Remember all the cool technology we’ve been promised for the last decade? Driverless cars, true augmented reality, the Internet of Things, AI, smart cities, Hover Boards! Well the onset of 5G is going to make all of those things a reality of daily life for most of us (well sadly not Hover Boards), and that provides a range of opportunities, and some considerable challenges, for marketing managers and their brand strategy.

 

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This week I was lucky enough to spend some time wandering around the GSMA’s Mobile World Congress 2019 (MWC) in Shanghai. The GSMA is the industry association for organizations involved in the mobile communications tech space, and the innovation on display at the event was truly amazing.

 

And the topic on everyone’s lips, stands and displays was the soon to be realized 5G mobile network, the latest generation of mobile wireless technology that’s sole purpose is to increase the speed and responsiveness of wireless networks. The previous iteration, (4G…. obviously) allowed for the onset of video streaming, app stores and burgeoning AI. 5G is going to take this all to the next level.

 

Imagine you get into your car, use the voice activated software to programme your GPS and tell the car where you want it to drive you to. In the meantime, you can use the in-car smart device to order your dinner so that it arrives at home when you do, turn on your washing machine so its spin cycle is done by the time you’ve got through your front door, and tell your fridge to make extra ice so you can make yourself a cold drink, then kick back and enjoy the ride home by streaming your favorite Netflix show on the car’s HUD. Oh, and if by some twist of fate, you get into an accident on your way home, don’t worry, the emergency services already know where you are and help is on the way in the form of a remote driven medic-drone. Your insurance provider has already been informed. If you’ve run out of that favorite cold drink of yours, then your fridge has already order it from the supermarket and its ready for you to pick up on your way home.

 

All of the above is not as far fetched as it sounds as most of the tech that would make the above scenario a reality was on display at MWC 2019, with 5G making it all possible.

 

Now not everyone is as excited about 5G, as Mark Ritson noted in his recent Marketing Week Column, there is plenty of industry skepticism about, but if things do evolve as expected, there will be plenty of benefits for marketers and their brand strategy. There will now be more touch points to reach consumers than ever before, with high-quality, high-definition, customized content. There are also some significant technical advantages. As Anne Bouleanu highlighted in her recent a.list article, 5G could be the end of ad blocker technology for example. In addition, marketers will also have access to more data than they’ve ever had before.

 

Of course there will be additional challenges. 5G technology will see another sea change for the customer experience with more potential pain points. Consumers will have more opportunities to interact with brands, and more opportunity to tell the world about anything negative they have experienced. Word of this negative experience will spread further and faster than ever before so brands have to be ready to respond accordingly. Also, all that additional data has to be managed and analyzed to make it actually useful.

 

The ‘pros’ vastly out weight the ‘cons’ however, and China is an exciting place to be at this time as the country is very much leading the way on mobile technology and 5G. This gives China marketers exciting new opportunities to evolve their brand strategies, create amazing new brand experiences, and engage with consumers like never before.

 

I’m still holding out hope for a Hover Board though!

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