New Year, New Marketing Trends: 5 Areas of Focus

by Susan Mullin

By Sarah Wyland

marketing trends

This unforgettable year has changed so many aspects of our lives. Everything has changed, from education and social gatherings to our work environment, leisure and more.

As a result, expectations are evolving, which requires organizations to consider new ways of marketing to and communicating with consumers. Whether you work for a B2B, B2C, or non-profit, here are 5 trends to think about in the new year.

Brand Activism

Given the growth of political and social activism in 2020, consumers now expect brands to speak up and speak out. Organizations should talk about important issues and do so with authenticity. Nike’s For Once, Don’t Do It campaign spoke out against racism and called for everyone to participate in change. Toms’ COVID-19 Global Giving Fund encourages consumers’ contributions for supplies, hygiene stations, and other key pandemic-related efforts.

On the B2B side, IBM and Yara launched a powerful platform and campaign related to sustainable farming and hunger elimination. After a year that brought with it a global pandemic, racial injustice movement, and volatile political election, consumers want more. They expect brands to not only talk the talk but walk the walk more than ever.

Customer Participation and Engagement

Another crucial 2021 marketing trend is continued focus on customer engagement. In addition to connecting with brands on social issues, consumers want engagement around organizations’ products and services. Regardless of your industry, customers are no longer passive consumers, simply liking a post and moving on. They leave reviews, create conversations—and expect responses more than ever.

Brands should prepare to connect frequently with their audiences. Effective examples include Shopify and HubSpot’s engaging B2B customer resources to Coke’s Together Tastes Better campaign and Iceland’s Inspired By Iceland website which encourages travelers to take selfies around the country (or even “scream into the void.”)

User Generated Content

User-Generated Content (UGC) is one of the ultimate forms of customer participation and engagement and will continue to be a highly effective form of word-of-mouth advertising. Given the huge impact of influencers, particularly during the quarantine and resulting social distancing, brands are looking to their customers for marketing help more than ever.

UGC enabled companies like EdX, higher ed online course provider and B2B training platform, to achieve major success in this area with initiatives like Celebrate Together which featured user-generated messages, photos and video to celebrate graduations. Notably, Social Media Today proclaims 2021 “the year of UGC.”

Live Events, Virtual Edition

Users are on screens more than ever as a result of remote work and the quarantine in general. In turn, brands are utilizing social media’s “live” tools and virtual events to connect with their audience, create community and showcase everything from new product launches and consumer how-tos to company events, professional development and others.

2020 also brought exciting virtual concerts, theater and other performances like this summer’s live-streamed Hamilton featuring the original cast. In 2021, look for live online events to grow even more— 93% of event professionals plan to invest in virtual events. This is a don’t-miss 2021 marketing trend to consider for your strategic planning.

Google Core Web Vitals

No surprise—Google continues to be the 900 lb. gorilla in the room when it comes to search engine. While they are often tight-lipped about their algorithms, they have given brands a heads up with the launch of Google Core Web Vitals, coming sometime in 2021.

This update will emphasize user experience such as page load time and mobile web sites. This time around, companies have time to prepare their websites in order to ensure their rankings don’t plummet when the new algorithm goes into effect.

The events of 2020 have changed consumer expectations for businesses and organizations of all kinds in a number of important areas. We hope you can capitalize on some of these trends in 2021 and achieve key marketing goals and objectives.

Look out for more updates on 2021 marketing trends and tactics in the coming weeks!

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