2020: A Marketing Year in Review

Nobody could have predicted all of the changes coming in 2020, but now that it’s all said and done, it’s time to look back. The consumer behavior landscape has changed dramatically, crushing trends we’ve all predicted in years prior and sky-rocketing the steady growth we had been experiencing. Marketing has without a doubt evolved in the age of COVID. A surge in ecommerce sales, mobile device usage, a focus on small business and buying local are just some of the most notable shifts to consumer behavior this year.

We would be remiss if we failed to mention the rapidly growing need for new online and digital experiences, prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic and fueled by a strong need for creative virtual event marketing. Our year-in-review looks back on 2020 to discuss the major marketing trends observed while discussing their implications for the future.

A New Mobile Lifeline

With seemingly the entire world facing restrictions, lockdowns and being stuck indoors, smartphones have quickly become a lifeline to the outside world. Data usage spiked up to 47% during COVID-19, driving more people to experience new brands, more global ideas and even new technology all through their handheld device. Additionally, this consumer adaptation has pushed middle-aged and older adults to embrace technology more than ever.This will continue to be an opportunity for brands to connect with growing audiences. However, this connection goes beyond a sales transaction. Amid the global pandemic, brands sought to express their deepest sympathies and adjust their business models to be more inclusive to all. Sharing support for important global causes and ensuring your brand purpose is aligned with that of your consumers has become integral to avoiding the risk of being seen as a company acting in their own corporate interest, being “cancelled” or suffering financial consequence. The conscious consumer seeks to find ways to escape difficult situations with the help of brands and technology.

Companies must equip themselves for this rapid adoption of new consumer behavior that continues to shift with the increased use of mobile devices and exposure to forward-thinking ideas. To prepare for the future, brands are building real-time data dashboards, reformulating their strategies to truly focus on addressing gaps in the customer journey and moving approvals up the corporate ladder more quickly. It’s important to stay ahead and double down on consumer insights or trends to ensure you don’t trail behind your competitors.

Socializing Online, All the time

In the past few years, we’ve seen an increased interest in experiential, pop-ups and temporary in-person events. The pandemic quickly brought those interests to a halt and replaced it with virtual events of all types. With the rise of virtual conferencing platforms like Zoom and Microsoft  Teams – just to name a few– for corporate use, people quickly began to adopt the platforms as a means to keep in touch with friends and family to reach a new sense of “normalcy.” 

You can expect to see social interaction between brands and consumers to be ever more important as people begin to question the need for a “high-touch” environment and debating whether something needs to even be an in-person meeting at all. As everyone continues to adjust to a new way of socializing, you can expect to see more remote attendees to in-person events and new social networks and digital tools rising up to the limelight.

The Rise of the Armchair Shopper

People are shopping more than ever, but now from the complete comfort (and safety) of their home. From full grocery hauls to quick meals, consumers are taking advantage of pickup and delivery options. Businesses are expected to provide a variety of options for this new wave of ecommerce. In addition to making purchases easier, it’s important to keep shipping speedy and efficient. Having an open line of communication with customers, maintaining stock, providing real-time delivery updates and impeccable customer service are all hallmarks of an outstanding experience. 

This new group of shoppers is more conscious with a desire to support local businesses and improve their community’s economy first. With stores and malls closing their doors across the world, consumer gut instincts have been to panic-buy online and causing a drastic shortage of essential products online. We expect this shift in consumer behavior is not only here to stay, but to also influence future shoppers for decades to come.

A More Mindful Marketing Approach

While ad spend was down from 2019, brands are exploring new ways to use their budget wisely. Ecommerce sites are being used as advertising platforms more than ever to step in as in-store messaging normally would at brick-and-mortars. It is expected that brands will spend around $58B on e-commerce ads in 2020. This increased investment is set to continue trending upward 30x faster than ever.

Brands not currently online, have quickly shifted their budget to build their ecommerce platforms. The trend of using marketing budgets to provide consumers peace of mind, new shopping experiences, and alternative to in-person retail will continue to expand as a push for an improved online experience goes on and consumer behavior continues to be molded by the social climate, wherein social media becomes a huge part of users’ lives.

Personalizing Business Practices

Businesses can’t treat their marketing strategy as a one-size-fits-all approach. Consumer behavior will continue to drive what brands and businesses focus on in 2021, so it’s important to pay attention to the changing behavior landscape. We can help you understand how your digital ecosystem is performing, take a deeper dive into business analytics to help you reach your KPIs and help you pivot your marketing strategies as needed. 

It’s not enough to personalize the user experience, you also have to pay attention to your unique business needs. Making changes to the way you operate can be daunting, but keep your customer top of mind every step of the way. This approach can help you continue building upon existing trends to ensure you’re future-proofing your business for anything that 2021 may bring.

So Long and Farewell 2020

While it’s been a tough year for all, we’re optimistic to report growth and the emergence of new digital trends amidst a year of challenges for businesses and consumers alike. Our marketing consultants can help set you up for success in your upcoming endeavors. Don’t just recap the past, schedule a consultation with GNW Consulting to reformularize your strategy for the continued success of your business well into the future.