Top marketing trends for a brighter 2021
2021 could be a great year! We are feeling very bullish about the Year of the Ox, and we think that sentiment is going to spread. News of effective COVID-19 vaccines, a more stable government in the US, are both exciting news for the global economy, and for Asia’s thriving hub cities.
Bounce Back Budgets
The biggest trend for 2021 will be the “bounce back budget” for marketing and sales. The organisations that do best in the recovery will be those who are poised and ready to take advantage of the strengthening in purchasing intentions along global and local supply chains. There will be suppressed demand from government spending, as they seek to rebalance budgets. And there will be a lot of consumers who will be more financially unstable. But we think the signs are good that business sentiment will quickly recover and overshoot, leading to more spending.
The trick will be knowing when and where this bullish sentiment will happen, so you can target your marketing and sales budgets quickly. And convincing your Finance Director that you can deliver results.
Being responsive will be more important than ever in 2021. Finance directors will be all over budgets, looking for ways to stay lean. So marketing and sales professionals need to focus on ROI. This is likely to mean more evidence-based marketing, understanding your customers and responding quickly to changes from them.
We expect to see a lot of organisations vying in every market to release new products and services, so there will be competition. Expect some red water, and get ready to turn your campaign on its head at the click of a finger.
And branded merchandise is ideal for this: promotional gifts and company souvenirs are highly adaptable. They tend to carry your brand rather than a specific advertising message, so your campaign messaging can switch significantly and the gifts will still achieve their impact.
We have said it before, but relationships are the key. And everyone has realised just how important those relationships are. During the pandemic we have all seen how customers are less likely to switch to new vendors as there is less ability for face-to-face. An emotional connection – e.g. built upon love, trust, reliance, etc. – will deliver much stronger ROI.
So marketing budgets will need to focus on building relationships, and making those relationships work at a distance. This is an ideal reason to consider branded merchandise, which continues to work hard at the relationship long after the sales person has left the room. The typical length of time that a customer will keep a promotional gift is 6-9 months, which is a lot of contact!
Virtual Work, Meetings and Conferences
When your grandmother is organising Zoom meetings then you know technology has been widely adopted! Adoption of virtual conferencing has exploded during the pandemic, forcing huge sections of society to adopt new technologies and working practices rapidly. Organisations of all types have adapted quickly to remote working. We predict the amount of remote working will decrease but will still remain a major feature of working life, so marketing will need to adapt.
We predict an increase in virtual events, and organisations will introduce more consistent remote working policies. Marketing professionals are going to do 3 key things:
- Bridge the divide of physical and digital – there will be less meetings and events, so you will need to achieve much more “bang for the buck” with each one.
- Boost virtual meeting capabilities – you are going to have to get a decent webcam and know how to use it, as 1-2-1 video calls will be critical meeting opportunities. And start looking into the capabilities of virtual event platforms so you can get into the market early.
- Upgrade your data-management – With more remote and home working, customer and prospect databases are going to need to be re-thought. If you are sending an Attendee Pack to virtual conference attendees, you may need to hold multiple addresses, and even personal information. Data management strategies and consents will need to be upgraded.
Corporate gifts can help you create really impactful virtual conferences and make a link between the digital and physical world. In particular, they give your customers some physical evidence.
Keep and Eye on New Technologies
There are several new technologies that we think will be really exciting, and they might land fully in 2021. The main one is Augmented/Virtual Reality – blending digital content with real world data and images. BrandHK have been offering AR and VR along with promotional gifts for a few years, but the standards are not quite there in terms of support by all devices. 2021 could be the year that changes, and that will create exciting new marketing opportunities. Start looking into it now so you understand the uses in advance!
Whatever may have happened in the world of politics, the world of business has continued to progress standards of corporate responsibility. 2021 is going to see this advance more quickly as the world starts to adapt more rapidly to the threats of climate change, habitat loss, economic inequality and public health crises. We are likely to see the US re-join the Paris Agreement, China’s environmental protections have been significantly strengthened, and the EU has just published a landmark strategy for the environment.
Marketeers will need to build sustainability into their strategies in a meaningful way, reflecting the fact buyers will have more stringent purchasing rules.
Branded merchandise is very useful for building responsibility into your marketing mix. We can use products that not only reduce harmful impacts (e.g. using recycled or non-plastic materials), but can help customers to change their behaviours for the better (e.g. re-usable water bottles, solar chargers).
We wish you a thriving, exciting, prosperous and thoroughly wonderful 2021!