It is useless to deny it: Throughout the course of 2021, marketers around the world will have to come to terms with the new rules in consumer behavior, with the consequences of the pandemic scenario we are experiencing. COVID-19 was not only an accelerator of digital transformation but made it inevitable and urgent, even where it was still in a very unripe phase. Companies found themselves in the urgent need to digitize, fragment, and deconstruct processes that, until a second before, had been linear, centralized, and “physical”.

If working and any other activity – from shopping to sports, from cooking to personal care – are carried out at home, remotely, then they necessarily change and the touchpoints must change with the user. One cannot think of continuing to do digital communication as it was done pre-COVID nor of continuing on what has been done over the last months. Marketing (2021 and beyond) will have to take the form of a structured plan, based on the assumption that, in a new and different world, equally new and different strategies are needed:

Personalization to win the saturation of the market

It has recently been estimated that, on a daily basis, we are exposed to between 6,000 and 10,000 advertisements, and that this number is only going to increase. In a world now saturated with signals, symbols, and similar content, it is not surprising that many consumers are identifying the key element of their interest in the personalization of brands. These personalized experiences do not necessarily have to be the result of complex processing, but they can already be applied within emails. By personalizing content, using preference data, shopping history, and online browsing, marketers are able to effectively segment the target and deliver personalized content to the recipient.

Storytelling as present and future strategic driver

Storytelling and content sharing have become a pillar of marketing; consumers today want to connect with brands on a much deeper level, whose narrative is characterized by human touch. By intertwining the brand message with emotions, companies are giving consumers reasons to buy their product, telling them why the brand is important. These strategies are different as the number of stories to tell is different (branded content, influencer integration, UGC, etc.).

Customer experience and interactive content, then products

Consumers today are able to interact with a brand through a wide variety of channels so it is important that cross-channel strategies are used to enhance their experience. Omnichannel marketing brings together all points of customer interaction, including physical places like stores, but also eCommerce, email, and social media, and sees them as parts of a single, integrated, and targeted journey to purchase.

Users are tired of “just watching”, they want to do, they want to interact with brands. Content marketing, which has reigned supreme up to now, will become increasingly interactive. Green light to “shoppable posts” – a special tag that allows you to link the objects of the social posts to the corresponding eCommerce; augmented reality, virtual reality, 3D models integrated with eCommerce, 360-degree videos, surveys, etc. The interactive contents are new, they attract the attention of visitors, and offer a reason for the user to take an interest in our offer, they are easily shared and can go viral, they help to create and increase brand awareness, they facilitate the creation of communities.

Given these needs, what are the new dynamics that shape brand communication destined to become a trend in the near future for those brands interested in speaking with relevance to their targets?

1. Innovative and disruptive tone of voice

Source: Knix’s “Age doesn’t matter” campaign (2020)

Knix’s “Age doesn’t matter” campaign, of which you see a photo above, celebrates beauty at all ages. More and more brands are choosing to address a mature target with new ease and resourcefulness, whose sensuality and traits, previously typically associated only with a given age group, are not denied.

2. Genderless and inclusive communication

Source: Babbel’s campaign (2020)

Brands are, in fact, understanding that everyday language shapes the way society views the world. As a result, many have launched new, inclusive-language initiatives that challenge rethinking on how certain words are used, from the anti-racist theme (the GitHub software project hosting service has replaced the word “master” because it referred to slavery) to the anti-sexist one, as in the case of Babbel. In perfect antithesis to the climate of intolerance that is spreading in some areas of Europe, the app reaffirms one of its main values: diversity, an inclusive and universal concept. A tribute, that of Babbel, to courage, so that everyone can better express themselves.

3. Authentic brand communities

Source: Friendspire’s campaign (2020)

Brands in the tech world are launching new apps and spaces that allow close-knit social circles, made up of family and friends, to share their tips on movies, restaurants, and more. These tools aim to replace the anonymous review systems that many still rely on, fostering traditional and authentic word of mouth among acquaintances. Consumers crave real, unbiased recommendations, far from well-known marketing ploys. These include Bingie, the platform dedicated to the exchange of advice on which programs and films to watch, or Friendspire, which, in addition to the latter, also deals with books, food, and podcasts.

4. Viral and interactive communication

Source: Burger King’s campaign (2020)

Companies are progressively increasing their presence on video-based, social apps with popular viral choreography. Brands often use these platforms to launch marketing campaigns that use jingle and dance in order to foster and accelerate brand awareness and communication reach, especially among young and higher-value consumer targets. An example of this is what Burger King did on Tiktok (a channel still to be exploited) with the “Whopper Dance”.

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