UK Marketing and User Trends to Watch in 2024

Steve Grant

Managing Director

Steve is a founder of Figment, a multi award-winning UK-based SEO agency helping clients connect with new customers online to achieve healthy and sustainable business growth. Having advised over 200 business owners, Steve combines a strong commercial background with Figment’s innovative SearchRank 360™ approach and specialist team to deliver simple, cost-effective results. His ability to lead by example and inspire his team is a testament to his unwavering commitment to excellence. As a former Apple consultant and first-class Brunel graduate in Multimedia Technology and Design, Steve brings a unique blend of technical knowledge and marketing strategy to create tailored SEO campaigns that deliver results. Outside of work, Steve is a devoted family man, accomplished jazz pianist, and talented artist. With his friendly and professional approach, Figment's founder is not only an industry expert but also a true asset to any business seeking to make its mark in the online world.

UK marketing trends

It’s that time of year when fresh ideas, renewed objectives and recharged approaches abound in the world of marketing. When all minds are focused on optimising budgets, and when squeezing the most out of that all-important ROI jumps back into the spotlight.

It’s also a time when it’s vitally important to be aware of the upcoming trends for the next 12 months, especially as the digital realm continues to evolve in unparalleled leaps and bounds.

This is precisely why we’ve been doing the rounds of the best research resources, and have brought together what we believe to be the most important UK digital marketing and user trends to watch in 2024.

First – the headlines

Consumer spending trends are one of the biggest influencers when it comes to setting marketing budgets.

UK retail ecommerce sales have bounced back since 2023 according to an Insider Intelligence and eMarketer report, and are set to grow by 5.3% in 2024 to over £178 billion. However, total retail sales growth is on track for a marginal slowdown in 2024, although it will remain positive at 4.8%.

Following its recovery trajectory in the second half of 2023, digital advertising spend is predicted to see strong growth in 2024, approaching £40 billion, according to the same report.

Artificial intelligence – the big one (unsurprisingly)

The huge hype around the emergence of ChatGPT had paled somewhat at the close of 2023 as marketers adopted the generative AI chatbot into their everyday. So, as we get more up close and personal with 2024, it’s likely we’ll see the use of generative AI becoming a lot more strategic.

Upskilling and adding value with AI

It’s expected we’ll see marketing teams upskilling in when and how to use AI, and that it will be embedded into the overall marketing approach. It’s also likely AI will be adopted as standard for repetitive tasks, freeing up time to plough more effort into higher-value activities that are more centred on creativity and human-driven skills.

It’s also likely that more time will be given over to considering how AI can add value. Tools such as Custom GPTs, DALL-E and Midjourney have been widely adopted as content creators. But the common thread coming through in the bulk of the advice is that AI should always be considered a tool rather than a strategy.

With this in mind, we could see a pause in the use of AI whilst marketers consider their policies around privacy, transparency, Intellectual Property and copyright.

AI regulation is currently under government discussion, but it’s going to take time to scale and timelines have already been revised many times. So it may be the case that brands and marketers come up with their own form of regulation and internal guidance before anything overarching makes its debut.

Personalising the customer experience

The personalised customer experience has always been a key driver for making purchasing decisions. AI is making considerable waves in this area, so it looks like anyone who fails to adopt it could face losing their competitive edge.

Insider Intelligence and eMarketer have predicted that more UK retailers will integrate AI technology in the coming year, so we can expect to see a lot more AI-powered personal assistants, and personalised recommendations.

AI will speed up the move to hyper-personalisation. In retail, personalisation is hugely important, but up until recently, it’s been quite a challenge to pin it down to something helpful and valuable rather than just downright creepy.

However, thanks to the likes of ChatGPT, it’s become a pretty straightforward task to personalise customer experiences, to do it at scale, and without significant financial input.

Many brands are using generative AI to personalise the customer experience, making use of algorithms to analyse user behaviour and preferences, coming up with content suggestions, product recommendations and more.

Here are just some examples of what it can do:

Customer support assistants

Generative AI-powered chatbots can be used to provide real time, personalised customer support. They can be programmed to understand and respond to queries in natural language, so the whole experience is way more customised.

Personalised product recommendations

Generative algorithms are being used by ecommerce brands to analyse user behaviour, purchase history and preferences. This data is used to generate personalised recommendations, which enhances the shopping experience.

Personalised content

AI can be used to generate personalised content for users based on their browsing history and preferences. From customised newsletters and blog content to how-to guides, there is huge scope to demonstrate to customers just how valued they are.

Dynamic pricing

It is possible to use generative algorithms to dynamically adjust pricing based on a range of factors. These might include, for example, time of day, current demand and user history. This ensures prices are competitive, and appealing to the customer.

Interactive voice assistants

Voiced-activated AI assistants, driven by generative models, allow hands-free, personalised interactions. It is possible to incorporate these assistants into websites or apps to improve the user experience.

Direct marketing

Email or postal campaigns can be crafted using generative AI. From subject lines and call to actions, and from personalised product recommendations to customised body text, there is significant potential for boosting engagement and conversion rates.

The Insider Intelligence and eMarketer report revealed that personalisation such as live search, automated product recommendations, live chat and virtual try-ons ranked as the most helpful to UK consumers making a purchase decision from a UK retailer.

In the real world, Coca-Cola is using ChatGPT and Dall-E to create personalised advertising copy and targeted messages and images. Swedish fintech company Klarna has been working with OpenAI to create an integrated plugin for ChatGPT to give users customised product recommendations when they request shopping advice. And fashion and beauty retailed Zalando is trying out a ChatGPT-powered virtual fashion assistant designed to assist customers to find their way around its product range using their own words.

The personalised customer experience has always been a key driver for making purchasing decisions

The personalised customer experience has always been a key driver for making purchasing decisions.

Sustainability – the one on everyone’s lips

2024 is expected to be the year brands start to bow to increasing pressure to demonstrate meaningful environmental, social and governance (ESG) approaches.

During the next 12 months, a variety of laws and reporting requirements related to ESG are set to come into effect.

The Sustainability Disclosure Requirements (SDR) will see the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) launch a comprehensive package of regulation for regulated firms, including sustainable investment labels, disclosure requirements and anti-greenwashing. The first round of implementation is set to begin in May this year.

Whilst originating within the European Parliament, the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) will apply to non-EU companies with considerable activity in the EU, including a physical presence. Reporting requirements have already begun in January 2024 for larger companies, with the remainder to follow in January 2025 and January 2026.

The CSRD will require companies to report on sustainability focused topics, including environmental matters, social responsibility, respect for human rights, anti-corruption measures and board diversity.

It’s looking like sustainable products will become more mainstream in 2024. ‘Disposable fashion’ is already considered uncool, and millennials and Gen-Z are leading the way by veering towards a circular retail model.

A Toluna and Insider Intelligence survey revealed that second hand shopping will continue to escalate. Amongst the 85.5% of UK consumers already opting for pre-loved purchases, more than 50% of them plan to shop that way a lot more in 2024.

Sustainability in marketing

2024 is expected to be the year brands start to bow to increasing pressure to demonstrate meaningful environmental, social and governance (ESG) approaches.

Privacy – the one that has to matter

The Data Protection and Digital Information Bill is expected to be passed in the coming months. Currently in the House of Lords, it has a little way to go before it receives Royal Assent. But there is nothing to suggest it won’t become law, and its aims are to update and simplify the UK’s data protection framework.

Data privacy has been high on the agendas of many marketers for some time now, with consumers increasingly on the lookout for transparency, control and reassurance around their personal information.

Privacy-centred marketing is far more than a trend for 2024. It’s going to mark a core shift in how marketing strategies are approached, and how customer data is handled.

2024 is set to be the year that businesses prioritise privacy within their marketing strategies, allowing trust to be built with customers. From data storage and handling, to personalised marketing and targeted advertising, there is going to be a great deal under the spotlight as businesses pull out all the stops to prove their commitment to protecting the privacy of their customers.

Google says that getting privacy right requires buy-in from outside the marketing department. Their Q&A with industry experts is an insightful read for anyone tasked with implementing a privacy-centric marketing strategy.

UK marketing trends - privacy

Data privacy has been high on the agendas of many marketers for some time now.

Social commerce – the one to watch

Social commerce is billed as the future of online shopping and will become more important than ever in 2024.

Social commerce is the process of selling products directly through social media channels. It’s ‘ecommerce meets social media’, where shoppers click to buy within their social media feed, without having to head off to a separate platform.

Instagram Shopping, Facebook Marketplace, Pinterest Shopping, Twitter Shops, Snapchat Shops, TikTok Shop and LinkedIn Marketplace are all examples of social commerce platforms include

The UK Social Commerce 2023 report by Insider Intelligence and eMarketer revealed that the UK is currently the forerunner over the rest of Europe when it comes to social buying. It also shows that, even though it has the lowest proportion of retailers selling via social, there is plenty of potential to increase social spending amongst existing buyers, especially Gen Z and young millennials.

The report says that younger generations head to social media for inspiration and discovery, and Gen Z and young millennials are the most prolific social shoppers. This is hardly surprising when you discover that 44.3% of 18 to 34-year-olds in the UK spend more than three hours per day on social media, compared with 24.6% of 34 to 54-year-olds and just 10.2% of those over 55 (Toluna).

Social networks are investing in shopping technology which appeals to Gen Z and young millennials, focusing on the likes of augmented reality, video commerce and visual search. They’re also on the case when it comes to incorporating in-app checkout systems into the buying process. This is highly likely to provide more of seamless shopping experience.

Social commerce

Social commerce is billed as the future of online shopping and will become more important than ever in 2024.

Connected TV – the revolutionary one

Connected TV (CTV) is set to become a powerful force in advertising in 2024 and will considerably influence advertising and marketing strategies.

CTV It refers to the integration of the internet with traditional television. As viewers continue to choose streaming services like Amazon Prime Video and Netflix over conventional TV, so traditional cable and satellite TV advertising models will be disrupted.

CTV makes it possible for viewers to access content on-demand, giving them convenience and flexibility as to where and when they watch.

There are numerous benefits to marketers using CTV over traditional TV advertising models:

Targeted advertising

Connected TV makes it possible to target advertising in a meaningful way based on user preferences and data. Advertisers can use this data to deliver highly personalised, relevant adverts to specific demographics, in a very similar way to the targeted ads that are possible on digital platforms such as YouTube.

What’s more, CTV allows for ‘addressable advertising’, which allows advertisers to target specific households, or even individual viewers. This high precision targeting enhances the efficiency of ad campaigns, and reduces wasted impressions.

Interactive adverts

Traditional TV ads are static in nature. But CTV makes it possible to add a layer of interactivity, allowing viewers to engage with adverts, click to learn more, or even make direct purchases from their connected device.

Cross-device tracking

Marketers can better understand how viewers move between different devices during their viewing experience (e.g. from tablet to TV). This bigger picture perspective makes it possible to devise more strategic advertising campaigns.

Measuring ROI

With CTV, it’s easier to get a more meaningful level of measurement and analytics than with traditional TV. Advertisers get to track metrics including views, clicks and conversions, which allows for more data-driven decision making and more strategic campaign optimisation.

Brand control

CTV gives advertisers more control over where their adverts appear. This helps to maintain brand control, and ensures that ads are shown in the most appropriate contexts.

Sponsorship and other marketing opportunities

Many of the streaming services on CTV are investing in original content, which opens up opportunities for marketers to form collaborations with these platforms for sponsorships or branded content.

It’s clear to see the benefits that connected TV brings into the marketing mix in terms of flexibility, personalisation, targeting, tracking and user experience. However, it is important to appreciate that there is work to do on getting over ad blockers which some premium streaming services use.

Connected TV - UK marketing trends

Connected TV (CTV) is set to become a powerful force in advertising in 2024 and will considerably influence advertising and marketing strategies.

Customer Data Platforms – the one that will support all the others

Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) make it possible for businesses to consolidate customer data from a whole host of touchpoints. This provides a bigger-picture view of customer behaviour and preferences, and allows for more personalised and targeted marketing strategies.

CDPs:

  • Aggregate data from a variety of sources, including both online and offline interactions. The data can include user interactions on mobile apps, websites, social media, customer support, purchase history and lots more.
  • Unify customer data from unrelated sources, reconciling and organising information to create a single, comprehensive customer profile. This has the benefit of assisting businesses in better understanding their customers.
  • Create individual customer profiles by connecting all the relevant data points with a unique identifier, such as a customer ID. This profile may include demographic information, behaviour history, preferences and other relevant details.
  • Update customer profiles continuously in real time as fresh data comes to light. This allows businesses to benefit from the most up to date and accurate information about their customers.
  • Allow marketers to segment their customers based on a variety of criteria, such as demographics, behaviour, geographic location and more. Marketing campaigns can then be tailored to specific groups.
  • Integrate with a host of marketing tools, such as advertising platforms, CRM systems and email marketing software. This allows businesses to use the unified customer data for personalised marketing campaigns.
  • Have powerful analytics and reporting capabilities, making it possible for businesses to glean insights into customer preferences, behaviour and the success of their marketing campaigns. This data-driven approach to marketing helps to refine, optimise and draw greater ROI.
  • Prioritise data security and privacy courtesy of built-in features that ensure compliance with data protection regulations.

By providing a real time, unified view of customer data, CDPs allow businesses to create more effective, personalised marketing campaigns, resulting in enhanced customer experiences and improved brand loyalty.

For this reason, and with personalisation and privacy high on the agenda, 2024 is likely to see a surge in adoption of CDPs.

Customer Data Platforms - UK marketing trends

Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) make it possible for businesses to consolidate customer data from a whole host of touchpoints.

The Figment view

The digital marketing and advertising realm is transforming before our eyes. Artificial intelligence is responsible for driving much of the change, but a lot of it can be attributed to generational factors. As the Gen Z and millennial faction grows, so demand for more interactive and engaging marketing will naturally excel.

Research and industry commentary suggest we are on a trajectory towards a marketing ecosystem that is highly personalised, meaningfully targeted, sustainably-driven and exceptionally user-orientated. And 2024 is going to be a pivotal year when we see a lot of change in support of this trend.

With this in mind, businesses of all sizes and in any industry will need to take the bull by the horns, be mindful of the emerging trends, and prepared to adopt the technologies that will support them in achieving and maintaining that all-important competitive edge.

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