The year 2020 has been a year of massive unpredictability, but one constant was the demand for content. While industries, school systems and retail came to a halt, the consumption of digital content only increased. Many brands found themselves unprepared and unable to deliver new assets and experiences to their audiences, while few others embraced the new working environment and were able to continue to drive relevancy. As we move into 2021, how can we prepare for another year of the unknown?
The answer is to embrace the uncertainty and use it as a driving force to adopt more agile ways of working. As marketers we’ve been talking about transformation and the digital era for literally years, but Covid accelerated the need for this change. Welcoming the unknown and finding ways to prepare to operate in the midst of countless variables—that’s what modern marketing is all about.
Here are a few of our predictions for a post-Covid world, and how we as brands and marketers need to be prepared to respond.
Agility and empathy go hand in hand
Consumers are going through so much change and adversity, so brands now more than ever need to prioritise empathy and authenticity in their content. Brand content must provide value regardless of whether or not the key message is about a product or service, or if it's meant to be informative or entertaining. Either way, it has to serve a purpose.
Be clear about what role you want to play for your consumer and know that the role will likely change countless times by the end of the year. There will never be a shortage of creative ideas, but you must make sure you have the means to bring them to life quickly without sacrificing quality and meaning.
Global issues will bring cultures together, but local relevancy is still essential
From the global pandemic to social issues, 2020 has made the world feel a lot smaller. In addition to feeling more connected, we’re seeing global marketing leaders under pressure to cut costs and leverage resources in a smarter way. Brands are now focused on simplifying and bringing more control into the center. This means more consistency in campaigns and cutting back costs around global investment in assets.
While this move makes great business sense, an equally strong localisation plan is essential in order to deliver strategic value. Although we’re facing global issues, each culture, demographic and region has its own unique experiences. Bringing more control over content into the center can be done effectively only when it is backed by a strong adaptation and versioning strategy. This means combining translation, transcreation and cultural consultation to most effectively bring global content to life.
Brands need to think digital-first, because consumers already are
If Covid and 2020 proved digital is king then in 2021 we will see brands master digital-first content and campaigns. Integrated production is no longer about taking a TVC and adapting it to produce assets for social and digital. We are seeing more of our clients come to us with digital-first and digital-only campaigns and production needs. This will only increase the quality of these assets and campaigns, as they will be designed and produced with digital channels in mind. Whether it’s using CGI to bring a product to life or creating a virtual experience, on-screen consumption time is skyrocketing, and brands need to meet consumer demand for excellent experiences.
Smarter use of data to inform content
At this point consumers know marketers collect data and that platforms and brands can deliver customised experiences. And in times of crises or struggle, it’s even more important for brands to listen, collect information and use it in the best way possible to deliver value for consumers. The use of data to inform agile and empathy-driven content will be essential in 2021, and not just for the benefit of consumers.
We also expect brands to use data to make more informed decisions about their content and campaigns to maximize their investments. To make this possible, we suggest working with your production partner to ensure you’re able to gain insights around your asset production and pair that with media and performance data to deliver the most impactful experience for your target audiences with the least impact to your resources.
Melissa Chan is managing director APAC, CRAFT (McCann Worldgroup’s Production division)