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A VUCA year if there ever was one for marketing.

So it is. The year 2024 promises. And for now, in most things, it's not for good reasons.

Most forecasts, and with the exception of the possibility of a reduction in housing interest rates (which is quite doubtful), everything else seems shrouded in fog and bad omens.

Homem jovem trabalho desespero.

Maybe there have been other years like this, but this one is starting to tick all the boxes pretty early.

The economy is overshadowed by drops in growth, 60 or 70 countries holding elections and with potential changes in terms of political factions and internal and external policies; wars spreading across several regions; and changing export and production flows; Things are not looking perfect.

All of these things, despite seeming far from our small planted seaside garden, can have many impacts. At various levels, namely the promotion and sales activities of many products, and the ability of those who purchase them to continue doing so.

And V.U.C.A., for those who don't know, is the acronym for:

V = Volatile

U = Uncertainty

C = Complexity

A = Ambiguity

Much of what this year, and wherever we look, promises us.

Some of these scenarios...

Political volatility (V), internal and external, which can transform into an environment of instability and complicate investment, as well as the advancement of the various programs made possible by community funds (on our internal level).

The volatility of the international economy, further aggravated by conflicts in the Middle East, and difficulties in passing through Suez and Panama for products circulating around the globe. This limitation on the circulation of products and merchandise, which is already expected to cause interest rates to rise again, as transport costs will certainly rise due to the increase in distance (fuel, time spent, differences in freight), the which is already being carried out by 30% of vessels, it is estimated.

políticos mulher reunião

Among other influences, we will also have the behavior of eastern economies, particularly China. With a drop in growth in 2023, and with a crisis in terms of real estate and an entire industry, which could also be affected by political issues, it is an economy on which the world (still) depends, which has a large part of the industries that produce what we consume.

Another is being created by the environment, which we have been damaging for some time now, and which is showing erratic behavior, with temperatures fluctuating, storms traveling everywhere, from north to south, and from east to west, floods, heat waves, etc. Which also has costs at all levels.

The uncertainty (U) of all elections also causes instability in the markets, and this apprehension translates into a retraction of both companies and consumers.

This uncertainty of what the results of the various elections will be like, at the most varied levels and geographies, with more than 60 countries, and what impacts they will have on regional and international relations.

From east to west, the world could move this year. And get agitated. Unpredictable.

Volatility also with regard to economic growth is affecting all perspectives, and projections are beginning to be made on all sides, creating uncertainty (U) in all markets. After complicated years of pandemic and a war in Europe, plus the factors mentioned, it calls into question an entire cycle, at least its evolution.

The evolution of conflicts, and the different scenarios that may result from these situations, are a cause for uncertainty and apprehension.

From the Middle East to Europe, and other regions that remain in permanent or occasional situations on all continents, these conflicts have demonstrated that many of the expectations that were created after the global pandemic could be disappointed. Definitely.

The complexity (C) of all the situations we have already listed adds to the economic perspectives that are not always in balance, with the prospects for economic growth, for example, between the USA and Europe being divergent.

As well as the contradictory behaviors, in industrial production, that occur in the various blocks and regions.

And if sales of goods and services decrease, as a result of a reduction in purchasing power, economies suffer and debts increase. Consumers react, as do companies, and then there is a rise in unemployment, as has been seen in our country.

In other words, ambiguity (A) is created between all the players on this vast board on which we play every day.

We've seen this before, right?

But what if what lies ahead is something a little deeper?

It's going to be a VUCA year for marketing too, and let's hope it stays there.

And for brands? What about Marketing and Communication?

A lot can change.

If the consumer changes, and their attitude towards their available discretionary value too, much of what is done in brands, marketing and communication must change.

There are already brands changing their positioning, aligning themselves with the values and criteria we had in the last financial crisis.

It seems to us that this means something.

brand marketing

Now this doesn’t mean you should take your foot off the gas and stop all promotional activity!

This is a common mistake when considering these areas as an expense and not as an investment. In the company, in the brand and in the products/services.

But there must be an analysis of the market and the trends that are influencing it, and naturally, according to the area/market in which it operates, align with the situations and insights collected. As well as with its consumers.

And if there's ever a time to look for and pay attention to insights, it's a VUCA moment.

But what is important to do? How to be aligned with customers, consumers or prospects?

More than communicating what your brand is, it is important to know what your customer is looking for in it, what problems it solves.

Bet on information!

And even how you use your product.

Have you discovered new ways to use it? Did you discover any extra uses?

If you replace it, or consider this hypothesis, why? Does it not have that added value that it is thought to provide?

Because, after all, information is cheaper than reacting after problems are unavoidable.

Knowing users can bring additional ways of transmitting the associated value, even beyond its usefulness. Or discover new values for the market.

Align your communication, and the points of relationship with him, with this learning and knowledge.

And nowadays, even carrying out market research, analysis or even acquiring information no longer has the difficulties of other times. Let's be realistic.

But there always has to be investment.

This being smaller than in other times, and saving other investments from limiting crisis or chaos, so much the better.

And for a marketer, what does a VUCA year and all these perspectives mean for your marketing?

Being aware of what is happening in this online world, for example, is important.

Actively listening to information that circulates can bring you a lot of data.

Social networks, videos, blogs and everything else can provide useful information. And if it's not about your product, it could be about your market or your competitors.

Who knows, maybe you will find a use that is not being used and you can transform it into a competitive advantage and a new axis for your approach to your products.

It's "social listening"!

And above all, act actively. Not reactively.

jovem rapariga a escutar

Transporting all of this to market can also be a challenge.

Transform all of this into a strategy, operationalize the information and make it available to your audiences. It's complex but rewarding.

Times continue to change, and it is complex to be where the audiences are, in real time.

Remember the last IKEA campaign and how everyone immediately bonded.

And immediately it was "on time".

IKEA teams had weeks or months to prepare. The others don't.

You need to gain this agility, and invest in marketing automation solutions that provide you with this advantage.

The so-called MarTech, or marketing automation, is relevant in this fast-paced world. (Artificial intelligence starts here.)

Publishing and displaying some content may require an investment, but doing things in a professional, agile and efficient way requires investing in other plans.

We need to stop thinking that because it's online it's cheap, or even free. This medium requires time, planning and investment. Human and technical.

It is increasingly complex. And this year it is expected to continue.

Only then will you be able to make competitive and aggressive gains. Even more so in complex times like the ones we live in.

Investing in professional solutions in terms of content, such as video, will also require your investment and, above all, dedication. And it shouldn't just be once.

So much so that your needs will evolve. And your audiences will ask for more.

And not even all markets or users act the same way.

The results of these types of actions also take time to be measured, and often not directly or at all.

But you can always generate associations with the product or service, or with the brand. These are associations that are established between the product, its use and what it seeks to solve.

Both implicit and explicit associations.

And these associations can help take some pressure off a year that, despite being young, is very... VUCA.

Using this type of support, and adjusting it to your needs, is something we have helped brands do.

But there is not just this support. Your consumer may be in other contexts, and they need to know that you are there with them.

But do you want results?

numeros gráficos resultados

We know what you're thinking: "That's a lot of money. It's a small company. We don't need that."

Often times it's not even like that. And what you do is best done well, because if you are investing, it needs to produce results - both financially and in terms of visibility and recognition.

Of course, we are also speaking in a more general and comprehensive way.

But there's nothing like remembering that even big companies started like this. And that all of them, every day, invest to gain this notoriety.

And sometimes in ways that don't seem to make sense, but that work.

Do you not want results in your organization?

Create stability, and positive associations, maintain an open line for clarification, and permanently accompany your user - with some of these steps it is possible to reduce pressure and: volatility, uncertainty, complexity and the ambiguity of a world in motion.

Basic emotions and the user's certainty that their usual brand is "by their side", result in a reduction in the possibility of considering a competing solution, or considering alternatives.

In addition to this plan, there is always a need to prepare the company to have the flexibility and agility to confront these scenarios and their causes, whether internal or external. But that's for another post...

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