2020 was an atypical and challenging year for the business world. Therefore, the expectations that arise with the arrival of a new year are even higher in 2021.
Market trends are a valuable object of study, because they are directly related to the movement of money in the economy. Monitoring market trends is very important, as it shows not a fixed point in the future, but a probable direction of consumption waves.
Some innovations in the field of digital marketing are among the top priorities for most business owners in 2021. And why wouldn’t they be? After all, if your business has any intention of remaining competitive in today’s online landscape, you must adapt to the rapidly evolving changes in digital marketing. As Brian Solis points out:
“Each business is a victim of Digital Darwinism, the evolution of consumer behavior when society and technology evolve faster than the ability to exploit it. Digital Darwinism does not discriminate. Every business is threatened.”
There’s no doubt that we live in a time when technology marketing moves fast and consumer interests and behaviors are getting harder and harder to predict. Marketers can no longer stick their heads in the sand and hope that educated guesses and the same old methods will work forever.
So, what are the main market trends for the future?
- Intelligence Everywhere
While the pandemic has caused some organizations to cut back on their artificial intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) plans, others have stepped up their efforts. With the rise of e-commerce, smart bots that can suggest new products and services, and help in the automatization of repetitive tasks have become more important than ever. Meanwhile, AI projects that can gather insights from data also seem like a smart move.
IDC highlights “intelligence everywhere” as one of the 12 biggest IT trends in 2021. In the same report, it predicts, “By 2023, driven by the goal to embed intelligence in products and services, one quarter of G2000 companies will acquire at least one AI software start-up to ensure ownership of differentiated skills and IP.”
Artificial intelligence will soon be the driving force behind many services and, currently, we already see it implemented in such areas as:
- Basic communication
- Product recommendations
- Email personalization
- E-commerce transactions
- Content creation
A study delivered by BCG Group and the MIT Sloan Management Review, suggests that in order to reach significant financial returns, organizations need a multidimensional and complex relationship with AI – which involves several learning methods and different modes of interaction. Executive leaders were heard and the results revealed that more than half are already implementing AI: six out of ten have an AI strategy today, against four out of ten in 2018. These companies are already getting a significant return on their AI investments. What sets them apart? For them, AI is not just a path to automation; it is an integral strategic component of your business.
One example of AI, is Clickflow’s Content Editor instead of guessing what subtopics to cover in an article, with Using Artificial Intelligence to serve up subtopics and related keywords will make any article ultra-comprehensive and give it the best possible chance to rank on page one.
The businesses adopting AI in 2021 will be able to cut staffing costs and accelerate growth, getting an edge over their competitors.
- What is Artificial Intelligence(AI) and Machine Learning? – Science Made Easy
- 6 Cool Future Technologies That Are Straight Out Of Sci-Fi
- Brand with purpose
If, in recent years, some companies have attracted attention by positioning themselves as being in favor of certain social causes, their declared commitments are increasingly questioned by the public – and 2020 has had many examples and opportunities in this regard.
Some campaigns like Hilton’s #HotelsForHeroes, where they gave away free rooms to medical workers, or Chanel’s contribution to the pandemic, where they tasked their seamstresses with making face masks have been positively received by the public.
On the other hand, there were also cases where organizations had to change their attitude after critical events in relation to their employees and establishments. For instance, Tim Martin, founder and chairman of the Weatherspoons pub franchise, posted an ill-judged video on social media informing staff that they wouldn’t be getting paid whilst Wetherspoons’ doors were closed and suggested that they start looking for jobs elsewhere. The video went viral and the hashtag #boycottwetherspoons was trending on Twitter.
What can be seen from this scenario is that the 2021 consumers will need much more than advertising slogans to be convinced.
It’s impossible for consumers to connect with brands that they see as “shady” or insincere. Why would they want to invest in something that they can’t trust or don’t believe in? Consumers want transparency. This is why connection will be pivotal for brands that want to remain trusted sources in 2021.
“Throughout the many challenges of 2020, revenue teams have been able to weather the storms and thrive by putting the customer at the center of every decision. This is only made possible through total alignment between sales, marketing, and customer teams, as all must rely on using the actual voice, pain points, and goals to create a winning partnership.
While conventional methods of relationship building, like in-person meetings, may not be possible today (or simply don’t scale quickly enough), entering 2021 provides us a paradigm shift for bringing relationships and shared business goals to the forefront of every opportunity.”
Words attract, but keeping people engaged and loyal, in the midst of growing competition, demands much more action.
- Consumer experience even more important
For 2021, it is necessary to innovate in the consumer experience. With so many facilities in the post-pandemic world, convincing the customers to go to one store over another will be necessary to attract them. Therefore, the environmental impression a store makes on a potential customer is now of greater importance.
A study conducted by WGSN in 2020 reveals the behaviors that tend to emerge in this scenario. Notable is the search for “calm” spaces as a way to escape from all the proliferation of information today.
Consumers crave enjoyable experiences with brands that are easy and memorable. They want proof before they buy and they want to be reassured – after all, no one wants to make the wrong decision.
One example is Conversational Marketing which facilitates a one-to-one, real-time connection between marketers and customers. The main goal of this strategy is to enhance the user experience through a feedback-driven model that fosters higher engagement and greater loyalty.
- Digital Transformation
Companies have been engaged in the digital transformation process for several years, but in 2020, the digital transformation has accelerated more than anyone anticipated. The need to do more business online has forced organizations to adopt digital models and processes much faster than planned.
Many companies have transferred money from other initiatives to digital transformation efforts to keep up with this trend. According to IDC:
“Despite a global pandemic, investment in direct digital transformation (DX) is still growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.5% from 2020 to 2023 and is expected to approach $6.8 trillion as companies build on existing strategies and investments, becoming digital-at-scale future enterprises”.
By 2022, 70% of all organizations will have accelerated the use of digital technologies, transforming existing business processes to drive customer engagement, employee productivity and business resilience.
- Voice and Visual Search Growth
The use of virtual assistants grew 47% during the pandemic, according to the survey by Ilumeo. Among the options available on the market, the one that has been most successful – and tends to continue in this growth – is Alexa, from the North American company Amazon.
This scenario shows that voice research has gained a strategic place in the communication trends for 2021.
Lockdown obligates people to stay at home and with limited opportunities for conversation, or just simply because this type of technology is more readily available (about one in four American homes has a smart speaker of some kind), use of such technologies is increasing
The visual mode is another trend. In 2017, Google Lens was launched to improve the search for images in the search engine. The platform allows the user to search what they want through images. Imagine that you are looking for a new piece of furniture for your home, but don’t want to waste time typing all the product information. With Google Lens, just take a picture of the model and send it. Another possible situation is the translation of a label or plaque: just send what you need to read and the image becomes text.
Almost three years later, this trend has gained even more strength and emerges as a major bet for 2021.
In 2018, a study by Kissmetrics showed that 93% of consumers consider visual aids as decisive factors in a purchase decision.
Companies which adapt their sites to offer visual and voice search will see an increase of up to 30% in digital commerce revenues in 2021, as revealed by Gartner’s global survey.
Ready for 2021?
There’s no doubt that companies are learning more about how they connect with their customers. And with lockdowns in many countries, people are spending more time at home and online. This has pushed brands to branch out and create more human-centric ways of reaching their buyers.