2020 undoubtedly reshaped many elements of the marketing landscape. Most notably, eCommerce sales went through the roof, people spent a lot more time on social media and video conferencing became the norm. This has all contributed towards a major shift in the way brands connect with their consumers.

As we turn a corner into 2021, what marketing trends will successfully deliver?

  1. Live Streams & Influencer Content

Staying at home has meant an uptake in the number of people tuning into live-streams, whether it was a branded live-stream, a live video from their favourite celebrity, or an online workshop.

On Facebook, live viewings can spike by 50% during lockdown periods, while viewings on Instagram have surged to 70%. TikTok’s upward trajectory is also set to play out in 2021.

Human-drive content like influencer live-streams can create trust and really tap into the ‘in-the-moment’ connection that consumers crave during lockdown periods

Amazon Live really got going during the pandemic. Influencers took to the platform to promote their favourite products during live events. What’s more, the livestreams were stoppable which meant viewers could make purchases while they were watching.

2. More goodwill and purpose-driven missions from brands

Transparency will be key.

It is impossible for consumers to connect with brands that they see as ‘shady’ or insincere. Why would they want to invest in something that they can’t trust or don’t believe in? This is why connection will be pivotal for brands that want to remain trusted sources in 2021.

Now more than ever, brands are having to dig deep to find out how to flourish in turbulent times. We’re no strangers to seeing brands doing good things, but there will be an even bigger emphasis on this during the course of the year.

We’ll see more brands running campaigns like Hilton’s #HotelsForHeroes, where they gave away free rooms to medical workers, or Chanel’s contribution to the pandemic where they tasked their seamstresses with making face masks.

  1. UGC to enhance the customer experience

Customer experience has never been more important.

Consumers crave enjoyable experiences with brands that are easy and memorable. They want proof before they buy and they want to be reassured – after all, no one wants to make the wrong decision.

User-generated content (UGC) ticks all the boxes when it comes to connective content:

  • It builds and strengthens communities
  • It’s relatable and uplifting
  • It enables brands to meet customers where they’re already hanging out
  • It helps brands generate tons more content against a backdrop of stay-at-home orders and restrictive measures

UGC has long been an effective way for brands to forge relationships with their customers and provide social proof, and this will be a common theme in 2021 as well.

  1. An emphasis on sustainability 

81% of consumers strongly feel that companies should help improve the environment.

It’s a number that’s not that surprising. Over the past couple of years we’ve seen a shift in brands moving towards a more sustainable future, whether it’s through the materials they use, the packaging, their systems, or something else.

The hunt for a greener planet continues, and consumers are actively seeking out brands that are purpose-driven and conscious about the environment. As the world remains a fragile place, it will be key for brands to reiterate their sustainability in 2021.

  1. Inclusivity  

Inclusivity also became a bigger focus in 2020, with the Black Lives Matter movement highlighting endemic issues that linger within various elements of society.

A study be Accenture  shows that the cultural shift towards inclusivity is also impacting purchase behavior, with 41% of shoppers shifting away from retailers which don’t reflect their views on identity and diversity – and 29% are willing to switch brands completely if they don’t show enough diversity.

Brands that are seen to be non-inclusive, or who don’t appear to be a part of the inclusivity conversation, will likely see impacts in 2021. On the flipside, brands which openly showcase their involvement in inclusive causes, will reap the benefits and drive deeper connections with their buyers.

  1. Increase in voice and visual search

An increasing number of consumers are searching via voice-activated tools like Alexa. Perhaps that’s due to people have been stuck at home, with limited opportunities for conversation, or perhaps it’s simply because this type of technology is more readily available.

But it’s not just voice search that will prevail in 2021 – we can also expect other creative search methods to rise to the top, like visual search.

Tools like Google Lens enable consumers can search for whatever they can see. This means marketers will need to focus even more on image alt-text and sitemaps for images. Over the next year, visuals will become increasingly important in the SEO game.

  1. Easy-to-consume content

2020 also saw people leaning on easy-to-consume content – things like podcasts that can be consumed on-the-go or newsletters that land directly in subscriber’s inboxes.

Convenient and readily-available content like podcasts and newsletters will help brands connect more deeply with customers and provide a more intimate way to stay in touch.