LONDON: The fragmentation of channels and the deluge of data enabled by digital mean that it is more important than ever for marketers to align brand product and purpose with value to the customer, according to a leading industry figure.

Writing in the 50th anniversary issue of Admap, which looks ahead to the future of brand communications, Scott Symonds, managing director/media, at digital agency AKQA, argued that, as push marketing to broad demographic groups has been replaced by the targeting of smaller groups based on behaviours and interests, "the future of marketing is more closely analogous to CRM at scale than broadcast".

In an article titled Marketing in the age of fragmentation, Symonds said this development meant marketers needed to plan as much for the 'pull' side of customer relationships as they had previously done for 'push'.

The implications of this include: multiple consumer segments and platforms to be addressed, a greater reliance on technology for media planning, and the advance of programmatic into the creative sphere.

Brands will also have to "rethink classic constructs of marketing", to the extent of questioning what brand loyalty even means in an age of real-time marketing and instant ROI feedback.

"Emotional loyalty to a brand earned through marketing and product use is now significantly threatened," Symonds stated, "to be replaced with mechanical loyalty to a brand through automated refill relationships from scaled e-commerce providers such as Amazon and"

In some categories even that mechanical loyalty was dying out – such as the diminishing interest of millennials in buying a car. Auto brands, therefore, are having to look at reinventing themselves as a service available on demand via apps rather than relying on ownership or leasing.

But that new relationship could potentially result in greater consumer loyalty, suggested Symonds, "by through delivering experience and utility across all the models of a brand for satisfying different occasions of consumer need".

Marketers faced with the daunting task of charting their way through this fragmented landscape need to hang on to "the common currency" of data, which Symonds described as "the thread we can pull through our marketing strategies and across our consumers' devices to create consistent and relevant experiences for them".

But even that focus was unlikely to be enough, as not all data is equally valid or valuable.

"The best way to consistently navigate the chaos of available data and multitude of channels successfully is to focus obsessively on delivering increased relevance and value for our consumers," Symonds concluded.

Data sourced from Admap