Marketers and consumers alike have had enough ‘pivoting’, ‘new normal’ and ‘unprecedented’ business updates to last a lifetime. In 2020’s ‘sea of change’, worldwide disruption has impacted audience behaviours, measurement metrics and business forecasts for the year ahead.
In the spirit of planning for what we can see and strategising for what we cannot, here are five considerations all suits should keep in mind:
1. The resurgence of brand building
It’s never been more important for brands to focus on fostering meaningful relationships with their audiences. In a year governed by shelter-in-place restrictions, consumers have sought more personal, human interactions from their friends, family and brands. Yet, amid the chaos of 2020 and quick shift to meet changing customer expectations, short-term execution had to take the wheel, with longer-term brand planning designated to the backseat.
With Australia in the fortunate position where life has started to again resemble somewhat of a routine, consumer trends will begin to show a level of predictability in 2021. For the year ahead, brand strategists, marketers and advertisers will need to think strategically on how to build genuine brand affinity and meaningful audience connections to thrive in an arena of increased focus on trust and human experience.
2. Be e-com or be square
Online shopping has truly boomed this year, with Aussies purchasing consumer goods, products and services in record numbers—in April, Australia Post was delivering 1.8 million parcels a day, and we barely slowed down as the months followed. This astronomical demand saw brands rapidly invest in digital transformation across the e-commerce, direct-to-consumer and buy-now-pay-later space, while logistics and delivery services boomed.
Aussie consumer habits are forever altered—while we’ll venture back into stores and seek out experiences, we won’t forget the ease and utter convenience of a few simple clicks turning into a home delivery a few days later. And you better believe the brands that flourish will be those that invest in e-com.
3. Relocate your target audience
The customer journey has changed dramatically and consistently throughout the year, shaking up media consumption habits and the industry itself. As work went remote and office commutes were no more, the traditional commute peak times went out the window. With Aussies spending more time at home than ever before and able to tune into the small screen at any which time, prime time was in flux. Even as workplaces reopen, it’s doubtful the nation will fall back into many old habits.
Advertisers and marketers must relocate their displaced target audiences and adjust their media strategies to reach customers when and where they are. Instead of leaning on previous understanding of their audience’s behaviours, brands will leverage new insights to tap into their customers’ evolving journeys at opportune times.
4. Bottoms up! The future is bright for grass-roots content
The events of 2020 have effectively turned more virtual unknowns into household names overnight than ever before. In times of physical isolation, the world collectively found a sense of community and belonging in user-generated content. Through shelter-in-place restrictions, influencer marketing and community (co)created content became an even more attractive tactic—thanks in part to its ease of production from home and speedy turnaround times.
Better yet, this bottom-up content is far more influential than any 30-second professionally produced pre-roll, and as budgets continue to be scarce and under scrutiny, it’s hard to argue with the cost-effectiveness. Realising this, adland and brands will continue to look to community-created content, but the top-of-the-line, highly produced ads we know and love aren’t going anywhere.
5. Track performance, not humans
If 2020 has shown us one thing, it’s that the age-old adage that a good salesperson is never at their desk is a thing of the past. As is the notion that the hardest working employees are the ones who arrive first and leave last. The office underwent a complete overhaul as we opened our front doors and invited colleagues, clients, prospects to join us on a video call (or 500-odd) from our homes. While it might be some time, if ever, until the agency bullpens are back in action, the reality is adland embraced remote working and teams continued to thrive.
It is undeniable that remote employees can deliver the same, if not better, results as those in the office. There’s no going back from here. Industry leaders must overhaul their preconceptions and change their mindset to track teams’ performance, not the people. It matters that your strategist is delivering strong insights, or your sales lead is hitting their targets, not that they’re kicking these goals by the local beach or poolside. At the end of the day, it’s the results that ultimately matter, not where they’re logging on from and if it’s during a regimented 9-5. The businesses that recognise this will thrive.
Overall, people want meaningful connections, easy engagement with brands and products that answer a relevant need. Figure that out, and you’ll be in a good place to build an effective marcomm strategy for your brand in 2021.