Community get-togethers, festivals and expos have always played a significant role in keeping brands attuned to their consumers.
In 2020, however, it’s been nigh-on impossible to get businesses and their loyal community in the same room. Ever resourceful in the face of adversity, events like Comic Con have had been agile enough to adjust to virtual ‘at-home’ experiences. Using online platforms and initiatives to substitute or support in-person meets is something we will likely see from brands, stores and cultural institutions in the months to come. Virtual experiences allow brands to bring customers together and create a sense of community without the costs of a huge gathering.
Streaming is going from strength to strength, and 2021 will likely take us one step closer to the eradication of traditional, linear television viewing. The BBC reports that the UK is spending 31% more time streaming while upwards of 22 million new subscribers have joined Netflix this year.
This, combined with the movement of high profile films like Trolls: World Tour and Mulan to streaming services due to the pandemic, and we can safely assume that the streaming domination will only grow in 2021.
Once upon a time, consumers would pay more for name brands. In some industries, this is still the case, but we’re increasingly seeing instances of customers foregoing brands they recognise in favour of cheaper alternatives.
And there is no clearer example of this than in the supermarket industry. Food discounters like Aldi and Lidl grew by 17.3 percent and 13 percent respectively during lockdown, according to License Global.
Consumers are beginning to not only appreciate, but expect personalised shopping experiences and data-driven recommendations. Love or loathe the idea of it, artificial intelligence is essential for delivering this tailored service. And while A.I. has been on the rise for a few years now, its growth and influence will only to continue as we enter 2021, providing ever-closer consumer and brand relationships.
Given that physical stores have spent much of this year closed, it’s no surprise that the digital economy has continued to grow in 2020. Further growth is almost assured in 2021, as the nature of local lockdowns and social distancing has accelerated the transition to digital. Gaming has been one of the unsung heroes of the pandemic, with subscription services like PlayStation Plus providing instant access to high quality content. This is just one example of how subscription culture is growing in the UK. Retail Gazette reports that 57% of all British consumers have a subscription account.
As well as being a year that brought our health into question, 2020 has also been a year of passionate protests. The Black Lives Matter movement brought race relations into question like never before, in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. While it is undoubtedly a delicate subject matter and one that brands are having to negotiate with care, there is nevertheless a consumer expectation that their favourite brands demonstrate a strong moral compass and stand up for the things they value.
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