The significant shifts in consumer behaviour and spending, and sudden acceleration in technology adoption have paved the way for new trends in the upcoming year
By Manish Sinha
“Getting a whopper is always the best, but ordering a Big Mac is also not such a bad thing.” This is the conclusion of a social media post from the United Kingdom arm of Burger King asking its customers to order from McDonalds, its stern rival. The social media post not only won millions of hearts, but also indicated how the marketing landscape has transformed in the last few months. Instead of engaging with “banterism” with their competitions, the brands were more frequently seen extending a helping hand to the competition or collaborating with them to remain relatively unscathed during the pandemic.
The times have been tough for marketers who have had to adapt their strategies on the go due to the disruption caused by the pandemic. The significant shifts in consumer behaviour and spending, and sudden acceleration in technology adoption have paved the way for new trends in the upcoming year.
More humane than before
Burger King’s social media post is a perfect example of how brands have somehow lowered their guards and connected with consumers, partners and competition at a personal, more humane level. That face-to-face value that brands gained in the last few years has been replaced by personalised marketing strategies that intend to create more authentic human connections.
More agile than before
Last year taught companies that agile methodology should be at the heart of every business strategy, let alone marketing. According to the 3rd State of Agile Marketing Report, agile marketing adoption went up to 42% last year as marketers shunned the traditional models. Imagination and innovation will be in focus as businesses adapt to different situations on the go. KPIs will get regularly updated and aligned. An agile marketing strategy will also pave the way for a collaboration and communication-driven work environment that is more efficient and adaptable.
More technology focussed than before
With customer behaviour changing due to larger digital adoption, the marketers will be looking to shift their customer engagement experiences to a “Pull’ model by narrowing the scope of their data. Technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Augmented and Virtual Reality will do exactly that and help them focus on things that consumers are actually engaging with. AI will continue to personalise marketing by more specific targeting and enhance SEO and content marketing strategies by introducing voice search capabilities. AR/VR, on the other hand, will have wider acceptance across marketing teams for enhancing the customer experiences.
More socially advocate than before
A Deloitte survey indicates that 79% of the consumers were able to recall instances where brands positively responded to the COVID-19 outbreak and extended helping hands to their community. This shows that brands that are more socially advocate and committed to their purpose will matter more to their customers. The brands will look to align with their purpose and indulge in community marketing with more vigour than before.
More meaningful and deep customer interactions than before
While customer engagement strategies have been evolving over the years, the pandemic accelerated this trend and highlighted the need of customer empowerment. 2021 will see customers evolving from passive listeners to active participants in influencing a brand’s strategy. This could also be a golden opportunity for brands to take the customer engagement to deeper levels and create content that is more relevant to them.
More value-driven content than before
Content will play a more crucial role in the buyer’s journey this year. Brands will create more value-driven content that understands the needs of the customer better. Artificial Intelligence will transform the way content creators go about their work by providing them relevant data, keywords, references and sourcing info on the go.
More real than before
This year, real stories will ring stronger than celebrities. People are tired of the made-up clinical perfection and want real people telling real stories. Elitism will be shown the door and marketers will have to adapt their strategies accordingly.
More talent transformation than before
With the evolution of digital landscape and adoption of hybrid workplace models, we will see talent overhaul across marketing teams. New talent models revolving around emerging technologies, data insights and dynamic content creation will emerge.
More careful budget allocation than before
The impact of the pandemic on the marketing budgets has been quite significant. The budget allocation for traditional marketing activities such as tele sales will be cut to the bone while social media, data analytics and other digital marketing strategies will fare far better. More budget will also be moved to retention strategies in the coming years while new acquisition strategies will continue to have a larger pie.
While the last year was all about experiencing constant change and evolution for the businesses, this year would be about capitalizing on those changes and creating a niche for themselves. All they need is their marketers to find more creative ways to engage with customers through personalized outreach.
The author is CMO of Sterlite Technologies Limited