Three trends that will define Marketing in 2021 | Position²

Marketing 2021: Three Trends That Will Define The Year

Marketers, are you ready for marketing’s new normal?

COVID-19 has had an unprecedented impact on marketing globally. As businesses rebound, marketers are required to know the pulse of their consumers. Marketers will need to think differently from the past to respond to the new demands of the consumer.

What follows are the three macro trends that will impact marketing worldwide. Marketing Tips provided can be a great starting point to tackle these challenges. Geographic, economic, and cultural micro trends may evolve, and influence marketing as the world comes out of COVID. But the trends discussed here will continue to be some of the main influencers. Thus, their implications for marketers warrant careful consideration and thoughtful action.

Trend #1: Digital Adoption

COVID-19 fast tracked digital adoption across the world and across industries. People in unprecedented proportions shifted to digital channels.

Digital Adoption

Overnight, the traditional model of in-office work went online. Face-to-face meetings became Google Meet or Zoom meetings. Kids were catapulted from in-class learning to online. Traditionally off-line events and conferences, from SMX to MarTech to Adobe to Forrester, went virtual. Shoppers chose online ordering to an in-shop experience.

As consumers went online in record proportions, companies and industries responded. Many firms leveraged digital platforms and tools to efficiently manage their business and internal processes. Slack and Microsoft Teams saw a significant jump in usage. At Position2, our internal communication and campaign management platform Arena helped with mass communication, project management and digital campaign performance management. Arena bridged the gap between our global clients and teams.

Many companies created digital and digitally-enabled offerings in 2020 to support their service and product portfolio. According to one Mckinsey report, globally there is an average of a seven- to 10-year jump in the rate at which companies were developing these products and services.

The ease of use of digital platforms, the efficiencies driven, and the collaboration enabled will only evolve. As a result, digital adoption will only increase in the future. Therefore, it is fair to say that the digital or digitally driven ecosystem of interconnected technologies is here to stay. Companies and their leaders need to adapt to this phenomenon to stay ahead and thrive.

Marketing 2021 Tip

As marketers, you will need to identify platforms and technologies that will help you build digitally-enabled client experiences and workplace ecosystems. You will need to start moving some, if not all, of your offline experiences online.

The questions to answer are: How can I engage my customers, partners, and vendors digitally for the next six to nine months as the world slowly limps back to normal? Think about all the touchpoints that can go digital. Which touchpoints are impactful and easy to implement digitally? What are the measurable and scalable digital initiatives I can conquer quickly? Your answers to these questions will pave the way to a digitally enabled experience that supports your organization and your goals.

Trend #2: Shifting Consumer Behavior

The pandemic has disrupted old consumer behaviors. Loyalty towards brands was quickly replaced with the economics of shopping and ease of access. Essentials and value are now driving consumer buying. Consumption on digital devices offered a fast and safe alternative buying that could be accessed from the comfort of homes. These new shopping behaviors are here to stay. Similarly, the adoption of video chat and messaging apps, and Social Media has gone up. A study by PWC shows that greater than 75% of those surveyed said that they would continue with these behaviors in the future.

Shifting Consumer Behavior

Thanks to the ubiquitousness of mobile phones, wifi, and mobile data, post-COVID consumers dictate the what, how, and when of purchases or interactions. Micro-events and in-the-moment interface with a brand will help increase affiliation and loyalty. But brands are no longer in the driver’s seat.

The rise of apps, the ease of ordering online, and the simplicity of digital content interaction will make online consumption the norm. To cater to this behavioral shift, companies will need to increase their presence online and offer a much better experience.

In the technology driven hyper connected consumer world, the desire to buy from you is directly proportional to positive reviews and influencers’ recommendations.

The desire to buy from you is directly proportional to positive reviews and influencers recommendations

Brands that can connect their product or service to a consumer’s need will win. If consumers have had a bad experience with your brand, the news will spread like wildfire, impacting a large chunk of your sales.

Marketing 2021 Tip

To ensure consumer centricity, brands will need to personalize the experience or product. Experiential and personalized marketing will be very powerful in 2021. This type of marketing can be delivered via your website, social channels, or even through an app. It can also leverage AR. For example, you can offer the consumer a product experience without even having them to step into the store. This is what L’Oréal and Timberland did with their make-up and accessories respectively. You can also use AR or VR in B2B to train your sales or clients with interactive products. This technology can help conduct virtual immersive events.

Personalized experiences can also be delivered via email. By combining first-party and third-party data you can build an ideal customer profile (ICP) with detailed behaviors, interests, and in-market needs. You then build an online engagement strategy with a series of emails, custom content or targeted ads relevant to them. You can also deliver a highly personal, 1 on 1 experience to consumers via online chat.

The bottom line: personalized experience is a prerequisite. Organizations need to shift from brand centricity (self-obsessed) to customer centricity.

Trend #3: Marketing Technology

No surprise that technology is playing a huge role in marketing today. The rise of marketing technology is going to be exponentially greater in the future.

Marketing Technology

With cloud and computing power becoming easily accessible and cost-effective by the day, technology will be an efficient and effective way to run marketing, be it online or offline. The fact that there are over 8,000 marketing solutions available is a testament to that.

With technology, companies can now accelerate and optimize every consumer touch point. These range from e-commerce purchases to online-brand interactions to simple content consumption. Furthermore, complex multi-channel and multi-dimensional customer relationships are becoming easier to manage.

Marketing 2021 Tip

As you look at the many ways to add to your marketing technologies, your tech stack can become complex and difficult to manage. But the manageability of the stack is what will help marketers thrive. By focusing on tech stack governance, you will increase interconnectedness and decrease redundancy-driven wastage.

Along with the tech stack governance, marketers need to think of accurate data integration and insights. Connecting various data pipes can be daunting. But accomplishing this enables you to run synchronized activities across channels. This can propel the brand and consumer loyalty forward. Strong interactive data visuals enable you to dig right into the problem. Thus, integration and solid data science that can feed intelligence into this data are critical for a marketing manager or a CMO to win.

In Conclusion

2021 will be the year of transformation. For marketers, the changes to consumer behavior have already been set in motion with large-scale digital adoption. Thus, it is safe to say that consumers are already on the fast track towards a digital-led lifestyle.

The resulting changes in consumer behaviors will only evolve and are here to stay. The trends discussed here will continue to shape the next normal and will impact marketing for years. With foresight, innovation, and consumer centricity, brands and marketers can find enduring success.

Sajjan Kanukolanu

January 29, 2021

By Sajjan Kanukolanu