Any attempt at making predictions for 2021, after one of the most tumultuous years in modern memory are difficult - especially since we’re still in the middle of a global pandemic. We have been forced to change our way of working, learning and shopping. Our need for digital tools has increased significantly and many of the processes we have taken for granted have morphed into hybrids: Work/home, retail/e-commerce, school/zoom, cinema/tv… Without further ado, let’s have a look at some focus areas and how they will affect us over the coming year.
Hardware we’ve been waiting for
Many hyped technologies will be reaching the market in earnest. 5G is being rolled out and will lead to new web-based applications that can benefit from greatly increased data transfer speeds and low latency. LIDAR sensors in mobile phones will mean greater AR precision. Apples new chipset has already caused a stir among rivals such as Intel. Foldable phones and screens will be a challenge for UX developers.
Social shopping FTW
Disinformation efforts will shift from the US election to Covid-19, where there are national interests at stake in the mass vaccination race. Influencers are still going to play a vital role for marketers, not least in the livestream shopping space, where Swedish developer Bambuser is facing stiff competition from leading platforms such as Instagram. Video bloggers will still be filming their locked-down everyday lives, at least until travel restrictions are lifted so they can resume their jetsetting luxury way of making a living.
Focus on You
CDP, or Customer Data Platform is an acronym we’ll be seeing a lot of. A CDP collects and coordinates data about each customer from multiple sources, in a “360 degree view”. Marketers are facing the death of third-party cookies, which are the cookies that advertising networks and other parties place on a website to track how a user moves around the internet. They have been hugely important for retargeting and other mainstays of internet marketing, but will be blocked in all major browsers by 2022. This means that first-party information about customers will be marketing gold. Lockdown has made personal development through online channels more popular than ever, with some leading sites such as Coursera experiencing a fourfold increase in enrolled students. This is very likely to continue.
B2B - accelerating towards digital
The pandemic has forced many businesses to forgo their traditional sales processes in favour of digital or digitally assisted ones. “Zoom shirts” are in fashion. Virtual trade shows - even as huge as CES - have been held with some success. Digital contract-signing is becoming more accepted. The disruption of the past year will force many businesses to rethink their office strategies as well, since many employees want to continue working part of the week from home. Maybe the office of the future will be a social space with a few workplaces available to share.
Brands and D2C
Many brands are having to strengthen their communication towards their customers, focusing even more on values and social responsibility. Cost-cutting by selling direct to end customers and offering superior shopping experiences and empathy are now both more common and have the added benefit of generating a lot of first-person data. Shopify, a popular ecommerce platform for D2C has posted a huge increase in clients during the pandemic.
In sum, a lot of the trends that we have seen during 2020 will become the new normal, and there are probably lots of new digital innovations in store!
David Aler, Strategist