There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic will have a long-term impact on not just people’s lifestyles, but also the way brands market to their customers.
From a shift to working from home and a fast acceleration in digital adoption to cautious spending due to economic uncertainty, 2020 will go down in history as a make or break year for brands across industries.
Looking ahead, how can marketers ensure they succeed, particularly in the face of the ever-changing consumer needs and behaviors? As we head into the new year, there are certain trends that will dominate as businesses adapt to the changing landscape.
The Rise of Agile in Marketing
If this year has taught us anything, it is that life can change in an instant. In 2021, agility will be more important than ever and teams that don’t have a versatile planning process in place will struggle to adapt to changes and will likely fall behind the competition.
In the tech world, agility is not a new concept. It’s been in use for many years as a practice of being quick and efficient in regard to approach and tactics. In marketing, agility means constant optimization and quick adaption to changing customer needs based on data. It also means trying new things, failing but quickly pivoting, and scaling the things that succeed. Instead of playing a guessing game in order to stay ahead of the competition and give customers what they want, brands need to have access to high-quality data and use it.
A good example from history is Hyundai, which unlike other car manufacturers, experienced commercial success during the 2007 Global Financial Crisis. Because they dug deeper and found out what was really stopping consumers from buying, and then capitalized on this information, they found success in a time when all others around them were failing.
Emphasis on Value to Customer
One continuing trend that will be relevant in 2021 is the need to gain the consumer’s trust. To help build trust among their audiences, brands need to find new creative ways to emphasize their messaging to reflect the customer’s wants and needs. The customer needs to feel the brand is there to serve them, with marketing that comes across as authentic and illustrates that purpose.
To further drive the importance of value-based marketing, many consumers are likely to face financial difficulties throughout 2021. Subsequently, many people will need to know that a company can truly give them what they need before making a purchase. Whether it’s solving a certain problem or simply increasing convenience, it should be clear what value a product or service can provide.
Value-based marketing may not be the fastest way to convert people as you spend more time building loyalty, but it will be worth it in the end as you gain more loyal customers. If you have customers who continue to turn to you as a provider they trust, even in the most trying times, you can maximize their customer lifetime value (CLV).
With the hectic social and political climate in 2020, many brands have begun to express their core values and beliefs more openly. This trend of brand activism will continue well into 2021. Many companies including Netflix and Nike have invested effort into promoting their positions around certain social issues, including environmental issues and health concerns around COVID-19.
Actively supporting a cause is a marketing strategy that humanizes the brand and cultivates long-lasting relationships with its customers. Buying from a brand that shares the customer’s values creates an emotional connection that goes well beyond the product or service and that is what keeps them coming back.
While focusing on the future of things to come is a good marketing strategy, appealing to the past can also come in handy if you want to stand out in 2021. Considering how daunting much of this year has been, many people seek to recall times that felt freer and more open. As more and more people long for simpler times, nostalgia marketing is another important trend to consider implementing in 2021.
Nostalgia makes people more likely to feel emotional about a brand. Not only can it charm audiences and therefore generate more awareness about the brand, but it can also make them more willing to spend money on its products or services as they seek that familiar comfort. In order to succeed, nostalgia marketing has to come across as authentic and align with the brand’s identity and values. Failing to do so can do more harm than good and cause the brand to be seen as irrelevant and out of touch.
Shopping on Mobile Devices
The trend towards mobile shopping continues as consumers take advantage of shopping remotely. This was further supported by the recent shelter-in-place orders across the world, and the ease of ordering that mobile applications gave to consumers. In April 2020, digital grocery services alone experienced a 43-percent increase in new users, as revealed in a Business Insider Intelligence survey, a trend that is likely to continue to grow through 2021.
In short, the ability to shop on mobile s going to become more and more appealing as time goes on and new mobile shopping services are introduced. If you have the opportunity to give your customers the chance to order via an app or mobile-responsive website, the chances are high that you will get a much higher ROI from your marketing campaigns.
Using DTC for Consumer-Packaged Goods
When it comes to consumer-packaged goods, companies have historically depended on retail and wholesale for distribution. The paradigm has since shifted with both the introduction of the pandemic and the increasing convenience of online shopping. In an attempt to give people what they want, when they want it, many companies have worked to maximize convenience by using a direct-to-consumer (DTC) model. If you can bypass wholesalers, retailers, and other third parties that may come between you and the customer, now’s the time to embrace DTC marketing.
Augmented Reality (AR)
Many people are looking for better ways to interact with their favorite brands remotely, while still getting a near in-store experience. In response, many brands have implemented augmented reality to give their customers a fully immersive shopping experience without having to leave their homes.
As an example, furniture stores like IKEA have given customers the ability to use augmented reality to place life-size virtual representations of furniture pieces in a space of their choosing. This helps customers decide whether the piece is a good fit for their home, as they can play around with different colors and textures and see a complete 3D rendering in their home before buying.
The good news is that the capabilities of today’s applications make implementing augmented reality easier than ever before. There is practically no limit to what you can do with AR today, and more innovations are underway in 2021.