CMO Minute: Marketing and Consumer Trends in 2021

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The coronavirus pandemic spread throughout the world in 2020 and changed many aspects of people’s lives. Each individual was impacted in multiple ways spanning across the education, health care, shopping, travel, and entertainment industries. 

Overall, the pandemic resulted in an acceleration of many pre-existing societal trends. For example, online education grew, and telehealth and telemedicine took off. In addition, many companies discovered that they were ready and capable of working from home. And many individuals turned to grocery delivery apps and new direct to consumer (D2C) products. While each of these industries has been growing steadily, 2020 saw a scale of growth typically seen in the scale of a decade. 

Across the globe, nearly every individual formed new habits, and studies have reported that 75 to 90% of individuals have tried new brands as a result of the pandemic. These behavioral changes pose important questions for psychology and marketing going forward: what behavioral changes will continue, which will revert to normal, and what new behavioral patterns will emerge? 

For marketers, the answer to these questions is key in terms of understanding existing, new, and future customers. Here are three key behavior-based changes in media and advertising to consider in 2021:

Trend 1: Digital Out-Of-Home Gets Interesting (and people actually notice)

The number of digital out-of-home (digital OOH) billboards has continued to increase year over year, and OOH ad spend continues an upward trend. As 2021 progresses, we anticipate that society will begin to feel safer, more individuals will go back to working at the office, and people will begin taking more frequent trips. 

As we begin to go out and explore the world with greater frequency, there will be an opportunity for brands to engage audiences with creative digital OOH. People will be curious to take in outdoor displays again and they will actually pay attention. And of course, marketers should recognize that these displays build awareness and trust in a time when audiences have had a lot more on their mind than your product or brand. 

Trend 2: The Rise of First Party Data (and the death of cookies)

Many browsers are phasing out third-party cookies in response to consumers increasing privacy concerns (we discuss this in more detail here). As a result, many marketers are scrambling to collect information on their customers and to engage their customers in new creative ways. 

How can marketers keep up with the loss of cookies? Cookie monster jokes aside, focusing on contextual and keyword targeting and forming 1st and 3rd party data partnerships are just a few proactive steps you can take.

Trend 3: The Rise of Streaming and Programmatic Advertising

Online streaming increased dramatically in March 2020, and many individuals continued to use these streaming platforms throughout the year. With the growth of online streaming, it’s critical to consider our ability (or inability) to target users with programmatic advertising. 

In response to the greater number of people streaming and the decline in the cinema, many entertainment companies are now shifting emphasis on creating their own subscription-model based streaming platforms. Marketers will have to get creative with engaging the audiences using these platforms, for example, by considering product placements, and they should consider shifting their emphasis to advertisement-based streaming platforms such as YouTube. 

Of course, we’re happy to help you with your marketing challenges here at Intermark Group. Just give us a call at 800-624-9239 or email us at [email protected]. And here’s hoping that 2021 isn’t quite as bad as 2020.