“If 2020 was a time when it became untenable for any marketer to avoid the deeply polarizing issues that upended life around the globe, from racial justice to sustainability to politics, 2021 forced a grand level of clarification about what a brand ultimately means.” — David Kaplan, Adweek
We’re seeing a radical change in consumer behavior. And we’ve had more change in the last two years than the last decade.
People are more willing than ever to buy from brands that resonate with them because of identity, geography, company values, purpose, and/or sustainability.
As we settle into "the new normal," brand affinity is no longer driven by pure product preference. Literally everything in 2021 — from deodorant to to car purchases — reflected a deeper meaning.
According to the Shopify eCommerce Market Credibility Study, a commissioned survey conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Shopify, people are 4x more likely to purchase from a company with strong brand values. And a whopping 77% are concerned about the environmental impact of the products they buy. They’re willing to spend more money and accept slower shipping times — for the right brand.
In the world of e-commerce, rising customer acquisition costs, and the death of third party cookies, businesses will be forced to think long term — strengthening the customer relationships to survive. As new commercial opportunities emerge on the biggest social platforms, brands will have to get comfortable with experimentation…or get left behind.
This is the year of competing not on price, but on brand proposition.
Differentiate and diversify.
Prepare to invest more in your customer experience, and build a community that keeps customers coming back.
Further, in a world where marketplaces dominate (ex: Amazon, Alibaba, Instagram commerce, etc), and search is often unbranded, brand-building has never been more important — or more difficult. With the global e-commerce market expected to be worth $24.3 trillion by 2025, marketplaces are already the next wave of retail growth.
Nisha Dua, Co-founder and General Partner, BBG Ventures, asks The Question perfectly: “As Instagram and Facebook get more competitive, can we own that customer relationship on multiple channels so we’re known as an individual brand, not just something on a third-party marketplace? And that means TikTok, Pinterest, and new channels like Discord, Fortnite, and Animal Farm.”
And don’t forget about the magic of in-person experiences: in-store shopping is ramping up again. But it’s not about one or the other — consumers want it all. These days, commerce is omnichannel.
According to a recent report from Accenture, 81 percent of consumers who bought a name brand product on Amazon recalled the product detail page (PDP) three months later. Yet only 28 percent remembered the television commercial. It signals how much digital has extended customer-brand relationships. Put simply, the creative story cannot end with traditional media. The brand essence must be present across every interaction point with customers, making it more important than ever to extend the brand story across marketplaces.
Big brands are embracing a role as content-driven social communities, through direct investment. Kraft Heinz will invest $100M more in marketing in 2021 vs. 2019, including its new “What’s Cooking” digital platform for food creators to share content, interact with audiences, and collaborate with other creators.
While it might seem intimidating, there is a lot of opportunity:
Winter Mendelson is the Founder and Executive Creative Director of Posture Media, an independent branding and marketing studio based in Brooklyn.
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