Due to the relative chaos of 2020, some trends that were predicted pre-pandemic did perform as expected, others didn’t emerge at all, with various forced adaptations reshaping elements of the marketing landscape. Most notably, eCommerce sales went through the roof, consumers spent a lot more time on social media, and video conferencing became the norm. This has led to a major shift in the way brands connect with their consumers. This led to a marked increase in the number of people tuning into live-streams, whether it was a branded live-stream, a live video from their favorite celebrity, or an online workshop. Influencers’ live-streams can help build trust and connection between your brand and consumers.

On Facebook, live viewings spiked by 50% during lockdown periods, while viewings on Instagram surged 70%. TikTok use shot up in 2020, and there’s a good chance we’ll see this upward trajectory continue to play out in 2021. Amazon Live really got going during the pandemic. Influencers took to the platform to promote their favorite products during live events. What’s more, the live streams were shoppable, which meant viewers could make purchases while they were watching.

Importance of Trust and Transparency

It’s hard for consumers to connect with brands that they see as insincere or problematic. Why would they want to invest in something that they can’t trust or don’t believe in? A report from Deloitte states that brands need to “be deeply attuned to why they exist and who they are built to serve”. We’re no strangers to seeing brands doing good things, but there will be an even bigger emphasis on this next year.

Over the past couple few years we’ve seen a shift in brands moving towards a more sustainable future, whether it’s through the materials they use, the packaging, their systems, or their treatment of employees/contractors.

Inclusivity and Social Consciousness

A study by Accenture shows that the cultural shift towards inclusivity is also impacting purchase behavior, with 41% of shoppers shifting away from retailers which don’t reflect their views on identity and diversity – and 29% are willing to switch brands completely if they don’t show enough diversity. Brands that are seen to be non-inclusive, or who don’t appear to be a part of the inclusivity conversation, will likely see impacts in 2021. On the flipside, brands which openly showcase their involvement in inclusive causes, will reap the benefits and drive deeper connections with their buyers.

Consumers look for brands that align with their own social concerns, like adequate treatment of employees, environmental consciousness, and responsible philanthropy.

Voice and Visual SEO

An increasing number of consumers are searching via voice-activated tools like Alexa, Google Home, or Siri. Perhaps consumers are feeling starved for conversation, or they simply appreciate the accessibility, but either way, voice search is on the rise.

Visual tools like Google Lens enable consumers can search for whatever they can see. This means marketers will need to focus even more on image alt-text and sitemaps for images. Retail Customer Experience estimates that by 2021 early adopters that redesign their websites to support visual and voice search will increase their digital commerce revenue by 30%.

Are you ready to move forward?

The unpredictable nature of 2020 has forced brands to reconsider how they connect with their customers. Shop closures and stay-at-home orders meant people were inside, subsequently spending a lot more time online. This has pushed brands to branch out and create more human-centric ways of reaching their buyers.

Over 2021, this is likely to continue. Live-streams will become increasingly common, purpose-driven brands that champion social consciousness and diversity with thrive, and basic searching will be revolutionised with new technology.