The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed the way businesses operate, and those who weren’t quick to adapt and embrace creative marketing solutions with innovative operational pivots were quickly sidelined by their competition. Months of customer responses to COVID-19 has enabled us to identify key marketing trends that are working in this ‘new normal’ and what marketing managers should invest their time and resources towards next year.
If you don’t know where to begin, start here – because these five major marketing trends might prove the best bang for your business’s marketing buck in the near future!
A permanent change in consumer behavior post-pandemic.
COVID-19’s effect has been significant to everyone around the world and consumer behaviour has been changed and resets, at least to a degree. In 2021, successful marketers and brands will have to focus on value-based pricing and messaging and incorporate that into their strategy. With price sensitivity at its peak, consumers are more willing to try and test out alternative options. In addition to this, consumers want to be able to connect with brands directly to ask questions to inform their purchasing decision. Instant communications between brand and consumer have been growing exponentially over the years but have definitely sped up in response to the pandemic. This is evident by Whatsapp’s efforts in introducing business features on their platform and in Southeast Asia, several businesses from SME’s to large corporations have used LINE to connect and engage more personally with their audiences.
Brands focusing on social and environmental responsibility will thrive.
The racial inequality protests in 2020 inspired us to change our own behaviour and outlook and advise our clients on content strategy. We predict brands will make significant efforts to clean up business practices and adjust messaging to appeal to enlightened consumers who care deeply about a company’s purpose and commitment to social and environmental sustainability.
Ethical businesses that put an emphasis towards a cause than making more money will be more successful in the long term, so we expect to see many businesses to join in the movement in 2021.
Digitization & diversification continues.
Worldwide ad and media budgets have been cut significantly earlier this year when the outbreak was at its peak, however, a rebound is anticipated for 2021 with forecasts indicating that ad spend will recover by 5.8% globally. Brands will no doubt continue to move their advertising and marketing spends from traditional media into the digital sphere. Brands in some parts of the world may still be wary of losses as the second wave of the pandemic takes hold so we can expect to see large portions of media buy budgets go toward influencer marketing, where brands can get a lot of bang for their buck, compared to native ads on social media.
Media buying has become incredibly accessible. Editing tools such as Canva and open-source software programs have made it incredibly easy for anyone looking to run a creative campaign on their own, without oversight or advice from PR agencies. However, the smartest brands will choose to keep agencies and professionals in the mix in order to not compromise on quality. Likewise, agencies will need to embrace some brand’s desires to proceed with “DIY” campaigns and offer solutions that mix traditional management with more hands-off, advisory approaches.
Coronavirus has forced brands to adopt digital channels for product and service delivery as well as marketing. “Digital transformation” has since become a popular buzzword and companies of all sizes are investing heavily in the migration to digital platforms, including e-commerce, chatbots, email, apps, artificial intelligence, predictive analytics, SEO, omnichannel marketing, and virtual reality. Brands that embrace these evolving technologies to create a more seamless customer experience will be in a very strong position post-pandemic.
Influencer marketing will cement its position as a vital channel for consumer brands
Brands have historically used influencers to present authentic unbiased advertising to appeal to their audiences. The pandemic has amplified the impact influencers have on the purchase of products, due to a limited ability to shop in person at stores.
Social media use dramatically increased during the pandemic and it is predicted that there are no signs of this slowing down as we enter 2021. Our research and studies based in Southeast East Asia have found that an average of 60% of people reported that they purchased a product online after seeing it used by an influencer on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram or Twitter. As a result, there is an opportunity for brands to utilize social media influencers, especially niche and micro-influencers more now than ever.
TikTok also experienced explosive growth, surpassing Snapchat in usage with Generation Z, and brands must take notice and act quickly. Influencers can speak on a more personal level and give their honest opinion that resonates more with their followers compared to normal brand advertising.
Platforms will continue to experiment with new features and content formats.
It’s true that every technology or platform has its moment until something else comes along. We’ve seen this in the past with Snapchat Stories and how Instagram shifted a large number of active users to their own platform by introducing the feature. Some have more ‘staying power’ than others, but there’s almost always a “next best thing” waiting to come out. Right now, we’re experiencing a renaissance of social platforms and apps, particularly as users seek out new and engaging ways to connect virtually.
In 2021, brands and marketers must pay attention to how YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram adapt by adding new features to compete for TikTok’s market share with new, short video offerings. Brands and creators must plan and prepare content that can easily be adapted, trimmed, twisted and cropped to fit new formats that may be introduced.
The team at Vero across Southeast Asia believe that 2021 will be full of optimism, with a focus on brand recovery and a core focus on ad spend performance across all channels, empowered by improved tracking and analytics. With a permanent change in consumer behaviour, 2021 will be the year where brands will see themselves transitioning, if not already, to a digital-first business model, future-proofing themselves from any uncertainties.
By: Manit Sethi working at Vero PR
Vero PR is an official member of the GlobalCom PR Network.