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Continued change is the only certainty in business. Essentially, change in business is driven by consumer behavior shifts. Every new year comes with new trends that impact purchasing decisions among consumers and how businesses operate. For businesses to continue thriving in the extremely competitive landscape, they must keep an eye on the top trends and adjust accordingly.
The year 2020 has been quite eventful particularly due to the covid-19 pandemic and all the disruptions that have come with the novel virus. Consumer behavior has tremendously changed as consumers try to adjust to the new norm.
In this article, we’ll look at the top trends of 2020 based on the perspectives of 12 speakers in conversation with Gary Vaynerchuk. These trends are expected to drive growth in 2021.
Focus on the customer’s needs
Even though most businesses have been customer-oriented over the years, this trend has gained more traction in 2020 and it’s expected to drive growth in 2021. The most important aspect businesses will take into consideration in 2021 is customers’ safety and needs. In the conversation with Gary Vaynerchuk, Barbara Corcoran, Shark on Shark Tank and founder of the Corcoran Group presents that customer safety will be a paramount trend that will drive growth in 2021. For as long as Covid-19 is still wreaking havoc across the world, customers must feel safe while doing business with you. That’s why businesses will need to encourage their employees and customers to wear face masks, follow social distancing protocols, and generally put in place measures to keep customers and employees safe. According to Corcoran, businesses will need to use various communication channels such as social media to assure customers of their safety while visiting their premises.
From the perspective of Deborah Wahl, Global Chief Marketing Officer, General Motors, businesses must strive to achieve the highest level of customer satisfaction in order to stay ahead.
Personalization of marketing
Marketing has continued to evolve over the years to cater to consumers’ changing demands. In 2020, almost every business has leveraged personalized marketing to retain existing customers and attract new ones. In today’s competitive business landscape, personalized marketing is a necessity for every business looking to thrive. According to Bozoma Saint John, CMO, Netflix, personalization of marketing not only gives you a competitive edge but it’s also something your customers expect through every interaction with your business. Stephanie Buscemi, CMO, Salesforce, also recognizes the importance of personalization for companies. Personalization essentially means giving customers personalized recommendations and offers, customizing content to match the customer’s preferences, and making customers feel that their interests are being taken into account.
Branding is more important than ever
Branding is an important part of a business because of the impact it makes on your company. Stephanie Buscemi, CMO, Salesforce, believes that unique branding is one of the factors that will differentiate a business and bring in more customers. It is critical to building trust at this time when most businesses are struggling to maintain a positive reputation. Typically, consumers are more likely to purchase from a business that presents itself in a professional way. Buscemi presents that branding will help businesses to create a positive impression. In addition, she advises that businesses should continuously reinvent themselves and strive to acquire top talent in addition to branding. Koffi Amoo-Gottfried, VP of Marketing at DoorDash shares the same sentiments.
Apart from branding, novelty will be a key factor that will drive growth in 2021. According to Jon Levy, Behavioral Scientist & Founder of The Influencers presents that most brands tend to copy what other brands are doing and this often leads to loss of authenticity. For businesses to stand out in 2021 and attract customers, they must offer something new.
Demand for comfort foods
In the foods category, Koffi Amoo-Gottfried, VP of marketing, DoorDash states that there has been an increase in demand for comfort foods. These include sausages, chicken sandwiches, chicken fingers, cheese, fries, and carrot cake.
Digitization is a major trend that has shaped the way businesses operate in almost every industry in 2020. This not only applies to marketing but also manufacturing, supply chain, and customer service. With an increasing number of people shopping online and relying on digital platforms for information, going digital isn’t an option but a necessity for businesses going into 2021 and beyond. From the perspective of Michelle Peluso, SVP, Digital Sales and CMO, IBM, digitization is a key factor that will drive business in 2021. Apart from helping businesses to achieve operational efficiency and improving workflow, going digital has enabled businesses to develop better customer relationships and build trust among consumers.
Working from home
With many companies embracing the work-from-home structure in 2020 as a way of preventing the spread of covid-19, this trend is expected to continue into 2021 and even after the pandemic is over. Darrell M. Blocker CIA Operative (retired), COO, MOSAIC notes that remote work will become the new norm even after the pandemic is over. With businesses realizing the advantages of this structure, many brands will incorporate remote working into their culture to save money and give their employees more flexibility.
Wellness and self-care
Esi Eggleston Bracey, Chief Operating Officer, EVP Beauty & Personal Care, Unilever North America presents that wellness and self-care is a key factor that will drive growth in 2020. Good health is key to the success of a business. Going into 2021, entrepreneurs will put more effort into protecting themselves and their employees from Covid-19 and generally staying healthy. This may involve maintaining a healthy weight, eating the right foods, maintaining good hygiene, and mental wellness.
Online shopping will increase
With the lockdowns, working from home, social distancing protocols, and many other measures to curb the spread of Covid-19, online shopping has increased tremendously in 2021 and it will only get bigger in 2021. Heather Malenshek, SVP, Chief Marketing Officer, Land O’Lakes, Inc. notes that the new norm as a result of the pandemic has impacted the way consumers shop.
Generally, the takeaway from Gary Vaynerchuk’s conversation with the 12 speakers is that 2020 has been a challenging year for most businesses. It has been a year in which brands have learnt important lessons that they’ll use to improve their businesses in 2021. According to Suki Sandhu OBE, CEO & Founder, Audeliss and Involve, 2021 should be a year of action for brands. From the conversation, the fundamental factors that will drive growth in 2021 are personalization of marketing, authentic branding, digitization, focus on customer needs, and communication.
Rupert Runewitsch — Founder, VISTA