From changing the ways in which we work to how we shop, eat, and even entertain ourselves, the pandemic has had a far-reaching effect on every aspect of our lives. The stay-at-home orders that were mandated across the world in 2020 meant that in-person events were canceled and consumers were unable even to get together with their friends and family.
This led to an exponential increase in the number of people tuning into live-streams, whether it was a podcast, a real-time music concert, or a live video from a much-loved celebrity, or an online upskilling workshop. Birthdays and events were celebrated online, and this year the New Year was ushered in through virtual festivities.
It was envisaged that live viewings on Facebook surged by 50% during lockdown periods, and the numbers on Instagram were even higher – to the tune of 70%. TikTok was another online platform that saw a huge uptick in popularity. These new habits have become ingrained in society, and we can expect that this trend will continue through 2021 as well.
Influencers on social media have played a large role in instilling trust in certain brands that they advocate, and this is likely to continue to be a great way to promote products and services. Amazon Live and Instagram Stories were all shoppable, right from the app, and viewers could make purchases even while they watched the videos.
Transparency and a focus on ethics is another key differentiator in 2021. The 2021 Hootsuite Social Trends report notes that:
“The smartest brands will understand where they fit into customers’ lives on social media, and they’ll find creative ways of fitting into the conversation.”
Customers are not likely to connect with brands that are not honest and ethical. Unless they trust in your brand and believe in what it stands for, they will not opt to buy into your products or services. To flourish in these turbulent times, brands must be attuned to the pulse of their customers.
Brands that promote goodwill and publicly showcase their caring will rule over the competition. The Hilton gave away free rooms for medical heroes, and Chanel created chic face masks that were given away to the needy during the pandemic.
Your customers are always the backbone of all your marketing efforts, and customer experience has never been more important than it is today! Customers are always likely to go back to brands that create memorable experiences. If you are able to put out content that they can relate to, and that creates a lasting impression, then they will be convinced that buying into your brand is the right choice.
User-generated content (UGC) builds and strengthens communities, and enables brands to connect with customers in meaningful ways, even while they are staying at home!
We are in an era where there is growing consciousness around keeping our planet green. Eco-friendly and sustainable practices are strongly advocated by forward-thinking consumers, and in fact a whopping 81% of consumers strongly feel that companies should do all they can to help improve the environment.
Over the past decade, brands have laid more emphasis on green practices, whether it is in the form of organic packaging, waste-free products, or chemical-free manufacturing processes. Practices and principles that do not stress the environment are bound to find favour with the public. As the focus on a greener planet continues, consumers are actively looking for brands that are purpose-driven and mindful about the environment.
We hope this is a marketing trend that will grow in popularity for all the right reasons, and we strongly believe that all brands should reinforce their commitment to sustainability in 2021.
Inclusive marketing is one that truly reflects the diverse communities that we live in. In 2020, the Black Lives Matter movement served to show just how important the issue of inclusivity has become to the world that we live in.
Recently, a study by Accenture shows that the shift in the mindset towards inclusivity is having an impact on purchase behavior as well. As many as 41% of shoppers shy away from retailers which don’t subscribe to their own views on identity, equity and diversity. Out of them, 29% are willing to move to a new brand completely if they don’t show enough empathy to social issues on matters such as these.
It is likely that brands that don’t involve themselves in the inclusivity conversation will be impacted in a negative way in 2021. However, brands which openly showcase their involvement in inclusive causes will be able to forge deeper relationships with their buyers.
Alexa, Siri and their counterparts are being used more frequently, with an increasing number of consumers using these voice-activated tools for their search queries. With smart speakers and voice-enabled technology being more readily available, voice search is likely to prevail in 2021. Again, tools like Google Lens enable customers to search online for anything they can see. This makes visual search, too, an increasingly popular option in the years to come.
What this means for marketers is that they will need to focus even more on supporting voice queries, image alt-text and sitemaps for images, to stay ahead in the race to the top in the SEO world.
It is predicted that if websites are redesigned to support visual and voice search, foot traffic and, correspondingly, revenue from digital commerce will increase by 30%.
Content that can be consumed on the go, like podcasts, or newsletters that you can subscribe to, are going to increase in relevance. Research indicated that 55% of Americans prefer to listen to podcasts to catch up with the world, while newsletter mentions were up 14% during the lockdown, and the numbers are similar in other tech-savvy countries across the world.
Marketing experts who can tap into this growing trend will be able to reach the pulse of the market quickly and increase revenues. By creating readily accessible content like podcasts and newsletters, brands can connect more deeply with customers and stay in touch to announce updates and events.
2020 was unpredictable, to say the least. It was a year that forced all of us to press pause and rethink the ways in which we live our lives. The lockdown moved a large part of our activities to the virtual world, and many people spent a huge part of their lives online. This trend will continue for the foreseeable future, and brands that forge a stronger online presence will rise to the top.
Live-streams will continue, the accent on sustainability and inclusivity will continue on their upward trajectory, and purpose-driven user-generated content will rule the markets.