Design Method

2018 Adobe Marketing Summit


The message at Adobe’s European event in London last week was that consumers are now buying experiences rather than products. As a result, marketing is also going through a transformational phase, and it is no longer just about brand awareness, it’s about brand purpose too.

According to Gartner, customer experiences will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator by 2020. Delivering content at the right time is rapidly becoming essential to creating genuinely engaging experiences at every customer interaction. If you scratch beneath the surface of keynotes and celebrity stories at last week’s event, here are the themes that dominated conversations.


Several of the Adobe demos were leaning towards voice activation. It seems that we are beginning to explore the possibilities of asking Siri or Alexa to perform tasks in Adobe’s creative suite rather than clicking a mouse. But many will question if voice activation would be suitable for a busy office environment.

However, with more consumers using their voice and digital assistants to find the answers to their questions, it’s clear that businesses need to ensure they remain visible as our web- searching habits change.


With GDPR on the horizon and the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, businesses are understandably cautious about the use of data. But Claire Cronin, CMO, Virgin Atlantic, attempted to put leaders mind at ease when she said, “The speed of change will get faster. But let the customer be your compass.”

The building of personal relationships and friendships takes time and trust. You couldn’t walk up to a complete stranger in the street and ask a series of personal questions, and a business should not be able to either.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach, and every consumer is a unique individual who will ultimately decide what each company knows about them on a case-by-case basis. For example, banks, airlines, or your local gym are much more likely to have earned your trust than an online retailer where you completed a one-time impulse purchase.

“The time has come for experience thinkers to transform into experience makers.”

“The breakneck speed of change AI’s movement is mindblowing, but this pace will never be as slow as it is today.”


Customer-expectation levels are continuously climbing to unprecedented highs. The challenge for businesses is learning what users want to experience and how they can make them feel special by treating them as the unique individual that they are. Traditional marketing involves businesses telling their customers what they want through the power of suggestion. However, the tables have now been turned, and consumers are now advising brands precisely what they want, when, and on what device.

We have all experienced the frustration of repeatedly reporting our issues to multiple sales representatives. Maybe we shouldn’t be too surprised to hear that 87% of customers think brands need to provide a consistent experience.


Marketing to real people is the future of marketing. To create experiences that resonate with your audience, you will need to build a relationship of trust and fuse together data across multiple channels, platforms, and devices. The scale, complexity, and history of data silos previously made this nothing more than a pipe dream.

However, AI can unite all of this information in minutes rather than weeks and will usher in a new era of hyper-personalization. An email asking you to check out the latest holiday season clothing range, on the day that you fly home, is no longer going to cut it.

A combination of AI and machine learning will enable businesses to deliver the right message on your nearest device at the optimal time, and this will quickly become the standard. The breakneck speed of change AI’s movement is mind-blowing, but this pace will never be as slow as it is today.


Victoria Beckham and Anthony Joshua also took to the stage to share their transformation stories. Although their stories are very different, the message was clear. Rather than wasting hours sitting on coloured beanbags discussing how and why you are going to make a difference, you have to make it happen.

This year’s Adobe Summit delivered the same message to businesses of all sizes and in every corner of the world. The customer relationship and experience have become more important than the product, service, or its price.

If you treat your consumers right and provide seamless experiences across a myriad of channels, they might even pay a premium. Why else would UK users spend £79 a year just for membership to Amazon Prime? Welcome to a digital world where people buy experiences, not products.

John Mellor, Adobe’s VP of strategy and marketing, perfectly wrapped up the event by telling the 5,000 attendees that “the time has come for experience thinkers to transform into experience makers.” This direct call to action to the ‘agitators’ and ‘rabble rousers’ was the perfect ending to an inspiring few days. But what are you going to do to make it happen for your business?