5 Marketing Trends To Plan For In 2021

12.29.2020 Articles , Expert Insights
By Melissa Burke, Director of Marketing

To view this content in live video format see our Hype Hour live stream below, otherwise read on for the 5 trends!

If necessity is the mother of invention, then 2020 might be the cause of a record year for innovation and digital transformation. With all the change that 2020 has created, it has taught us to do things differently, including how we shop. We’ve seen the need for our marketing strategies to shift course in 2020. So, what does this mean going into 2021? The Marketing team at BDS has summed up 5 themes that we’re calling “The 5 C’s for 2021”: Connection, Content, Communication, Community and Customer Experience.

Brands that figure out how to pull all 5 of these levers into their marketing strategy, and activate them flawlessly, will win the post-COVID consumer–who will be seeking a humanized, hyper-local, interconnected buying experience.

No alt text provided for this image

CONNECTION: Content was king, then video was king, dare we now say that Connection is the new king of the marketing castle? You will continue to see a need for human Connection, as life won’t be going back to normal quite yet. If your brand isn’t able to connect with shoppers in person, then you need to build authentic human connections with your buyers, whether it’s on your e-commerce site, in a virtual bright shop, or with virtual sales staff. When, where, and how you meet and greet your audience is changing. We’re entering an age of hyper-connectivity, where all the gears need to work together so that your customer can not only find you as a brand, but build a stronger connection with your brand – over a variety of different touchpoints: online, at pick up, and in store to name a few. This may mean that you should invest in a variety of channels and spread out your budget differently than you have in the past.

No alt text provided for this image

CONTENT: If Content used to be king, then what is its role in the buyer journey for 2021? Well, your content now needs to support the human connection. We used to create content for reasons like awareness, impressions and SEO value. Now your #1 priority of content should be to create a human connection. For example, brands will have to come to market with strong e-commerce sites, that have longer product descriptions, more product photography, video content, unboxings, user stories, and answers to customers questions – speeding them up on their digital transformation. Content is now a requirement of the buyer journey. Today’s consumers are “well-advised,” “right here” and “right now,” with Google having introduced us to the term “micro-moments” to describe consumers’ expectation of an immediate answer in the moments they want to know, go, do, or buy. Within content, we’re seeing buzz words trending like “content experience” and “immersive” and “personalized” continue into 2021. Content needs to support the new expectation for immediate exploration and gratification.

No alt text provided for this image

COMMUNICATION: For Communication, being authentic and quick to engage with your audience will be key. We already know that being authentic is essential for a brand’s voice, however 2020 took that to a whole new level. Your message as a brand needs to feel authentic and human. Your audience can sniff a fake authentic message a hundred miles away. But we already knew that, and 2020 took this to a whole new level. If you say the wrong thing, or don’t say anything at all – this could make or break your brand. We saw examples of this over and over on social media this year.

Speed and quality of communication can also increase your brand fans. One example that I saw recently on social media was with Chipotle. A customer tagged Chipotle on social media because he wanted a burrito for dinner, but his wife wanted him to make salmon that they already had in the fridge. Chipotle quickly responded to his post inventing something like “Sarah’s National Burrito Day.” The guy showed his wife the social media post and he got his burrito for dinner!

No alt text provided for this image

COMMUNITY: COVID has brought people a heightened need for community. Being part of a community makes us feel connected, and we’ve lost that this past year. During lock downs earlier this year, we were urged to support local restaurants with takeout orders. And we’re seeing this trend continue during the holiday shopping season with shoppers looking to buy gifts locally to support small businesses. In 2021, brands will need to seek out local, personalized tactics that are relevant to your audience in order to keep your consumer engaged. Even if you are a large, global company, hyper-localized tactics will be key to maintaining a sense of community among your loyal fans. Though big brands are being snubbed for faring well during the pandemic while smaller companies are suffering, let’s not forget that the big companies are employing people in our own local communities as well.

No alt text provided for this image

CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE: We’re going to see a huge shift in customer expectations in 2021 based on all the innovations and shopping enhancements that we’ve experienced this year. A great customer experience is now expected virtually, remotely, online – not just in person. The Target BOPIS experience is remarkably seamless, I just pull up and within minutes a friendly Target associate is at my car with my order, and all I have to do is show them a code on my phone through my window and they load my trunk for me – amazing! How about my Instacart shopper – who messaged me that my rosé was out of stock at Costco and tried to upsell me on a more expensive one?! This same Instacart shopper also messaged me that Costco was unloading a new pallet of toilet paper and could he grab me one? This was one smart shopper turned sommelier and salesman! I already had plenty of TP but I was amazed that my shopper was working to increase my shopping cart in real time.

I know 2020 has changed my shopping expectations, and I won’t want to be going back to all my old ways, how about you?