Next year - 2015 - and the future it will bring will soon be upon us. In numerology 15 is the combination of number 1 (representing leadership and forward movement) and the number 5 (the numeric for business and finance), thus 15 becomes the fusion of leadership and forward momentum for brands and marketers, according to Robert Passikoff, Ph.D, president of Brand Keys Inc. This article is copyright 2014 The Best Customer Guide.

When it comes to the future, it's been said that there are three kinds of marketers: those who let it happen, those who make it happen, and those who wonder what happened. As we do every year, for smart marketers who want to fall into that second group, analysis and insights from Brand Keys' validated and predictive loyalty and engagement metrics were collected from over 100,000 consumers this year.

Here, then, are the fifteen most critical trends that are likely to become brand marketing realities during 2015:

  1. Everyone of a Kind
    Consumers will more and more crave - and expect - more and more customized and personalised products, services and experiences. This will be fuelled by the next trend...
  2. Magnified Human Technology
    Digital and mobile in all forms will fuel the sense of empowerment and possibility for the individual consumer.
  3. Real Brand Engagement
    Awareness is a given. Marketers will link "engagement" to how well the brand is perceived versus their category's Ideal, rather than counting "likes" or just trying to leverage imagery.
  4. The Everything Expectation
    The ability for brands to accurately measure real, unarticulated, and constantly-expanding emotional consumer expectations will provide significant advantages to engage, delight, and profit.
  5. Real-Time Becomes Real Important
    Increased real-time expectations already subsume brand and will now spread to areas of product availability, delivery, and customer service, all becoming more important influencers in purchase decisions.
  6. It's Still The Brand, Stupid!
    Increased consumer expectations will be accompanied with added perceptions of products and services as commodities. Brands will need to be differentiated and stand for something meaningful, emotional, and important to consumers.
  7. Category is King
    To engage those smarter, high-expectation consumers, brand wills need to be smarter about their own category-specific emotional values that they can leverage and believably own.
  8. Brands Will Get Emotional
    Successful brands will need to identify the emotional values in the category where they compete, and utilize them as a foundation for meaningful positioning, differentiation, and a foundation for authentic storytelling.
  9. Non-Fiction Storytelling
    Storytelling is fine, but the stories brands tell must reflect real brand values and category realities that differentiate and meet consumers' believability criteria, otherwise marketers will end up entertaining rather than engaging.
  10. The Closing of the Showroom
    The consumer will use 5 or more online sources to facilitate actual purchase decisions, reducing reliance on traditional brick-and-mortars retail.
  11. High-End Shoppers Expect High-Tech Shopping Experiences
    Retail will include a seamless transition from human-only service to digital assistants and virtual valets. Watch for more RFID, beacons, and touchscreens to supercharge the retail-shopping experience.
  12. Much More Multiculturalism
    As ethnic groups grow, brands and retailers will integrate a sense of culture and culture-specific brand experience with all forms of outreach.
  13. Online Authenticity
    As 'The Internet of All Things' matures, consumers will expect greater security as regards personal purchase data, which will act as a confidence builder for online sources and the brands using them.
  14. Dead-On Digital
    Brands will shift their digital platform question from "should I be here?" to "what should I do now that I am here?" with success linked not to just outreach alone, but contextual relevance.
  15. Going Native
    Content marketing will continue to become a specialty unto itself and tools like the Digital Platform GPS will optimize placement and resolve issues related to native advertising, digital delivery platforms and shorter consumer attention spans. Metrics will move away from counting the number of views, sharing, and likes toward real brand engagement.

"One doesn't need predictive metrics to observe that every day marketers face new challenges. But, as the saying goes, if you want to do something new, you have to stop doing something old," concluded Passikoff. "These 15 trends provide brands with the opportunity to break habits and embrace new methods of brand engagement, new business models, new technologies, and new and profitable opportunities for the coming year."