Facing Into The Future
Uncertainty is the overriding theme for 2021.
As we enter the period of painful recovery from the pandemic, some will benefit, others will struggle. For some consumers these trends will be true, others not. The only way to gain certainty is to stay close to your consumers with insightful ethnology and focused research.
In the meantime, stay close by reading our 2021 trends round up…
# Nine Trends To Inspire Innovation Strategy
# 1 Greater Good
To slow the spread of CV19 we have all taken altruistic actions. From wearing a mask to shopping for neighbours, consumers have changed their behaviour, motivated by a wider responsibility and a renewed sense of collective society.
We have seen a fresh take on charity, with consumers wanting to exercise control over what and how they give. Choose Love is a new type of shop, selling real products for refugees, it sells items like baby essentials and hot meals, and services like medical care and LGBTQ+ support.
Implications: Brands that capture this new zeitgeist are placed to do well. However, this commitment to the greater good must be ingrained in culture and behaviour or you risk being called out for purpose-washing!
# 2 Protectionism and Cocooning
In times of uncertainty consumers need to feel safe and in control, this has created a ‘back to basics’ mentality. Consumers are focusing on the things that matter with a move away from frivolous luxuries to brands and products that remind them of simpler times.
Brands and retailers that can demonstrate their reliability and value will do well. Premier Foods have seen an upsurge in sales as consumers seek comfort in traditional favourites such as Ambrosia and Mr Kiplings.
Implications: How can your brand deliver values of authenticity, reliability and comfort?
# 3 Inclusivity is the New Exclusivity
From climate change to Black Lives Matter, there’s a lot going on in the world. As spending power shifts to Gen Z expect increasing demand for brands that display inclusivity, opportunities for all and democratisation.
Brands are taking note – PepsiCo has announced that the Aunt Jemima image will be retired by year’s end. Mars announced “We’ve listened, we’ve learned and we’re changing.” From 2021, ‘Uncle Ben’s’ will become ‘Ben’s Original’, with the promise of more equitable imagery.
Implications: With the rise in salience of social issues among the new generation, corporate care and a focus on values is important in engaging consumers
# 4 Virtual Life is Here to Stay
We may be fed up of Zoom, Teams and Skype but the changes in our ways of working and social life may be here to stay for good. Business travel will no longer been seen as worth the time, monetary or environmental cost.
Real life entertainment experiences may be replaced by more accessible virtual ones, like the launch of National Theatre at Home and WarnerMedia’s hugely disruptive HBO Max initiative. As we all become more used to the technologies, they will need to adapt to meet our evolving needs.
Implications: How does your product operate in a world where the ‘new going out’ is ‘staying in’ and access to events is democratised but potentially devalued.
# 5 Experiential Retailing is the New Norm
Driven by declining store sales and the digital revolution fuelled by the pandemic, the retail industry is going through a transformation. The explosive growth of TikTok, the rise of influencers, and the need for brands to distinguish themselves online will converge in the world of “shopstreaming”.
Already popular in China, shopstreaming is a new phenomenon but growing fast. Livestream shows are a combination of several current tech trends; streaming, influencers, social, and commerce.
Implications: Live streaming will be a new battleground and will bring community and entertainment to shopping. Brands must rethink strategies and reinvent to attract and retain the latest generation.
# 6 Voice Becomes More Useful!
No longer limited to in-home, cars will feature voice systems that can pre-order your dinner from the local convenience store or takeaway. As voice integrates with home appliances and out of home services expect more no-touch technologies and more consumer-friendly interfaces.
BMW has already integrated Amazon’s Alexa into their cars and Visa provides its partners with Visa Token Service, an in-car digital wallet, which makes payments simple and secure.
Implications: How do companies ensure that their brands are Alexa’s top recommendation?
# 7 Science as Saviour
The unprecedented speed of scientific advancement on testing, treating and vaccinating against CV19 mean consumers will demand more of science, and faster. Expect an increasing focus on prevention as well as cure. Hygiene, wellbeing, immunity and personalisation will all be top of consumers’ agendas.
YoSushi & DNAfit have joined forces to help diners choose dishes based on DNA. Apps like the Zoe personalised nutrition app are sure to be popular when launched in early 2021.
Implications: Harnessing science to offer ways to stay well will be a key feature as the pandemic is brought under control. Brands need to adapt to fit into this new world of wellbeing and prevention.
# 8 It’s All About The Experience
A brand is not simply about the products it sells, it is about the experience it creates for consumers. Brand experiences shouldn’t just communicate with consumers they should connect them to the brand in a more meaningful way.
Peloton announced a partnership with cultural phenomenon Beyoncé, the artist will help curate classes for the company’s subscription service, starting with a series of Homecoming-themed classes in honor of historically Black colleges and universities.
Implications How can you create meaningful brand experiences that forge connections with your consumers?
# 9 Continuous Conversations
Gone are the days when brands ‘broadcast’ to their consumers. Consumers expect interaction, personalisation and agility. According to research by Attest 25% of Brits want their favourite brands to make them feel ‘valued & special’ while another quarter want brands to ‘inspire & motivate them.’
Sweaty Betty are hoping to inspire & motivate their audience by linking with Strava. If you sign up to a monthly challenge (and meet your targets!) SB will send you a voucher for money off their kit.
Implications: Every interaction between a brand and consumers should be two way, with genuine dialogue and engagement
Anticipating The Next Normal
If your brand has done well out of consumers’ lockdown and pandemic-avoidance behaviours – how can you capitalise on your increased salience and cement your future?
Equally, if your brand has been negatively impacted by the decimation of out-of-home social, commuting and impulse behaviours – how could you adapt your business models or propositions to regain your relevance?
Whichever situation you find yourself in – getting your insight, strategy, product innovation and experiential proposition right has never been more important!