Industry snapshot: Tariq Al Sharabi, Cicero & Bernay Communication Consultancy


Tariq Al Sharabi, Managing Director, Cicero & Bernay Communication Consultancy

What were the biggest shifts you saw in digital in 2021?

Just as 2021 was coming to a close, a number of stories took precedence that are anticipated to switch things up. Facebook’s foray into the metaverse may prove to be the next big thing, with marketers already attempting to quantify its value given its blueprint of VR/AR integration; NFTs are at the heart of countless conversations and debates, with the internet divided on decrying on or celebrating them; and TikTok continued its dominance.

What will be the most notable changes be in 2022?

The consumer-first mentality will continue to be an overarching theme. Also, following the meteoric rise of e-commerce over the past two years, as the pandemic transitions to something we live with, people will be looking forward to experiencing things in person again, from going to restaurants and visiting showrooms to purchase cars, or resuming a life of travel. Marketers will have to adapt to the evolving consumer journey. Otherwise, insights into the further potential of AI will be unravelled, and I estimate voice search optimisation to get stronger, especially when considering the amplified adoption of 5G networks.

What are the biggest challenges this year, and how should clients overcome them?

Brands will have to look inward and re-evaluate the relevancy of their products or services. The consumer journey changed multiple times over the past two years due to the pandemic, and now, we are entering an expanded new phase where brands are finding themselves in an even more competitive environment to gain customers’ attention. As such, relevance will maintain its position at the forefront of all strategies, and everything a business does will have to be meticulously calculated in a contemporary world that is increasingly favouring quality over quantity.

What should clients do to make the most of the biggest opportunities?

In order to resonate and make an impact in this fast-changing world, clients must be brave and more adventurous with their communication. Going into 2022, many businesses still adhere too closely to their guidelines, restricting any experimentation and coming off rigid and resistant to change. Clients should also embrace a younger generation to lead the way in the digital reality we now live in and engage and partner with agile, flexible agencies towards paving the path forward.

What digital new year’s resolution should people make this year?

If there is one resolution that needs to be underpinned above all else, it is the need to deliver on and invest in people’s happiness. Give them their 15 minutes of fame and you will earn their loyalty, embrace online challenges and invite people to join the movement. The reason why digital platforms are thriving is they give people a chance to disconnect from their lives and belong to a completely other world where content is being created just for them. If you succeed in engaging them with your online content while also keeping them happy, you effectively will have won the digital lottery.