2021 Marketing Trends Your Brand Needs to Know

2021 marketing trends

Now that 2021 is here, we thought it would be a great time to share with you eight of the top 2021 marketing trends we have identified internally:

  1. Brand Benevolence
  2. Remote Collaboration Maturity
  3. Ecommerce Supremacy
  4. Social Commerce
  5. Esports Marketing
  6. Digital Clothing
  7. Augmented Reality
  8. Video Marketing

If you want to know how these 2021 marketing trends can help your marketing team get ahead in the new year, keep reading.


Trend #1 — Brand Benevolence

Amid the global pandemic, recession, and societal outcry 2020 brought upon us all, brands had to re-evaluate their stance and how they react to the turmoil.

Rather than stopping marketing campaigns completely, brands changed tac and focused on philanthropic initiatives.

For example:

  • Beauty brands like L’Oréal and Ralph Lauren pledged to create much-needed hospital products, including face masks and hand sanitizer:

 

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A post shared by Allbirds (@allbirds)

While these may not be considered true marketing efforts, it shows consumers that brands care. As consumers become more hypervigilant, brands have to adjust their marketing strategies.

One thing’s for sure: the brands that look after their customers — and, consequently, the brands that consumers trust most — will be the ones that survive the crises and keep building leadership in 2021.


Trend #2 — Remote Collaboration Maturity

The pandemic resulted in one of the largest social experiments in history, forcing many professionals to work from home — and organizations to shift to remote workflows — for the first time.

Once the pandemic is behind us, it seems likely that some workers will return to the office while others will remain in a remote setup.

Naturally, some sectors, like customer service, marketing, sales, and information technology (IT), are more suited to remote work than others, such as emergency services and manufacturing. But even some office-based firms, such as investment bank JPMorgan, want employees back in the office.

A 2020 study by Gartner found that 82% of business leaders say their organizations intend to let employees continue working from home at least some of the time, while 47% plan to allow employees to do so permanently.

2021 marketing trends remote collaboration maturity

Firms like Fujitsu and Twitter have already announced plans to make remote work a permanent option after the pandemic.

Even more likely is the fact that many teams will keep in place — and even refine and optimize — the remote collaboration processes born out of that time apart by sticking to the tools and best practices they came to use daily, regardless of their work configuration (onsite, at home or both) in 2021.


Trend #3 — Ecommerce Supremacy

According to Statista, global retail ecommerce sales are set to increase from $3.5 trillion in 2019 to $6.5 trillion by 2023:

2021 marketing trends ecommerce supremacy globale sales

Fueled by the pandemic, the stock price of ecommerce platforms like Amazon and Shopify has rocketed:

2021 marketing trends ecommerce supremacy shopify stock price

This accelerated growth is forcing major players to extend their ecommerce programs, like Walmart Plus rivaling Amazon Prime. Simultaneously, smaller businesses are also jumping on the ecommerce bandwagon and setting up online stores.

According to Modern Retail, here are the nine ecommerce trends to look out for in 2021:

  1. Premium private label brands
  2. Offline ecommerce
  3. Shoppable TV
  4. AI customer sourcing
  5. ReCommerce
  6. P2P and rentals
  7. Advanced customization
  8. Fulfillment
  9. Smart home assistants

Some usage shifts precipitated by the pandemic in 2020 will persist in 2021 as the new norm.


Trend #4 — Social Commerce

Shoppable posts, built-in product catalogs, and native payment systems are just some of the many technological advancements, along with usage evolutions, that will transition us from window shopping to shopping on social media in 2021.

Facebook is currently leading the social commerce field with:

2021 marketing trends social commerce instagram

Pinterest is also becoming a true social commerce platform, allowing you to create “Product Pins”, which are displayed in your brand’s Pinterest Shop:

2021 marketing trends social commerce pinterest

When customers click on an item, they’re transferred to an ecommerce site to complete the sale.

As each platform appeals to a different demographic, it’s no surprise that Snapchat and TikTok are also experimenting with social commerce.

Brands can use social commerce platforms to:

  • Connect with users directly.
  • Sell products to customers without them having to leave the platform.
  • Build on the trust provided by an established platform.
  • Retarget customers who have already expressed interest in products.

For consumers, the biggest benefit of social commerce is that it’s frictionless. They can browse their social feed, see something they like, and make an instant purchase without being redirected to another website.

As the amount of time spent on social media increases, so too will social commerce.


Trend #5 — Esports Marketing

With more tournaments and bigger prize funds, esports was already snowballing before the pandemic, while established brands had already seized the opportunity to reach new audiences.

When traditional forms of entertainment — think TV, sports, and concerts — went into hiatus in 2020, many individuals turned to new hobbies, including gaming, boosting the size of the market addressable through this new channel:

2021 marketing trends esports marketing change in consumer behavior

Further data from Statista predicts that the global esports market revenue will reach almost 1.6 billion U.S. dollars in 2023:

2021 marketing trends esports marketing market size

Statista also estimates that brands will spend approximately 1.2 billion U.S. dollars on esports sponsorships and advertising in 2020.

All of the marketing and research data suggests that the esports market will continue to grow for brands who fit the demographic:

Speaking on episode 1 of The Brand Moat podcast, Felix LaHaye said, “Generally speaking, it’s more like age 18 to 34 is your core. Possibly 25 to 45 is okay. But if it’s a bit older, generally not. It’s just that 75% of esports fans are between 18 and 34, 10% are over 34, and 15% are below 18.”

In 2021, more and more non-endemic brands, such as Bud Light and Luis Vuitton, will turn to esports marketing to expand their audiences.


Trend #6 — Digital Clothing

“Designers are producing photorealistic, digital-only clothing collections — and customers are buying in.”Vogue Business

If you’ve not yet encountered digital clothing, think of it as an OOTD (Outfit Of The Day) that you can source as an in-app purchase without leaving your home.

Instead of buying “real clothes”, you send the online retailer your photo, and their 3D designers “digitally fit” the look onto you, ready to post on social media.

The world’s first piece of “digital couture” was sold at a charity auction for $9,500. The iridescent, translucent one-piece was designed by Amber Jae Slooten, creative director at The Fabricant, to be fitted onto a photo of the owner.

2021 marketing trends digital clothing first piece of digital couture

Source: The world’s first piece of ‘digital couture’, which sold at a charity auction for $9,500, and designed by Amber Jae Slooten, creative director at The Fabricant.

In a way, this trend lies at the frontier of social commerce and esports marketing, in the form of pixel-only pieces of apparel that you will never touch or feel and instead wear online only.

As Matthew Drinkwater, head of the Fashion Innovation Agency at London College of Fashion told Elle:

“Fortnite fans rack up millions of dollars on skins for their avatars. And the fashion industry is only just beginning to realize that there might be an opportunity there for virtual content.”

Boosted by broader supply (more brands joining the movement) and demand (more people staying home while hanging on social media), 2021 could be the year digital clothing blooms into a new fashion avenue.


Trend #7 — Augmented Reality

If digital goods are not your cup of tea, and you prefer actual products, augmented reality (AR) is going to make it easier than ever to “try before you buy”.

For example, the Goat app lets you try on coveted sneaker styles with AR. Simply tilt your phone downwards to make the latest Nike Dunks or Air Jordans magically appear on your feet:

2021 marketing trends augmented reality goat app

Nike also uses AR technology to measure your feet so that you can buy sneakers that fit. Nike says it can measure each foot individually — the size, shape, and volume — with accuracy within 2 millimeters:

2021 marketing trends augmented reality ar technology

No more wondering how the shoes will look on you — look and try before you buy.

But it’s not just footwear, though.

AR can be used to help customers visualize how furniture will look in their homes. They can check what types of furniture fit into their space without it being too cramped and see which colors complement or clash with existing furnishings.

Houzz is one of the top AR apps for planning interior layouts and design, and also allows users to browse and buy products in-app. Its “View in My Room” feature uses AR technology to place products into a photo of the user’s home and even shows what the product will look like in different lighting:

2021 marketing trends augmented reality houzz

Cosmetics is another prime user of AR technology.

For instance, Sephora’s Virtual Artist app scans your face, figures out where your lips and eyes are, and lets you try virtual makeup on at home:

2021 marketing trends augmented reality sephora virtual artist

Similarly, YouCam Makeup allows shoppers to test makeup from many of the major brands with AR technology:

2021 marketing trends augmented reality youcam makeup

The latest stats confirm how AR is changing the ecommerce landscape:

From placing a sofa in your living room to fitting new sneakers on your feet or applying makeup, then chances are, you will preview more and more items through the lens of your smartphone before you actually get them delivered to your front door in 2021.


Trend #8 — Video Marketing

From the meteoric rise of TikTok to the introduction of Instagram Reels, the constant growth of YouTube, and the evolution of LinkedIn, video is taking the stage front and center.

Zenith estimates that the average person will spend 100 minutes every day watching online videos in 2021 — almost 19% more compared to 2019:

2021 marketing trends video marketing global ad spend

According to CustomerThink, video marketing is expected to become the most effective digital marketing trend in 2021:

  • It makes people SEE your brand.
  • It makes people HEAR
  • It helps people UNDERSTAND your brand’s ideas.

Moreover, the types of video expected to excel in 2021 include:

  • Animated explainer videos — short branded videos (on average, under 1-minute) commonly used to describe a product or services quickly and creatively, allowing a brand to reveal its unique personality through custom illustration and animation styles. For example, Spotify’s animated explainer video:
  • 2D and 3D animated commercials — ultra-powerful videos for customer engagement and loyalty used in social media advertising, trade shows, product demos, and landing pages. For example, Safari’s animated TV commercial:
  • The mix of animation and live-motion — like the concept of AR except the live-motion video is “augmented” with animated characters or environments. Allows a brand to introduce its ideas in the most surprising contexts. For example, PayPal’s commercial video:
  • Whiteboard marketing videos — used for event promotion, product marketing, and general brand advertising. For example, Coca-Cola’s whiteboard video:

As 4K cameras become more mainstream and 5G rolls out, bringing higher quality video and faster streaming to the masses, respectively, content marketing and advertising through video will continue to become the new gold standard.


2021 Marketing Trends in a Nutshell

2021 will be a great year for marketing teams and brands that adapt to the post-pandemic changes.

Let’s quickly recap the 2021 marketing trends we predict we will see:

  1. Brand Benevolence
  2. Remote Collaboration Maturity
  3. Ecommerce Supremacy
  4. Social Commerce
  5. Esports Marketing
  6. Digital Clothing
  7. Augmented Reality
  8. Video Marketing
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