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Idea Digital - 12 January 2021

Skyfall? 5 Marketing Trends in 2021



Eunice Goh
By Eunice Goh



SKYFALL? No, I’m not referring to the James Bond movie. But similar to Skyfall, where Bond was put through both physical and emotional wringers, 2020 has been an emotional year due to the global physical lockdown caused by COVID-19!


Global advertising spend is predicted to fall by 7.5% to US$587bn in 2020 (Zenith's Advertising Expenditure Forecasts), and the global economy is expected to plunge into the worst recession since World War 2.


It's not all doom and gloom. Zenith predicts that global ad spend will bounce back by 5.6% to $620bn in 2021. Here are the marketing trends to look ahead for in 2021, as COVID-19 has shifted the way we work, live and socialize, likely forever.



Digital Transformation 

The world is adjusting to a new lifestyle as COVID-19 fast-tracked digital transformation. This has put the growth of e-commerce, video conferencing, virtual events, and Advanced TV on steroids. 



Eunice Goh



The growth of e-commerce has come fast and furious during the pandemic. There's no turning back now since customers have experienced a wide range of products, special festivals, live streams and value-added services from Shopee, Lazada, Taobao, etc. Also, e-commerce platforms are aggressively pursuing major brands to set up virtual shops and even acting as consultants for brands and agencies for their e-commerce strategies. Examples include Lazada’s Preferred Partner Program with GroupM and the Shopee Media Agencies Partner Program with media agencies from the other "big five" holding groups.


Also, Facebook has just announced it will buy Kustomer to enhance its recent move to social e-commerce. Google and TikTok are partnering with Shopify to set up e-commerce hubs on YouTube and TikTok, respectively. The competition will intensify as Facebook, Google, and TikTok jump on the e-commerce bandwagon. 


Zoom fatigue is very real, especially for video conferencing and virtual events which lasted for hours! We human beings are social creatures; we crave in-person connection. On the other hand, video conferencing and virtual events encourage inclusiveness as more people can participate. Expect future events to be hybrid—in-person and virtual. For instance, "The Front Row", Singapore's first virtual fashion week supported by Enterprise Singapore, and produced by AP Media will be going hybrid next year!


Audiences are increasingly turning their attention to Advanced TV, thanks to players like Netflix, Apple TV, Viu, iQIYI, Disney+, and HBO Max. This year’s trends have changed the TV landscape forever. We can look forward to more innovations and partnerships on the programmatic TV front in 2021 as more streaming services and tech partners come into play. 



The biggest challenge in 2021 will probably be using personalized data to target ads and measure attribution. Apple is making IDFA redundant. Google, the last line of defense for cookies, seeks to eliminate them from Chrome by the end of 2021. According to Epsilon, 54% of marketers feel underprepared for the change. 

Eunice Goh



Now, advertisers and publishers will have to find new ways to reach customers. A few tech solutions have already been discussed: collecting first-party data, building customer data platforms (CDPs), building out a private ID graph, and getting a data clean room. 


Brands not ready to build tech infrastructure will have to look at media solutions such as walled garden, Connected TV, contextual advertising and programmatic solutions with a people-based identity. 


Regardless of the strategies, personalization will be key to earning customers' trust and loyalty. 



Trust and Brand Purpose 

71% of respondents indicated that trusting a brand is more important today than in the past, and 80 percent want brands to 'solve society's problems,' according to The Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report 2020.


Brand purpose has long been a buzzword in the industry. Today's customers are becoming more vocal and demanding brands take real actions to earn their trust. "Businesses that don't deliberately try to do something good by addressing a specific social or environmental concern in their community, no matter how big or small, are going to find themselves irrelevant in the coming years," says Matthew McCarthy, CEO of Ben & Jerry's.



Eunice Goh



Marketers who did not have a brand purpose or were just winging it will have to think hard on what resonates with their brands and their customers. The social dilemma, climate change, mental health, diversity and inclusion are top-of-mind concerns for people globally. 



Targeting the Next Generation 

Millennials and Gen Z account for over half of the world population, and they are fast becoming decision-makers. It is not a question of why target, but how to effectively target them. 


Deloitte research reveals that "in the face of unprecedented health and economic disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, millennials and Gen Z express resolve and a vision to build a better future." This again points to the importance for brands to have a purpose that contributes to the public good, and all actions and communications should echo that purpose.



Eunice Goh



So what is the next generation interested in, and where can we target them? BCG reported that since the pandemic, 62% spend more time on social media, 70% spend more time on video streaming, and 59% spend more time gaming. This explains the rise of TikTok, influencers, esports and mobile gaming. Since each person and platform is different, there's no one-size-fits-all solution. Brands need to personalize their strategies and work with various partners to customize their messaging. 




"Advertising is based on one thing: happiness. And do you know what happiness is? Happiness is the smell of a new car. It's freedom from fear. It's a billboard on the side of a road that screams with reassurance that whatever you're doing is OK. You are OK." Don Draper, Mad Men



Eunice Goh



The billboard may have changed into a digital board. But some things never change! Whether in the Mad Men era or the current digital age, we are all looking for happiness! So how can marketers provide happiness to customers? Brands need to get back to the core, "to build a better mousetrap," AKA products or services. But don’t expect the world to beat a path to your door without purposeful marketing.


Let the sky and cookies fall. When they crumble, we will stand tall. Face it all together.      -






Eunice Goh is a sales and marketing practitioner based in Singapore. Currently with AP media as a marketing consultant, she had served as senior director at ONE Esports and regional director at CNBC.





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