

Gamification is a hot trend for 2012.  Gamification is defined as engaging people by applying game mechanics to non-game situations.  A marketer can gamify their marketing by creating games to encourage a desired outcome or behavior. This can result in the increase of website visitors and click-through rates to encouraging the purchase of a product in a store.  Where there was once a division between work and play, it no longer exists.  Playing games is a medium for outcomes.  Gaming is on the rise.  The mobile gaming industry is predicted to reach $54 Billion by 2015 with 70 – 80% of all mobile downloads games (digitalbuzz Blog).  There are many examples where gamification will have a significant impact:

Training new employees or educating customers in a fun and interactive way.  For example, Hilton Garden Inn partnered with Virtual Heroes to develop a game called Ultimate Team Play.  Trainees use Sony’s PlayStation to play a game that is a virtual simulation of the hotel and various scenarios.  Trainees need to complete tasks and make decisions that affect the guests’ mood as well as the SALT (Satisfaction and Loyalty Tracking) scores (

Non-Profit Organizations can encourage gaming for a cause.  If people are playing games anyways, is there a way to encourage positive action?  The answer is yes.  One recent example is WeTopia, a social game that allows players to understand and address real world problems.  WeTopia will donate a percentage of its net profits to nonprofit groups worldwide.  Players can also generate a donation from a sponsored advertiser through ‘joy’ points (WeTopia: Facebook Gaming for Good).

Healthcare gamification is making people healthier.  The healthcare industry sees the value of games for solving real-world health problems.  From encouraging patients to take medication, following a diet regimen, exercising, or managing protocols, gamification is a solution to make people healthier (Perficient).

The value for marketers is extremely vast.  Humans throughout history have played games and will continue into the future.  Gamification makes the everyday more fun and engaging.  It allows marketers to connect with consumers and stakeholders.  This direct interaction provides valuable data about a target markets likes and dislikes.  Gamification can increase brand recognition through non-traditional platforms.

3) Values Marketing

This is not about marketing the value of a product or service.  Instead, Values Marketing is marketing the values of the organization.  In 2012, it will be all about proving that the company, organization, brand, etc. has solid commitment to a triple bottom line – social, economic, and environmental factors.  Instead of keeping values internal, it will be about celebrating and wearing values on sleeves for all to see.

Consumers are looking for open and honest companies that stand by their vision and mission in all their actions.   Technology has increased consumer awareness of how organizations are operating at all levels.  For example, Made in Free World/Slavery Footprint is a website and mobile app that help consumers examine supply chains to determine whether the products that they purchase use forced labor.  I took the online survey to determine my slavery footprint.  It truly served to increase my awareness about raw materials and where they come from.  This is just one example where consumers are gaining more knowledge regarding all the different levels of an organization.

From a marketing perspective this means that an organization needs to have a clear vision, mission and tactics that are aligned at all levels.  In 2011, there have been some surprising recalls by trusted brands.  So, 2012 will be the year of establishing and building trust through Values Marketing.  A good example of a company that wears their values on their sleeve is Zappos.  Zappos is an online retailer that promotes its mission on its website – The best online service leader and its values for all to see.  Their core values are aligned with their mission.

4) Real-Time Marketing

Real-Time Marketing is the ability to respond to feedback in an immediate manner.  Real-Time is defined as (Google search result):

  • Actual time during which a process or event occurs.
  • Input data is processed within milliseconds so that it is available virtually immediately as feedback.
  • A two-way conversation, as opposed to the delay of written correspondence.

So many times, marketing strategies and tactics are developed over several months with a rigid punch list.  Marketers have to understand that the future is about flexibility and the ability to adapt to feedback in real-time.  The Internet has changed communication.  Stakeholders can interact directly with organizations with the expectation to receive an immediate response.  Marketing is now a two way conversation, it is no longer a push of information and the campaign is complete.  Twitter allows a vast amount of people on a global scale to communicate with each other.  The voices on Twitter, Facebook and websites have reach and impact.  Marketers need to monitor and respond to the larger community.  No longer are the days where marketers can work in silos.  Employees, customers and all stakeholders will be driving the marketing strategies and execution.

Looking forward to observing these marketing trends unfold in 2012!


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