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2021 Global Marketing Trends to Watch


Welcome to the Dove Direct Print and Marketing Blog. Today's post, "2021 Global Marketing Trends to Watch," explores snippets from a new marketing forecast for 2021 prepared by Deloitte that contains a bevy of information and forecasts seen through the lens of consumers and executives who are responding to a pandemic induced environment.  There are two surveys of note; The Global Marketing Trends Consumer Pulse Survey and The Global Marketing Trends C-Suite Survey.  We will focus on those trends that stand out for brevity's sake and may be of significant consequence in 2021.  Although we have yet to experience Thanksgiving, we contend now is an excellent time to wrap up 1H2021 marketing strategy initiatives.  If pandemics' history is any barometer, consumer behavior will move in new directions under the weight of a crisis.  To that end, we are just at the beginning stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Brands should watch closely as consumer behavior is rapidly adjusting to the state of interactions and communications.

Quote of the Day: "Without equity, pandemic battles will fail.  Viruses will simply recirculate, and perhaps undergo mutations or changes that render vaccines useless, passing through the unprotected populations of the planet." – Laurie Garrett, American Science Journalist

Crises Produce Innovation

We will get a handle on COVID-19 as the new administration reimagines a COVID-19 Task Force, led by the best epidemiologists, vaccine specialists, and health communications experts on the planet.  Throughout history, every crisis was responsible for creating different avenues to conquer the situation at hand.  The Vietnam War is widely thought of as the "First Televised War," and to that end, historians credited that war as being an influencer in the rise of television ownership and viewing numbers.  The 1918 pandemic, commonly referred to as the Spanish Flu that killed millions, influenced the increase in telephone communications.  That's because the number of calls the live operators had to manage became nearly impossible for them to deliver timely connections.

We are now at another inflection point that forces the world to reimagine how to interact, communicate, and continue to have some social interaction on a safe basis.  More importantly, we are rethinking how we shop for groceries, get medical care for check-ups, dental visits, and other non-pandemic related healthcare issues with safety at the helm.  In addition, the country is undergoing a reckoning brought about by the unveiling of systemic racism leading to the introspection of the human condition.  That said, let's explore the concept of attaining a better understanding of consumers, how brands respond to the pandemic, and the emerging trends related to our collective response.

Brand Help Versus Self Interest

We are all very aware of the consequences of shutting down the economy without first addressing the pandemic.  We also understand that some parts of the population are resistant to following medical professional guidelines.  Consequently, people are looking to brands that they trust for helpful advice to navigate in a pandemic environment.

As a result, brands such as Zoom, online deliveries, and grocers have come to the fore.  We see brands that are adapting to serve their customers better while trying to operate profitably, all in support of a return to a robust economy.  Consumers' awareness of brands that help first and sell second are particularly keen at this time.  What the consumer sees during this pandemic continues to drive their affection for the brand.  Deloitte provides three data points in their report that measures this sentiment:

  • More than 70% agreed they valued digital solutions that deepened their connection with other people, and 63% believe they will rely on digital technologies more than they did before the pandemic even well after it subsides.
  • Fifty-eight percent of respondents could recall at least one brand that quickly pivoted to better respond to their needs, and 82% said this led to them doing more business with the brand.
  • Conversely, more than 25% of those who noticed brands acting in their self-interest walked away from those brands.

We also contend that while the value of digital solutions is rising and highly sought after, from a brand perspective, it becomes clear that to improve digital response rates, marketers should use direct mail marketing.  This is because print is the most trustworthy of all mediums and boosts consumer engagement as consumers seek reliable marketing sources.

More Trends for Consideration

Quite frankly, we may be in a holistic, spiritual upheaval as predicted in the book, "China Megatrends: The 8 Pillars of a New Society," by Naisbitt and Aberdene.  According to the Deloitte report, "Consumers will seek to break out of our often defensive mindsets to more holistically — and authentically — meet human needs."  These are the trends that will help brands successfully achieve a new mindset:

Purpose: "Flourishing brands will be those that know why they exist and who they are built to serve.  Companies which know "why" they serve their stakeholders are uniquely positioned to navigate unprecedented change."

: "Successful marketers will be those who invest in agile marketing strategies.  The pandemic-triggered recession is not one that will reward retrenchment over imagination and innovation."

Human connections
: "Making authentic connections is now more important than speed-to-market or efficiency.  It's the choice between taking a cheaper flight or a safer one; buying clothing with the fastest delivery or from the supplier with the most ethically designed supply chain."

: "Trust arises when what's promised is what's delivered.  Messaging should be transparent, and delivering on those messages should be consistent and reliable.  Also, think about shifting your focus from demographics to values."

: "Customer engagement at a deeper level, going beyond passive responses to activities like writing online reviews, giving advice to fellow customers, joining conversations (whether with the brand directly or on social media), and creating content relevant to the brand."

: "This trend recognizes the power of innovative business partnerships.  As an example, ExxonMobil partnered with a global tech company and a local car care brand to create a digitally enabled car maintenance experience.  A data platform created through the ecosystem enables customers to receive maintenance recommendations and make online reservations to have cars serviced; at the same time, it enables ExxonMobil to not only fuel vehicles but also ensure they are running safely and effectively."

Talent transformation
: "Marketing teams need to develop new talent models to differentiate themselves in a rapidly evolving digital environment.  Marketers can develop a core team comprising roles that best reflect their competitive advantage.  Traditionally, these roles include those responsible for data insights, dynamic content creation, and owned and earned media.  And don't overlook the flexibility created by the gig economy."

Brand Loyalty and Trust

Brand marketers have always placed a high priority on the development of brand-loyal customers.  Brand loyal customers, tend to support brands through good and bad times.  However, that support only lasts as long as the consumer can trust the brand.  Now the brand trust element is evolving into an interdependent fusion of trust and brand loyalty, of which the brand loyalty equates trustworthiness.

Brand loyalty and trustworthiness depend on personalized communications coupled with consumers' ability to communicate directly with the brand.  That's not exactly new, but it has become a pivotal factor for consumers under the strain of a pandemic.  Therefore, given the mounting digital considerations, direct mail marketing remains an integral part of the marketing universe for personalized communications.  Equally important, the direct channel helps to break through the digital world, whether via email marketing, social media marketing, and other online marketing mediums, websites included.

Deloitte states, "These trends do not purport to predict what the future holds, but they may offer something more pressing: a path forward to help your customers, workforce, and society when, collectively, we need it the most."

The Net-Net

Watch these 2021 global marketing trends, especially for the short term, in preparation for 1H21. We contend it makes good sense to understand them now and contemplate how you might apply them to your ecosystem.  Brands that can execute holistic, caring, and trustworthy attributes in the marketing mix will undoubtedly reap better rewards.

We encourage everyone to abide by professional medical recommendations, avoid large crowds, practice social distancing, wash your hands, and wear a mask.  Thanks for taking a few moments to read 2021 Global Marketing Trends to Watch!

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Trends Driving eCommerce in 2021

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