Re-shaping the future of communications
2020 has been a watershed year for many brands, forcing them to embrace the power of pivoting and quick adaptation. Not doing so was a risk not worth taking. While it presented challenges, 2020 shaped and solidified new forms of communication that brands must be cognisant of, leading into 2021.
The New Consumer
Ernst & Young’s Future Consumer Index Report highlights the changing consumer mind-set shaped by COVID-19. It suggests that consumers are craving a sense of normality, with 40% ready to get back to normal and more than half (53%) claiming that the past few months drastically altered their values. With a new consumer makeup, the report identifies the following emerging trends:
Personal and societal wellbeing
● 26% of consumers prefer brands they trust to be safe and that minimise unnecessary risks.
● 57% indicated they now pay closer attention to a product's health benefits.
● 16% believe that everyone should work together for the greater good.
● 73% are prepared to change their behaviour to benefit society.
Affordability, the environment and human connection
● 17% would change their purchase and pay a premium for high-quality, ethically sourced and sustainable goods.
● 59% indicated an intent to shop locally in the future.
● 53% are happy to share personal data if it helps to track infection clusters. This calls for increased transparency between a brand and its consumers, with the data expected to be used responsibly.
Experience at the fore
● Augmented reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are helping consumers test drive their purchases before committing to them. Examples include eyewear company, Warby Parker’s virtual try-on feature on its app, and IKEA’s new AR-driven app that allows consumers to virtualise furniture and kitchen designs in their home.
Change to The Right Channels
PwC’s Global Entertainment & Media Outlook 2020 – 2024 predicts a -6.30% compound annual growth rate in newspaper and consumer magazine consumption in South Africa - a trend many have predicted as increasingly more people opt to consume information digitally.
The report also predicts an influx of technology-driven media channels that brands should be cognisant of, in their marketing endeavours. While advertising across all segments saw a decline owing to a lack of advertiser confidence, internet advertising remains the best choice at a 5.65% compound annual growth rate as opposed to non-digital avenues.
Brands should place increased emphasis on the digital suite by converting messages to reach digitally-driven consumers on their platforms of choice. It’s important to remember that the new age consumer now chooses quality over quantity, something brands must consider instead of merely chasing AVE.
The Changing Face of Social
COVID-19 thrust consumers into the digital era and apart from memetic media, nostalgia marketing and the need to gain consumer trust on the back of digital disinformation, brands must be cognisant of:
● The continued rise of e-commerce
E-commerce across social platforms has increased. Insights from Hootsuite claim that six out of 10 consumers indicate that a quarter of their online shopping is influenced by social media. As consumers spend more time online, the opportunities to influence their purchasing decisions will increase.
● Short-form videos
Easy to make and easy to watch, short form-videos have been bolstered by the rise of TikTok and Instagram's Reels feature. There is now a need to get information across quickly and many brands have jumped on the bandwagon, offering consumers bite-sized content that is easily digested.
● Gaming platform advertising opportunities
The gaming industry is expected to be worth $180 billion in 2021. While this was previously a tough industry to infiltrate, social media gaming is predicted to rise even further, presenting brands with an opportunity to advertise through gaming networks.
● Conversational marketing
Consumers are looking at brands that are engaged in social issues, having honest and meaningful conversations through chatbots, social messaging, calls and more.
New Face of Creative
Apart from muted colour pallets, classic serif fonts and the influx of geometric shapes in 2021, here are the key trends to take note of:
● Simple data visualisations
In an era of boundless data, it is imperative that relevant information is presented via graphs and infographics, with the aim of making it easily digestible.
● Social media slide decks
Popular on LinkedIn and Instagram, social media slide decks present a visual way to convey a great deal of information with a single interactive post. The algorithms on Instagram and LinkedIn boost a slide deck post more than a single image.
● Moving text in video
Shooting on location is not always a viable option. Infusing videos with text communicates a brand’s message in an easier and cheaper yet effective way.
● Engaging animations
The prevalence of social media means that engaging animations are the way to go when creating a more dynamic user experience.
● All about authenticity
Consumers crave authenticity and are attracted to brands they feel they can trust. Graphics that are too salesy or gimmicky will drive consumers away.
The Future of Events
The suddenness and scale of disruption in the event space led to brands quickly re-evaluating events and as 2021 emerges, much of what has been done in the past will continue to be crucial for success, including:
● Virtual and hybrid events here to stay
PCMA reports reveal that 76% of planners indicated a shift to virtual for years to come. The potential for the increase in attendance and reach will be around in the foreseeable future.
● Experiences that require less physical touch
Touchless interactions allow for technology to take centre stage, with registration and communication being relayed via apps and online channels.
● New paradigms for business interaction and networking
These can be managed via the use of a web portal, app, or social media groups to heighten engagement and participation.
● Continued social distancing measures
Events will see health screening areas, face masks and dividers being used; with social distancing in sessions and breakouts becoming a norm.
● Smaller and more personalised
With fewer consumers willing to travel and be in crowded spaces, events in 2021 will likely be personalised and smaller.
2020 has shown that brands need to be agile, and that brand advocacy and building trust amongst consumers are imperative for survival. As the new year approaches, some countries are still dealing with the effects of the pandemic, meaning that much of what was learnt in 2020 will continue to shape the communications landscape in 2021 and beyond.