5 marketing megatrends you can't ignore

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Finding the elephants in the room

What's a megatrend, you ask? It's something big. I'm talking really big.

Think of a giant unstoppable tsunami of change transforming society as we know it. Think global warming scale -- then apply it to mass human behavior. Think glaciers carving the grand canyon of consumer sentiment.

Compare and contrast. Here are some regular trends:

"Everyone is on Twitter these days."
"Boomers are investing more in home renovations as they approach retirement."
"Green is 'in' this season."

All of these are important. None are mega.

Here's a megatrend:

"Social media has permanently transformed the way people connect and share information."

See? Big.

Much of the planning that goes into positioning a brand takes into account product attributes, competitive differentiation, and target insights. These are all critically important considerations. But they're not what I'm talking about here.

I'm talking about what is so often left on the table -- the elephant in the room. Megatrends. Latching onto these tectonic shifts can surge an entire brand strategy forward way ahead of the curve. Google caught on to an access-to-information megatrend. Facebook caught on to people connecting. Yet, these megatrends are rarely leveraged by brands. (This was confirmed for me by the sheer difficulty I had coming up with campaigns for this article).

Most companies wait until a megatrend is so pervasive and obvious that it becomes a minimum standard, a non-differentiating proposition -- so that leveraging them does nothing to differentiate their brand. Case in point: Who doesn't have a "green" message these days?

So what are the new megatrends that I believe will transform society in the coming years? What brands are taking advantage of them? And what can you learn from them?

Read on.



Linda Chreno
Linda Chreno February 1, 2010 at 4:36 PM

Associations and non-profits need and should be aware of this as well because one of the main functions of association is the sharing of information among members. If members can share information with the association via social media, then the association must be using the social media in the first place.

Natalie C
Natalie C December 1, 2009 at 11:59 AM

Great article, thanks for the insight. As for the future I am uncertain, but certainly socail networking technology has and will continue to change the landscape of our lives.

Barry Dennis
Barry Dennis December 1, 2009 at 12:33 AM

The Megatrend thread that runs though all the "megatrends" is...information: availability, transparency, utility, transformation, application.
The Information Utilty - what we now call the Internet- isn't quite "there" yet.but closer every day.
Cloud, layered Internet, tiered security, these and other "things" in the works, on the drawing boards, ideas in a restless insomniac's 1,000 yard stare-state..they're coming.

Bob Lehman
Bob Lehman November 13, 2009 at 4:52 PM

This author seems to regurgitate the obvious... again--I come here to find original insight!

George Dulo
George Dulo November 10, 2009 at 1:57 PM

thanks so much for this interesting and insightful feature.keep up the great work!thanks again.

Vineet Kalia
Vineet Kalia November 10, 2009 at 11:13 AM

People living in different cities of the world coming closer together, have a strong network and global brands will dominate.
Advertising in Social networking sites will increase multi fold and human race will become far more intelligent and discerning in its choice

Lou Sagar
Lou Sagar November 6, 2009 at 9:04 AM

I think these are good mega-trends..I would add that we are moving from the "Brand as me" to the "Brand as

Niyi Gbodimowo
Niyi Gbodimowo November 5, 2009 at 4:25 PM

A well researched article.

May I suggest a not-so-mega-trend, but still a trend all the same:

More publishers will bring more of their ad sales in house, and sell it through sophisticated automated systems.

These systems have already started emerging.


Adam Kleinberg
Adam Kleinberg November 5, 2009 at 2:53 PM

Thanks for all the comments, everybody. Overwhelmed by the response I'm getting from this piece.

I've created a list on my personal blog of posts that this article has spawned. Some interesting takes on how these megatrends apply to parallel worlds like crisis communications and venture capital.

Check it out:

Paul Zeek
Paul Zeek November 4, 2009 at 11:11 AM

Excellent article. To dive deeper into this topic try Gordon (2009), Future Savvy, or Cornish (2006), The Extreme Future.

Mary Jo Ginter
Mary Jo Ginter November 4, 2009 at 9:30 AM

Just wondering -- is your client or It's spelled both ways, multiple times.

Beverly Koehn
Beverly Koehn November 3, 2009 at 2:40 PM

Super article Adam. Thanks for the reminder that there really is something out there bigger than "Green". I love it. B. Koehn

Kate Colbert
Kate Colbert November 3, 2009 at 2:16 PM

I read a lot of articles about marketing trends, and this is the first piece in a long time that made me stop multi-tasking, sit up straighter, and start thinking about how to take advantage of our changing world. Thank you, Adam, for your insights and for your powerful examples. Like Thomas, I'm feeling inspired again.

Leslie Cawley
Leslie Cawley November 3, 2009 at 9:28 AM

Adam Kelinberg makes some valuable points that marketers shouldn't ignore. The most important lesson here to pay attention to the trends and what the consumers are using such as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace and use those tools to their advantage to reach broader audiences and expand their customer base.
Companies can't be resistant to change when change is the norm. Innovative companies such as Alibaba will always emerge and be successful because they dare to be different and touch upon a unique need that hasn't been met before. They aren't afraid to change and stand out.

Cecilia Breinbauer
Cecilia Breinbauer November 3, 2009 at 9:18 AM

This is the most brilliant article I have read in the past months, THANK YOU so much!

Jackie Bassett
Jackie Bassett November 3, 2009 at 8:22 AM

Spot on! These megatrends are very exciting. But there's a huge difference between Apple - who is masterfully executing on a brilliant strategy and IBM, who has great messaging but IMHO falls far short on the execution side.

saul sithe
saul sithe November 3, 2009 at 1:04 AM

obvious re-stated. thanks adam.

Maggie Heatherman
Maggie Heatherman November 2, 2009 at 11:11 AM

Great article! You really hit the nail on the head with these 5 megatrends. I think anyone that has been in business for a while has seen this shift accelerate in recent years. The opportunity right now is huge - but it won't last long. The important thing for companies to do now is to act on the industry changes, it won't be very long before these megatrends become the minimum standard and the opportunity to catch on ahead of competitors will be long gone.

Justin White
Justin White November 2, 2009 at 10:29 AM

I don't mean to pop your bubble about Apple, but Microsoft's aggressive marketing to the global application development community starting in the 1980's was what led to their monopoly and Apple's puny share of the PC market. The fact that Apple/Jobs are finally getting it wiht the iPhone is not necessarily visionary, but rather the case of them finally getting it.

Thomas Gardiner
Thomas Gardiner November 2, 2009 at 9:44 AM

Sum years ago, I was totaly impacted and inspired by the Book MEGA-TRENDS... Today, I'm inspired again. ZAP go the nueron transmitters.
Author Adam Kleinberg has succinctly chronicled, pin pointed, brought a "Be Here Now" identity to the MEGA-Brands living large in R finite world with the synergistic focus of a 1 Minute Manager.

Reminds MOI of his Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama NOW Mindset. When asked by an audience jouranlist, "What is the happiest moment of Ur life?" His Holiness moved from the center floor and bending to meet the sitting journalist with eye to eye contact.. "NOW", he replied.

"Itz the Only EARTH weez got." SURVIVALware. ~ OM ~