Janét Aizenstros is the CEO of Ahava Digital, which provides corporations with ethically-sourced verified data on American consumers.
This year has been a roller coaster of unprecedented changes as the Covid-19 pandemic wreaked havoc around the globe. During the first quarter of the year, we witnessed significant shifts in consumer spending as the uncertainty caused people to stock up on essentials. Lockdowns forced people to rely on online services for work, entertainment, shopping and other matters. These changes have paved the way for new marketing trends, which I will highlight in this article, but first, let’s review the factors that affect marketing trends and how companies respond to them.
Factors Affecting Marketing Trends And Responses
All the essential parts of a business, including production and finance, can significantly impact a company’s marketing strategy and how it responds to trends. For example, a business with a limited marketing budget may not leverage multiple channels to reach a wider audience.
Four external factors influence marketing trends and how companies respond:
1. The Economy
The economy helps shape marketing trends as it has a direct effect on consumption. Expansion, peak, contraction and trough are the four stages of the economic cycle, and they all greatly affect marketing campaigns, prices and products.
Competitors offering similar products and services can influence marketing trends and strategies. Although competition is a business challenge, it can also help you strategically plan your marketing campaign to gain an advantage over your competitors.
Demographics play an important role in an organization’s marketing strategy. Age, gender, race and ethnicity, marital status, income, etc., can significantly impact customer spending behavior.
4. Sociocultural Factors
Sociocultural factors significantly impact marketing trends, and these factors often call for different marketing campaigns. Successful marketing campaigns leverage these sociocultural factors to build a connection with customers and encourage consumption.
The Top Marketing Trends For 2021
Now the moment of truth: Deloitte has identified the top global marketing trends for 2021. Here’s my take on them based on what I’ve seen happening in the marketing industry.
Defining And Highlighting Purpose
Businesses that know why they exist, whom they serve and their purpose have successfully navigated through these uncertain times. When many businesses are struggling to find their feet, CMOs who understand their company’s purpose and know how to highlight it are the drivers of this navigation.
Recently, Burger King put its long-standing rivalry with McDonald’s aside and asked people to order from its biggest competitor. Similarly, Nike announced that it was donating merchandise worth $5.5 million to front-line healthcare workers. Other major brands, including Timberland, Reebok and Adidas, donated to Sneakers for Heroes, an initiative to provide comfortable footwear to healthcare workers. From what I’ve seen, many CMOs around the world are taking note of examples like these, and I believe many will be implementing a similar marketing approach in the future.
Agile marketing isn’t just a beneficial strategy now; it is a means of survival. Throughout this year, marketing experts that practiced agility during the pandemic ran successful campaigns. Nike’s “Play Inside, Play for the World” campaign is a fitting example of an agile marketing campaign in which the company leveraged its digital ecosystem to encourage social distancing during the pandemic. I think similarly agile marketing campaigns will become more common next year.
Making Human Connections
Businesses that focus on making authentic connections instead of focusing just on efficiency and speed to market remained successful during the pandemic. The children’s apparel brand Carter’s launched a family-centric campaign called “Stay Home & Make Memories,” starring employees and their children. The ad focused on embracing time with family and friends at home. The brand also pledged to donate $1 million worth of products to families affected by the pandemic. Research has shown that a company’s charitable donations affect over 70% of U.S. consumers’ purchasing decisions. As reported by Harvard Business Review, “emotionally connected customers are more than twice as valuable as highly satisfied customers.” They are more loyal and buy more with less price sensitivity. Such practices are likely to become more common next year.
E-commerce reached new heights this year as people stayed home. Although this growth is circumstantial, e-commerce companies may be able to sustain it by building trust among consumers. Marketing practices that help brands build trust, such as providing customer testimonials, will likely prevail next year as they are known to provide fruitful results.
Strengthening Customer Participation
I think the future of customer participation will go beyond joining discussions, writing online reviews, and suggesting services or products to other consumers. Businesses that strengthen customer engagement will likely be able to run more successful marketing campaigns. This strategy revolves mostly around the timely creation of relevant content; however, businesses can leverage advanced technology to personalize content and further strengthen customer engagement.
Establishing Innovative Partnerships
Although establishing innovative business partnerships is a business strategy, it can still benefit your marketing campaigns. For instance, Ford partnered with 3M, the United Auto Workers, and GE Healthcare to manufacture ventilators for Covid-19 patients. Similarly, Siemens AG opened its Additive Manufacturing Network to support those who want to produce medical equipment. Such practices are typically well received, and I think we’ll see more of these kinds of partnerships next year.
The exponential evolution of the digital landscape due to the pandemic has forced many marketing teams to develop new talent models. Those who have been successful in doing so can differentiate themselves from their competitors. The new talent models I’ve seen revolve around earned and owned media, data insights, and dynamic content creation.
A Lesson For All
Brand loyalty and trust have always been interconnected, but during these uncertain times, their connection is becoming stronger as consumers expect brands to maneuver through hard times efficiently. Executives who fail to make a strategic impact and influence people aren’t likely to gain consumer confidence. This year, many executives and brands that responded positively to the pandemic have successfully increased brand loyalty and sustained or gained consumer trust. The pandemic didn’t only affect consumer confidence, though; it also affected executives’ confidence in their ability to make an impact. However, by aligning yourself with the marketing trends mentioned above, you’ll be better positioned to run successful marketing campaigns.