Where will we go from here? How do we even start to identify the most important trends for 2021?
First, identify those macro cultural shifts that will evolve with the consumer. Here are some of the themes that will have the greatest long-term impact on culture and the ways brands engage.
The human algorithm
Reaching the consumer is no longer driven by algorithms defined solely by behaviors. With the shift to quarantine life and an ongoing cultural crisis, there has come an unprecedented stress surge. Consumers want technology that allows them to live in the now, stress-free—and expect brands to leverage tech like voice-control, AI and mixed reality to solve their pain points and provide ease and convenience to their day-to-day.
Opportunity: Emotional connection through tech means brands moving their virtual engagements with consumers from transactional to emotional. How can technology be used to align your brand values and purpose with that of the consumer? Think human first, tech second. AI (apps, wearables and implants) steps in to manage everything from our moods to our companions.
There is a heightened distrust of organizations and with that consumer safety—physical, mental, emotional and digital—matters more than ever. From racial injustice to climate change, there is a need for brands to address safety holistically, which means protecting data privacy, mental health, factual accuracy and initiating social impact work that addresses cultural crisis.
Opportunity: There is a call for “whole brand thinking,” evolving brands towards consumer-facing communications around empathy and support for workers, other businesses and the community at large. It’s up to brands to lead with human-centric solutions that meet consumers where they are. Today, consumers are driven by the need to understand, which has led to an inquisition of truth and desire to ensure history is reflected accurately, while shedding prejudice and broken systems.
There is a newfound appreciation for the expansiveness of time, the moments, the use, the preservation and the recollection. The consumer reality today has led to little or no division of time or space. We are living, working, socializing and being entertained from home. This is not only resulting in the true integration of our identities, but a holistic approach to life, values and priorities.
Opportunity: Consumers are focused on being intentional by grounding their time in the people, activities and experiences that reflect appreciation, balance, tradition and their personally defined success metrics. Nostalgia has often played an important role engaging the consumer by leveraging shared historical context. It is important to note that the concept of nostalgia has moved beyond simply recreating something from the past for modern times into providing a deeper understanding of historical accuracy and relevance to personal identity.
All of these cultural themes intersect through the consumer’s need to slow down, connect and shift our attention to what matters most. Brands that lead with human-centric solutions that meet consumers where they are and amplify and align with the stories consumers are trying to tell are the ones that will win their hearts.