With an exceptionally challenging year behind and a very uncertain one ahead, marketers and strategists must look carefully on how they can differentiate and communicate their brand in the future. Here are the main collected trends we identify to become essential for companies in order to define their strategy.
1. The ability to pivot
2020 was the year for experimentation. In the face of new mindsets and customer behaviors many brands realized how fast they can react and adapt strategies and tactics. Thriving brands now use these lessons powerfully and will likely maintain lots of practices in the future. Whichever obstacles may come, the brands with the highest ability to adapt, change and innovate will triumph.
2. Appreciation inside-out
Customers see through inauthentic actions. They won’t trust the external promise of a brand, if they aren’t living it internally. Successful companies therefore need to invest from the inside-out. Treating employees as individuals and with appreciation and priority is an imperative to build authentic and personalized consumer relationships.
3. Pursue purpose
There is a remarkable increase in a search for meaning in life and work, for confidence and inspiration. We think differently about a brand when it provides a social higher purpose. 2021 will be a transition year on the interconnection between brands and sustainability, from inclusiveness to climate change. Foresighted CMOs will reset a clear brand purpose and implement it in measurable sustainability goals.
4. Humanity at the center
While traditional strategies are increasingly losing traction, gaining the trust and loyalty of customers has become more challenging than ever. The impact of the last year has demonstrated that brands need to lead with empathy and deliver it with action in order to win the hearts and wallets of customers and colleagues. In 2021, the most essential brands will employ empathy and humanity at every touchpoint in their customer journey.
5. Honesty & trust
With the pandemic, racial injustice and surrounding events, 2020 made vivid the importance of honesty. Brands will have a significant role to fulfill by creating conversations that build trust. When brands communicate with a clear purpose, align it with the ambitions of their customers and then act on it accordingly, they demonstrate the importance of following through on a promise and gain credibility.
6. Digital access essential as air
With the pandemic, digital interactions were not any more just about entertainment and joy, but became central to almost every interaction we had, from saving businesses to fostering relationships. The way we utilize technology has shifted from entertaining to operational devices, from nice-to-haves to necessities. Brands that learnt from this transformation will need to make technology as accessible as air.
With a huge shift to digital 2020 has fully altered how we work and play. And although lots of these changes will remain, people will increasingly seek for human interaction, but: customers are going to be more selective in how they spend their time and money and demand simple experiences, that seamlessly integrate digital and physical touchpoints.
8. Re-evaluating value
Our needs have changed. We’ve learned to critically evaluate where we spend our attention, money and time. Emotional branding is what makes a business stand out. People don’t buy just products, but great experiences, emotions, and a story that resonates. In the future brands need to clearly communicate their unique value proposition (as opposed to the unique selling proposition) that resonates with the people they aim to reach.
9. Product is hero
No matter how great your stories, causes, and values are: when your product falls short of expectations, consumers choose a better option without a blink of an eye! A high-quality product experience is what matters the most to the people who consume it. Prioritizing the consumer experience and promoting a business with futuristic or high-quality branding is key for the success of a brand.
10. The Gen Z benchmark
Gen Y and Gen Z are soon to represent the highest purchasing power. Although Gen Y remains the largest population, Gen Z is the most likely to cancel or boycott a brand for good due to broken or unmatched parameters. A plausible reason to carefully observe their values and implement these into the brand strategy accordingly.