2020 has been a year of uncertainty, and the difficult reality right now is that no one has any real idea of what the future will hold. But that doesn’t mean it’s all doom and gloom, however. Instead, we can look back on the year, review the challenging lessons, and make informed predictions and decisions based on what shifts took place and how they might impact this next phase of emergence. This is especially true for businesses and brands.
While the world may not look entirely different from the one that existed before, there are probably going to be some important changes to be aware of. If you’re a brand or marketing manager, you must keep your finger on the pulse of the industry and any future brand trends, so that they can inform your navigation of the ‘new world’.
An emphasis on empathy
A global health crisis has a way of impacting the world in a very different way to disruptive technology or a “typical” economic downturn. Why? Because a worldwide health risk tends to affect people in a hugely personal way. Against this backdrop, our first prediction for the future is that consumers are likely to put greater importance on a brand’s show of humanity and empathy, as well as the actual value of the brand’s products or offerings.
More and more, people are probably going to want to support brands that care about both their customers (and their needs and pain points) and the world around them once the dust settles. With this in mind, it’s important to find ways to better position your brand, authentically express your compassion, and highlight your values.
As for the brands that did (or didn’t) show genuine empathy in the throes of the pandemic, there’s a good chance that’s something that customers are going to remember.
A move towards more “purpose over profit” thinking
One of the most wonderful positives that came out of 2020 is that it sparked a deeper sense of community for many people across the globe. People found myriad ways to help and support each other, show solidarity, and ultimately, many people came “together” despite lockdowns (from balconies, on Zoom, putting money towards fundraisers) for “the greater good”.
Brand authenticity and social values have been important for consumers for some time (and are sure to continue to be important), but we believe purpose, social good, and brands learning how to foster a sense of community are going to play a significant role in brand strategies moving forward. Much like the previous sentiment, customers are going to want to support the brands that make a difference and stand for something.
The brand experience will matter
Even before the pandemic, it was noted that 80% of consumers feel that the experience they have with a brand is as important as what that brand sells, and this trend is certainly set to continue post-pandemic.
Brands will need to ensure that they optimize their engagement and experience with consumers at every stage of the buyer’s funnel. The brands willing to relook their marketing and sales processes to do just that are sure to thrive moving forward.
E-commerce will take precedence over in-store visits
The online space blossomed amid lockdowns and quarantines in various ways. Unsurprisingly then, the e-commerce space has also boomed. Between high-risk individuals and those looking to minimize their chances of getting the virus, as things start to go back to “normal”, we predict people will still probably favor online over in-store shopping for some time to come.
Brands that go out of their way to make the online shopping experience a pleasant one—and who are willing to optimize the process at each touchpoint—are sure to come out on top. This is especially true for brands that leverage technology for enhanced user experiences (think IKEA’s Place app that virtually places their items in your house to see how it looks). Now is the time to think about what your customers need and how best to meet those needs.
Localization is sure to continue
At the height of the pandemic, countries across the globe battled with closed borders and thwarted supply chains. This inspired an organic shift towards local products and produce and people started turning to what they could find in their own countries. Small local businesses were suddenly seeing the support they perhaps had never seen and local (including local holiday destinations when local travel was allowed) suddenly became trendy. This idea of localization and people supporting all things “homegrown” is something we believe is set to stay for some time.
All things virtual will continue to be important
As alluded to above, people turned to the Internet during the pandemic to shop, find entertainment, and connect with each other. Almost overnight, gatherings of every kind went online, from meetings and seminars to chats with friends and families. And while many of us can’t wait to see people and enjoy in-person gatherings to the full once more, the chances are things will remain virtual (or hybrid, the combination of in-person and virtual elements), for some time. This won’t just be for events and gatherings, people are likely to expect more things to move into the virtual space, and the need for online scheduling, messaging windows, and chatbots will likely increase. When thinking about brand trends in 2021, remember that all of these virtual experiences will suddenly take on more meaning than they had in the past.
Predicted brand trends and future events
All of the predicted brand trends above will probably ultimately change the way people perceive and interact with your brand. This means that when it comes to planning events in the future, it would be wise to be conscious of each of them and build them into your marketing strategy wherever possible.
Here are some things to think about for your future events:
- Make sure your customers understand that you genuinely care about them and that they are your focus
- You’ll want to find ways to humanize your brand
- Let people know which social causes you not only support but are passionate about
- If you are planning a virtual or hybrid event, make sure the virtual elements are seamless and bolster your brand engagement
- Find ways to include exciting technologies in your event, such as virtual reality and augmented reality. This will ensure your event is a memorable one and in many cases, you can use these technologies to encourage social distancing
- Think about how you can best support local: suppliers, teams, and venues
- Make the most of hybrid events that help you to keep key elements of your event local but still allow for a global reach.
While this year has been extremely challenging, it’s also brought about innovation, change, and growth, the type that shapes people and the brands they support. Use these important lessons to your advantage so that you can bolster and not hinder your future efforts.
Planning an event and want to make sure it’s on point? Then get in touch with us at The Event Production Company. We’ve organized some 5000 events over almost 30 years, so you can trust that no matter what kind of event you would like to host—virtual, hybrid, or physical—we can help you to ensure it’s aligned with the latest trends and resonates with your customers.