There’s a lot to look forward to in 2014 if you’re a fan of human competition – the Super Bowl, The World Cup, the end of the BCS and the introduction of a College Football playoff system, the Winter Olympics in Sochi, and more. We’ll be witness to amazing feats of mental strength and physical capability, resulting in accomplishments considered unparalleled.

Marketing is a bit like sport as well – what looks like an absolute stroke of genius and ease on the surface belies the incredibly complex work below that is often a combination of mental intuitivism, operational sophistication and executional power. And I bet we’ll be witness to some amazing marketing feats in 2014.

These accomplishments all start with an understanding of the consumer and shopper – not only what they have been doing, but where we think they will be headed in the coming year – so we can excite, energize, help, motivate, satisfy, and fulfill them. So what’s on the horizon in 2014 when it comes to consumer and shopper behaviors and attitudes? I believe it may be the year of the paradox – a year where what people say and how they feel may grow ever increasingly distant from what they do – and only a few marketers who acknowledge and address this will reap huge successes.

Rather than talking about the continued rise of mobile, social, big data, the increasing saturation of email, or postal rate and mail challenges, let’s start with our increasingly fragmented and polarized society. We continue to project a widening gap between the “have’s” and “have not’s.” America will be more diverse than ever where retaining culture is increasingly valued. We will continue to be transformed by technology – creating a more empowered, more “real time,” and differently wired society. Our new wiring is resulting in fewer events that truly attract a “mass audience.” Even among “big” events, there are more points of view than one can count whether the event was good, bad, or ugly. And the civility in this social discourse on “what happened” can often mirror a day in the life of Congress. This will further give rise to the mosaic society, the micro-event and the role that big data can play in identifying, locating, and messaging to the most receptive audience segments – highly relevant, in-the-moment activities directed towards like-minded self-selected communities. However, big data will need to be connected with true understanding of what is motivating and preventing behaviors to improve the effectiveness of our marketing models.

Marketing success in this new world will go to those who adopt a whole-brain approach to marketing – knowing what attitudes and conversations translate to behaviors, and which behaviors shape attitudes and conversations that will drive future behaviors and purchases. It’s the only way to address the paradox coming in 2014. Happy New Year!

— Seth Diamond EVP, Catapult, an Epsilon brand

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