Marketing 5.0, technology and humanity

I am a huge fan of Kotler. I think his best book was “Marketing 3.0“.  For a brand to be authentic, there needs to be a full alignment with the culture in the organisation. That means that the most important function in the company is your HR director.

Marketing 5.0

He then wrote “Marketing 4.0” and now “Marketing 5.0: Technology for Humanity”. From spiritual marketing (3.0) to digital (4.0) to the application of human-mimicking technologies to create, communicate, deliver, and enhance value across the customer journey (5.0). Where the objective is to create a new customer experience (CX) that is frictionless and compelling. Marketing 5.0 centres around three interrelated applications: predictive marketing, contextual marketing, and augmented marketing.

Buddhist marketing

Delivering tech-empowered human interaction. Providing the right offers at the right moments and to the right customers. Everything is on-demand, the new WWW (whatever, whenever, wherever). Total-customer-experience innovation. Data-driven, agile, contextual, inclusive and sustainable. Buddhist marketing, if you will.  A combination of ethics, talk triggers, ZMOT, FMOT, SMOT, UMOT, and technology.

Finding balance

Companies need to balance between two goals: maximise value creation for the present and start positioning the brands for the future. Marketing against the backdrop of three major challenges: generation gap, prosperity polarisation, and the digital divide.

Generation gap

The disconnect between the older corporate executives who make most decisions and their younger managers and customers will prove to be a significant stumbling block. Marketers worldwide are also facing the challenge of serving five different generations: Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y, Generation Z, and Generation Alpha. And every generation is shaped by a different socio-cultural environment and life experience.  To serve Generation Z and Generation Alpha, the two most important generations in the next decade, it is not just about the application of technology. Instead, it is about how to use technology to enable human-centric solutions.

Inequality and polarisation

Marketers will also face chronic inequality and imbalanced wealth distribution, which causes the markets to polarise. Indeed one of humanity’s toughest challenges is the widening gap between the rich and the poor, making society extremely polarised in every facet of life. Discussions on gender equality, clean energy, and smart cities only seem prominent among the elites. Meanwhile, at the other end of the spectrum, people struggle to get out of poverty and have access to food, healthcare, and basic sanitation. Sunil Prashara, the CEO of PMI, classified it as part of existential VUCA and a fundamental shock to the system. Polarisation of society, work, ideology, lifestyles and markets. From the future growth point of view, the social activism that companies conduct will prove a good investment.

Human centric

Human-centricity has become mainstream. Thousands of companies have put particular focus on their social and environmental impact, even actively using it as a major source of innovation. It has become a hygiene factor that without a broader vision, mission, and values, brands have no license to compete. Customers are increasingly making their buying decisions based on their perceptions of a company’s ethical conduct. Brands should develop and nurture—not only exploit—the markets in which they are competing.

EX and CX

The external trends tend to mirror the internal dynamics as well. Diversity, inclusion, and equal opportunity in the workplace have become a must-have in a war for talent, significantly influencing the recruitment, remuneration, and people-development practices. Understanding employee experience (EX) is equally essential as understanding customer experience (CX).


The emergence of technologies that aim to emulate the capabilities of human marketers. It includes AI, NLP, sensors, robotics, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), IoT, and blockchain. The ability of marketers to personalise their marketing strategy to each customer—a process known as “segments of one. With AI’s machine learning, companies can envision if a new product with specific features is likely to succeed with the assistance of a predictive algorithm. AI can also help reveal shopping patterns useful for e-retailers to recommend the right products and content to a cluster of shoppers based on their profiles.

We are still human

Soon, the connector between us and the digital world will no longer be limited to our mobile phones. The interface will expand to smaller devices that are wearable and even implantable in human bodies—creating an augmented living. On the other hand, the three somewhat fuzzy and intuitive elements (noise, insight, and wisdom) will stay within the human realm. Despite its computational power, however, only humans can understand other humans. The reason for this is because human intelligence is highly contextual yet fuzzy. Nobody knows how seasoned marketers extract insights and develop wisdom. And technologists have not managed to build a machine that can make a human-level connection with customers.

Noise is a distortion or deviation in data and can be a major distraction when grouping the data in structured clusters. But an outlier can either be a valid variability or an error. This is where humans, businesspeople instead of data scientists, play a role in deciding whether to keep or filter out the outlier. Serendipity management.


Human judgment in filtering the noises is vital. Many market researchers or ethnographers frequently discover meaningful insights while watching unorthodox customer behaviours. Due to their rare occurrence, these unusual observations are usually deemed to have no statistical significance. The qualitative aspect of finding insights beyond well-established knowledge is best suited to humans’ instinctive nature. Anthropology as the last mile of dataAt the top of the hierarchy, there is wisdom, which is perhaps the most challenging virtue for machines to imitate from humans.


For any tasks that require empathy, human-to-human connection offers the best solutions. Humans long for genuine connection with brands, which paradoxically has become scarce in the connected era. Humans are truly irreplaceable when it comes to building heartfelt connections.


There is no doubt that businesses must make the most of marketing technology. However, the major question for business leaders is how to determine which technologies to implement, as not all will fit the overall corporate strategies. Targeting and serving a customer without knowing the future income the customer will bring is a marketing investment nightmare. Hence the customer equity model. It measures customer lifetime value (CLV). The golden rule of Peter Thiel (CAS < CLV). It provides a long-term, forward-looking view on the return of investment. The role of analytics in estimating the CLV is to predict a customer’s response to the upselling and cross-selling offerings.

One on one marketing

Once the customers are profiled, and their CLVs are calculated, marketers can implement next-best-action (NBA) marketing. It is a customer-centric approach in which marketers have orchestrated a clear, step-by-step action plan for each customer. Preferably creating a direct channel to customer premises. IoT at premises, Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri. Give Amazon, Google and Apple a deeper penetration into the private lives and desires of consumers than any other company. Moving from personalised, customised to total immersion, at which marketers engage customers deeply in sensory experiences.

What to do

  • Identify how technology can be a solution
  • Map all the touchpoints and decide which technology is appropriate
  • Build a real-time analytics capability
  • Focus on change management
  • Establish decentralised teams
  • Develop a flexible product platform
  • Go agile
  • Perform rapid experimentation
  • Embrace open innovation


We are going full circle. The same language is used when we talk about transformation, Creating gymnastic organisations. The amalgamation of the project revolution, citizen development, organisational design and  marketing 5.0. A truly fluid organisation. Based on structure, discipline, mastery, power skills and lots of practice. It reminds me of the principles of the special forces or the skill set of a Masterchef. We can now add the master-marketeer to the mix.

Technology versus humanity

Gerd Leonard would like this book.


sensemaking cover


Sense making; morality, humanity, leadership and slow flow. A book about the 14 books about the impact and implications of technology on business and humanity.

Ron Immink

I help companies by developing an inspiring and clear future perspective, which creates better business models, higher productivity, more profit and a higher valuation. Best-selling author, speaker, writer.

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