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Header 10 Innovation Trends for Brand Managers + Examples
Aaron Rutherford8 min read

10 Innovation Trends for Brand Managers + Activation Ideas | May 2023

Brand managers have the challenging task of staying ahead of the curve and adapting to new technologies and market trends in a rapidly evolving digital landscape. At the same time is an exciting opportunity to leverage digital change as a vehicle for growth and competitive advantage.

A key step to capitalizing on these opportunities is continuously exploring and experimenting with fresh, creative, and compelling ways your brand can deliver new value propositions, customer experiences, and business models. Making it actionable requires a foundational working knowledge of current trends, technologies, and competitors shaping the future of your market.

In this article, we'll delve into these emerging trends and offer actionable ideas to take advantage of these opportunities in your business. From Phygital Commerce to Generative AI, there's a wealth of opportunity waiting for you. Let's dive in.


1. Phygital Commerce

Phygital Commerce is the fusion of physical and digital experiences and enables a seamless shopping experience for consumers. As online shopping continues to grow, brand managers must embrace this trend and find innovative ways to merge the online and offline worlds. A good example is Amazon's Amazon Go stores which use advanced RFID and computer vision technology to create a seamless shopping experience. Customers can walk in, pick up items, and walk out without waiting in line or scanning products.

⚡  Make it Actionable  

Fuse digital and physical worlds of retail and beyond

To leverage Phygital Commerce, consider incorporating technologies like augmented reality, virtual reality, mobile apps, and IoT devices into your brick-and-mortar locations. This will create a more engaging and immersive experience for your customers, driving loyalty and repeat business.

2. Immersive Experiences & Media

Immersive Experiences are all about engaging customers on a deeper level, using sensory marketing to create memorable interactions with your brand. This might include multisensory product displays, interactive installations, or virtual reality experiences that transport users to a different world. A recent example is Gucci's Virtual 25, a digital-only sneaker designed exclusively for the metaverse, allowing users to showcase their unique style in virtual environments.


⚡  Make it Actionable  


Engage customers through sensorial marketing experiences

To create Immersive Experiences, think about how you can leverage technology and design to engage all five senses. This might involve creating a VR showroom, developing a mobile app with augmented reality features, or adding touchscreens and interactive displays to your physical locations.

3. Hyper-Personalization

Hyper-Personalization involves using data and advanced analytics to tailor customer experiences on an individual level. This could encompass personalized product recommendations, targeted promotions, or even custom content based on a customer's preferences and behaviors. For instance, Spotify's Discover Weekly playlists use data-driven insights to curate a unique selection of songs tailored to each user's music tastes.

⚡  Make it Actionable  


Deliver tailored customer experiences with data-driven insights

To achieve Hyper-Personalization, invest in data collection tools and analytics platforms that enable you to gather insights about your customers. Use this information to inform your marketing strategies, creating personalized experiences that resonate with your target audience.

4. Precision Marketing

Hyper Targeting takes personalization a step further, allowing brand managers to reach specific customer segments with laser-focused precision. This involves using data and analytics to identify high-value customer segments and crafting messaging that speaks directly to their needs and desires. For example, Nike's Nike By You platform enables customers to design their own custom sneakers, targeting a niche audience of creative, style-conscious consumers.

⚡  Make it Actionable  

Develop one-to-one humanized campaigns in contextual formats

To implement Hyper Targeting, invest in advanced segmentation tools and marketing automation platforms that enable you to identify your most valuable customer segments. Develop targeted campaigns that speak directly to their needs, interests, and preferences.


5. Circular Business Models

Circular Business Models focus on reducing waste and promoting sustainability by reusing, recycling, or repurposing resources throughout the product lifecycle. This might include creating products from recycled materials, offering repair services, or developing take-back programs for end-of-life products. An example is Apple's iPhone Upgrade Program which encourages customers to trade in their old devices for credit towards a new iPhone, reducing electronic waste and promoting a more circular economy.

⚡  Make it Actionable  


Implement tangible solutions for a more sustainable future

To adopt a Circular Business Model, assess your current production processes and identify areas where you can reduce waste or incorporate more sustainable practices. Consider partnering with eco-friendly suppliers, investing in resource-efficient technologies, or exploring new business models that promote a circular economy.


6. Generative AI

Generative AI involves using machine learning algorithms to create new content, designs, or solutions based on existing data inputs. This can help brand managers develop innovative products, streamline marketing processes, or even generate entirely new ideas. For example, OpenAI's DALL-E uses generative AI to create original images based on text descriptions, opening up new possibilities for creative design and content generation.

⚡  Make it Actionable  

Design and run experiments with artificial intelligence... everywhere

To leverage Generative AI, explore AI-driven platforms and tools that can help you generate new ideas, designs, or content for your brand. This might involve using AI-powered design software, content generation tools, or even machine learning algorithms that can help you optimize your marketing strategies.

7. Voice Commerce

Voice Commerce is an emerging trend that involves customers using voice-activated devices, like Amazon Echo or Google Home, to make purchases. With the growing popularity of smart speakers and voice assistants, brand managers must adapt their strategies to capture sales in this new channel. For instance, Domino's Pizza allows customers to order pizza through Alexa or Google Assistant, making it easy for users to place an order without lifting a finger.

⚡  Make it Actionable  


Tap into the growing market of voice-activated shopping

To capitalize on Voice Commerce, optimize your website and content for voice search, ensuring that your brand is easily discoverable through voice-activated devices. Additionally, consider partnering with voice assistant platforms to develop custom skills or integrations that enable customers to interact with your brand through voice commands.

8. Influencer Marketing 2.0

Influencer Marketing 2.0 involves building authentic, long-term partnerships with content creators who share your brand's values and can help you reach your target audience in a more genuine way. Rather than relying on one-off endorsements, brand managers should focus on developing deeper relationships with influencers and leveraging their unique skills and expertise to create compelling content. Glossier's Brand Ambassador Program connects the brand with passionate fans who create content, host events and engage with their communities on behalf of the brand.

⚡  Make it Actionable  


Move beyond traditional endorsements and prioritize authentic partnerships

To embrace Influencer Marketing 2.0, identify influencers who align with your brand values and can help you reach your target audience. Develop long-term partnerships with these creators, collaborating on content and campaigns that showcase your brand in an authentic, engaging way.


9. Experiential Marketing

Experiential Marketing is all about creating memorable, immersive events and experiences that help customers connect with your brand on a deeper level. This might involve hosting pop-up shops, product launches, or interactive installations that encourage customers to engage with your brand in a more tangible way. A recent example is IKEA's Home of Tomorrow, an immersive exhibition that showcased the brand's innovative sustainable living solutions in a hands-on, experiential setting.

⚡  Make it Actionable  


Lean on storytelling and immersive events to forge new connections with your customers

To leverage Experiential Marketing, think about how you can create memorable, immersive experiences that showcase your brand's unique story and products. This might involve hosting events, partnering with other brands or influencers, or even developing virtual reality experiences that transport customers to a different world.


10. Social Commerce

Social Commerce involves using social media platforms to drive sales, leveraging features like shoppable posts, in-app checkout, and live shopping events to create seamless shopping experiences for customers. As social media continues to play a larger role in consumers' lives, brand managers must adapt their strategies to capture sales through these platforms. For example, Instagram's Shopping feature allows brands to tag products in their posts, making it easy for users to shop directly from their feeds.

⚡  Make it Actionable  

Turn social followers and digital communities into customers with seamless shopping experiences

To capitalize on Social Commerce, optimize your social media profiles for shopping, adding shoppable posts, product tags, and in-app checkout options where available. Additionally, consider hosting live shopping events or partnering with influencers to promote your products through social media channels.


Are you ready to propel your brand into the future?

By embracing the latest trends and technologies you can create a competitive edge for your company and forge new pathways for growth. Sustainability, personalization, digital transformation, voice technology, and augmented reality - all are rapidly changing the CPG market.

As innovative minds keep pushing to revolutionize an often-staid industry, it's more important than ever to apply cutting-edge technology to your business. Where to start? Create a culture of innovation within your organization and foster a mindset that embraces change. Don't miss out on the opportunity to stay ahead of the game!



Pilot44 is the modern innovation studio for the enterprise. We help our clients navigate emerging innovation frontiers, accelerate digital transformation, and build entirely new businesses, brands, and digital experiences. Collectively we have created over $500M in value for some of the most iconic brands and businesses in the world including Procter & Gamble, Nestlé, Diageo, Sanofi, Pepsi, Kellogg, Albertsons, and more.


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Aaron Rutherford

Aaron is a proven digital innovator and business operator. He has over a decade of experience partnering with business leaders to accelerate growth in dynamic business environments - from startups to global brands. He is a trusted partner in navigating change and delivering creative solutions at the intersection of disruptive technology, experience strategy, and business design to unlock new customer value and brand growth.