Marketing in the New Normal: Predictions for 2021 and Beyond

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2020 has been a grim, chaotic, uncertain year in so many ways. As marketers, one of our fundamental responsibilities is responding to change, and oh, how you did. As we move into 2021, we want to take a look at what has changed, what is likely to remain the same, and, dare we say, what opportunities the “new normal” has created.

Covid-19 impacted this past year in infinite ways, and it will continue to cause uncertainty and lasting change in the world and consumer behavior. Here’s what we expect to see in the coming year:

Brands will get even better at climbing.

For digital marketing and email, it’s increasingly difficult to rise above the “noise” caused by the sheer volume of communications being sent by brands. Brands will have to continue to innovate to ensure their messages don’t stay buried in inboxes. Anticipate:

  • More personalization. Effective individualization, good gathering and usage of data, and smart, consistent testing will be tools heavily used by the brands successfully rising above the volume.
  • Empathy in company with thoughtful communications and touchpoints. We all crave empathy, more than ever given this past year. Expect to see more empathy in communications from brands, to build trust and connection and ultimately lead to more effective, higher quality content that drives stronger results. Heartfelt and wholesome emotions took center stage in holiday ads—this may be a tone we will see more of throughout 2021.
  • More joy, fun and humor. Brands will strive to tap into these emotions to set themselves apart, deliver memorable experiences, and build brand loyalty.

Clever experiences and product design innovation, processes, and solutions will take off.

People are home more, traveling less, and occupying less office space. Businesses recognize that their customers are facing different problems and have different needs. How will businesses stay flexible to meet customers where they are?

  • Innovation, in everything from product design pivots (luggage, home technology, home office gear, casual work wardrobes) to restaurant redesigns. To facilitate touchless pickups, parking lots are being repurposed, store front designs are being updated, and transactional shifts to streamline payments, pickups and deliveries are happening before our eyes.
  • Workplace updates. We will see creative takes on working remotely and finding the tech tools that best support this. Layoffs and retirements will be distractions that tax productivity due to knowledge loss. Compound this with decreased in-person training for new people, meaning the tools have to be better and easier to use. Cloud and SaaS technology will be more important than ever for seamless, nimble operations and workflows. Remote working is the new norm, and office environments and hybrid work models will evolve quickly to reflect this more and more.
  • Embracing the Homebody Economy, at least for the foreseeable future. Consumers have come to expect less friction, more convenience, and fast delivery. But might consumers develop an openness to be more patient and to connect with local retailers and small businesses in new ways? Successful businesses will need to identify ways to leverage these opportunities to win and maintain new customer relationships.

All virtual, all the time, ISO meaningful connections.

In an all-virtual world, brands, consumers, employers and employees will seek to create moments of real human contact. Everything has gone virtual. Will things ever go back to “normal”? Not likely. Some changes are here to stay.

  • Events, conferences and business meetings have all moved online, and some will remain that way. Benefits include cost and time savings (less travel) that allow more people to participate, along with new ways to use technology to not only replicate but improve on in-person conference experiences (perhaps easier networking?). Virtual event platform technology and production will be so much stronger and more compelling when we are on the other side of this pandemic.
  • Lots of pivoting. Brands will continue to pivot and innovate in creative ways, to drive customer engagement and business. Offering Christmas trees online or virtual jewelry sales consultations are just two examples of how businesses are adapting to the all-virtual times. On the other side of the pandemic, some of these features may remain, as they offer a convenience to customers.
  • Brand love is everything. Consumers still crave connections and contact with others. Brands will seek to create moments to build brand love in an increasingly virtual world. There’s no shortage of brands to study, to learn from their resiliency in responding to shifts in consumer demand.

2021 promises more of the “new normal” and evolving adaptations to a post-Covid-19 world. We’re rising to the challenge to help businesses work better, faster and smarter. Contact us to find out more.