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Trends for Marketing Communicators in 2020

2020 Watchlist for Marketing Communicators

As a discipline, Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) attempts to unify all pieces of marketing communications, including advertising, public relations, direct marketing, social media, and sales promotion. In a fast-paced industry, with highly saturated marketing channels, forward-thinking and staying on trend is the only way to make an impact on your target audience.

The “2020 Watchlist for Marketing Communicators,” presented by West Virginia University’s IMC and DMC Graduate Programs, provides insight into the future of marketing based on the rising trends and tactics today, backed by insights from our extensive network of alumni, industry leaders and professional faculty, as well as case studies and tactic examples to help inspire your next-level marketing communications plan.

The Trends:
1. Influencer Marketing

Influencer Marketing is the practice of leveraging an individual’s following to promote, endorse or support brands.


What started as typically using celebrities to pose with cans of cola and talk about how they use certain makeup each morning has evolved into a highly specialized industry. As social media continues to rise, the ability for any individual to become an “influencer” in their space of interest is increasingly more attainable.

Today, brands are utilizing those of all levels of social following to put a face to their products, give consumers someone to relate to and spread their company name across the individual’s network.

Case Study: Glossier

2. Cause Marketing
Price of Our Lives

In an activist consumer climate, brands are increasingly becoming open to the idea of taking a stance on tough topics to align with the causes that are important to their consumers. While engaging with controversial issues was once taboo in the media world, it is now a leading way to earn press coverage and start conversations about your brand.

Cause marketing is becoming more than just donating a portion of profits. Cause Marketing is evolving into brands making a bold advertising statement, investing time to make a substantial contribution to a cause, and creating products that allow consumers to showcase their views as well.

Case Study: Price on Our Lives

3. Immersive Brand Pop-Ups

In an oversaturated marketing world, strategists are being tasked with developing with the most abstract concepts to capture media and consumer attention, all while adhering to brand identity. More and more consumers are being immersed in the world of a brand during extravagant temporary events called “ pop-ups.” They showcase creative risks, generate social media buzz with limited availability, and give new audiences a chance to experience the brand firsthand.

Case Study: Cheetos

4. Addressable Advertising

Changes in TV Consumption. With many consumers “cutting the cord” on traditional TV service and opting for streaming platforms, brands need a new way to reach these highly fragmented audiences and get the most out of their budget.

Addressable TV by 2020 Addressable TV advertising utilizes data collected by cross-referencing the programs consumers watch, the cable provider they use and other factors like websites they visit. This data creates profiles of potential target consumers to be delivered specific ads that speak to their interests. Brands and companies provide a target consumer to a cable provider to ensure their ads are only going to households whose compiled target would make them prospective customers.

Case Study: Gulf States Toyota

5. Culture and Diversity

Diverse Audiences Demand Diverse Messaging. Brands are continuously putting a greater emphasis on diversity and inclusion in their marketing campaigns. Not only because America is the most diverse it has ever been, but because of the visibility of that diversity. Consumers are demanding for brands to pay attention to representation and authentically showcase the population for what it is: a brand spectrum of culture and individuality.


With the rise of social media, everyone has a platform for opinion and to voice their individuality. Increasingly, people of color are utilizing this opportunity to speak out about their culture, drive trends and become powerful influencers. Brands need to continue to make authentic efforts to include Multicultural Americans into marketing images and diverse cultures into messaging. If efforts are not authentic, and these people are not recognized, brands put themselves at risk of boycott and backlash on social media.

Case Study: Nielsen Research

Click here to see the full 2020 Watchlist for Marketing Communicators

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