2021 marketing predictions: trends, tips, and advice
Written by Jack Terry
If you’re thinking that try to make predictions for marketing after the year we’ve had is a little ambitious, you’d be right. We saw how much things could change in so little time.
However, whilst we’ve been faced with challenges and change like never before, it’s still important to take a step back and review the current climate and consider what might come next.
If anything, 2020 gave us a new perspective, which in turn has meant that brands have been able rethink and reshape their strategies – with short term pivots becoming longer team routes for business.
At Eulogy, we’ve spoken to leads across the team to get their take on what the coming year will bring in the world of marketing.
Marketing and comms predictions for 2021:
Tech brands will focus on building reputations
James Steward, Director, Technology
If there’s one thing the tech industry, particularly Big Tech, has learned of late, it’s the importance of reputation. For years it’s faced criticism from policy makers over its ever-tightening grip on our rights and our data.
2020 was a gamechanger. As tech became a lifeline for so many, it was able to finally demonstrate its true value, and change the narrative around what tech meant, and what it could for us.
Those tech companies that have become inherent lifelines, from communications to e-commerce platforms, are acutely aware of their new responsibility.
2021 is the year to build on this new paradigm – a huge opportunity to continue to the put its strength to good use and further cement its relevance and reputation amongst the public, businesses, and society as a whole.
Meanwhile, as the repercussions of the pandemic continue to rip through our lives, another looming catastrophe grows ever stronger – the climate crisis.
With the Government’s pledge to introduce a new green industrial revolution and “build back greener”, technology players in this field have a unique chance to demonstrate the profound value of their solutions – in tackling the biggest threat to humanity and helping to get our beleaguered economy back on track.
With tech one of the only real solutions to this crisis, the industry becomes increasingly more fundamental by the day.
This opportunity must not be squandered. 2021 is the year to get your message right and be heard for how you’re making a real impact on the world.
Content Marketing should focus on content experiences
Richard Ware, Director & Content Lead
Arguably, the role of content has become more value-focused for brands and businesses over the last year, and this will continue. Integrating with search strategies, working harder along the purchase funnel, and helping audiences navigate uncertainty will only grow in importance.
But also, brands should remember content should be giving us joy too. 2020 pressed fast-forward on established trends in digital content, and we will see even more growth across video, audio, online editorial, and virtual experiences.
But what interests me most is how content will play a crucial role in helping us to re-connect. Remember people? In person? What a concept!
We’ve had a year of doom scrolling, hours lost to TikTok, and widespread Zoom fatigue.
While we’ve been avidly gorging on screen-based content, we’ve been missing out on seeing family and friends, going to festivals and on holiday, experiencing culture. As health risks abate and our collective confidence grows, content strategies will take us away from our screens, and out into the real world again. These content experiences should give us the assurance, information and inspiration needed to take the first steps outside again.
Whether virtual or physical, content in 2021 will ultimately need to be effective. It will need to be valuable and relevant to the audience, with the right channel for delivery, and the tone, visual style, and format to make it worth engaging with. It will need to drive action, and the right action, to justify investment.
Brands will continue to innovate on social
Sara Beirne, Director, Media Insights and Planning
Businesses in 2020 had no choice but to adapt to operate online and incorporate e-commerce and social models, which sped up digital transformation for many sectors.
Since many e-commerce platforms moved to provide smaller businesses with affordable ways to move online, this could diversify consumer choice in the longer term.
It has however also highlighted the issue of discoverability, as many brands are relying on the same big tech platforms in terms of search and social to access online customers.
This offers an opportunity for new platforms and channels providing diversity in digital marketing and we may also see brands continue to innovate ways to reach customers in an increasingly crowded space.
Consumer communications will focus on wellness
Beth Hunt, Account Director, Consumer
No one has been untouched by the events of 2020. It’s been a year (and a bit) of lockdowns, separation from loved ones, isolation, and stress. Top that off with soaring unemployment, sector challenges, a stretched NHS, and uncertainty about what the future holds, you can understand why mental health is near the top of the news agenda for publications.
Whilst we enter 2021 with optimism about the future, the need for support for consumers’ mental wellbeing is immediate, and brands will step up to help address this.
We’re likely to see brands increasingly establishing partnerships with charities, funding for more mental health services, and creating moments for consumers that offer an escape from the stress of everyday life, whilst enabling them to reconnect to the world around them.
At the same time, brands will need to address the very real issues consumers face, to help create more meaningful connections with their names and products. 2021 is the year of the customer and putting their needs first. Demonstrating authenticity, purpose, and accountability has never been so important for brands that want to thrive.
Influencer marketing will focus on authentic collaborations
Ed Tan, Account Manager, and Influencer
Influencer marketing’s been through a lot in the past year with a massive push on diversity across all industries, and a continuing drive for ‘authenticity’ in imagery and captions. As with many things that are propelled via social, we often see these swing rapidly from one end of the spectrum to the other.
Don’t get me wrong, diversity and authenticity will remain hugely important for this year and for years to come, but the way in which it’s approached and shown on our feeds will become more thoughtful, targeted, and impactful as brands grapple with how best to approach this.
Added to this, micro-influencers have come to the fore throughout lockdown, seeking out lesser-known brand collaborations as a basis for quality content.
2021 will be an interesting time to see if again here, brands blindly engage with them in an attempt to be ‘first in’ or will create genuinely interesting campaigns and relationships that will lead to great content.
Creative campaigns will go local
Kevan Barber, Creative Lead
We’re all desperate to get out there and explore further afield once again, but for many of us lockdowns have given us an appreciation of our localities.
Already we’ve seen initiatives such as My City Unlocked by Hyundai and hyperlocal Nike Unite shops, including one in Scotland’s East Kilbride, with local culture and preferences influencing everything from store design to products stocked and local sponsorship programmes.
This can seem daunting, how can a brand with its HQ and team in London really engage a community in a place like Wigan, Doncaster, or East Kilbride? On the one hand the technology is there, we have ways of targeting specific locations from globally relevant and easily consumable platforms.
However, this must be combined with the local know how and that has to come through collaboration and knowing when a task needs local insight and influence. Expect to see brands get it right and wrong in 2021. The most successful brands being those that execute campaigns with local not only at the core of the idea, but the execution of it too.
AI will start working in design
Lee Johnston, Designer
My prediction for design trends will be – that we won’t make them, but AI algorithms will. I’ve been harking on about the succession of human made content to perfectly indistinguishable AI made content since 2011 when I wrote my dissertation on how to take over a town using graphic design and the technology that is evolving in the sector.
Software is making people more and more able to do things that only very highly skilled people could do five years ago, in a simple button click and anyone can change the sky or cut-out a person from a photo perfectly and put them into a TikTok filter.
I believe graphic design will boil down to the layout (if that) and idea of a project more than actual production. For future projects, the design portion of a project will be given to a new team, none of whom are trained in design, but more in output and production, short turn around projects on the cheap.
One thing is for certain, if this year is anything like the last, we’ll see plenty of change, innovation, and gambles in marketing and comms in the months ahead.
Read more of our predictions for creativity in 2021 here.