If we wrote a blog predicting anything about 2020, it’s safe to say that we would have gotten it all wrong. Who would have thought we’d go from cramming 30+ people into one house for holiday parties and Friendsgiving to celebrating with just our pets and maybe our significant others and children? Nevertheless, we feel pretty confident about what some of these marketing trends are going to look like in 2021, especially after living through almost an entire year of this craziness. We have lots of predictions to share, but we can’t fit it all into one blog. So, today we are going to keep it general with our marketing trend predictions. Without further ado:

The TikTok party won’t stop

TikTok isn’t just an app for your 12-year-old niece anymore. Like Millennials when their parents started joining MySpace and Facebook, Gen Z may be a bit miffed that adults are encroaching on their online space. Especially during lockdown, older audiences found themselves downloading “This TikTok thing just to see what it’s all about,” only to stop scrolling six hours later wondering where the whole day went. TikTok is definitely here to stay. (While we currently don’t offer TikTok as an option for our clients because of a few concerns we have, we are continually monitoring their ad options to see when/if it will be right for clients in the future.)

There are a couple of insights revealed in the popularity of TikTok – it’s what makes the platform so addictive. Audiences appreciate short bursts of entertainment – a reflection of our ever-shortening attention spans. And personalization works. Are animal videos your thing? Do catchy dance moves lift your mood? Craving new recipes? Life hacks that will blow your mind? It’s all about learning your preferences and feeding you more of what you love. 

With Instagram’s Reels and Snapchat’s Spotlight, there’s speculation on which one of these will take TikTok down. Our prediction? They won’t. Just like Google+ tried to take on Facebook, they’ll eventually fade away after a few years. TikTok is a juggernaut, and we don’t believe it’s going anywhere. One major exception to this, though, is India, where TikTok is currently banned. If that isn’t reversed in 2021, we could see Reels being huge in the country.

A future with no cookies

Don’t panic. We don’t mean the kind you can eat. Those will always be there for us. 

Google announced that it will stop supporting third-party cookies in Chrome sometime in 2022, essentially killing off cookies, which track users from place to place on the internet. These are responsible for Facebook magically knowing that you were thinking about buying a pair of boots earlier and then showing you an ad for the same ones. 

One of the ways Hoffmann Murtaugh is preparing for a cookieless world is by launching a trading desk that houses rich proprietary data that we can use to target different audiences. We will also be closely monitoring data providers and industry oversight bodies on the development of a new targeting methodology.

eCommerce goes (even more) social

With the introduction of Instagram’s shopping tab (which caused a panic when it replaced the notifications tab during a late 2020 redesign), more customers will be purchasing things through social media apps themselves, rather than traditional store websites. Identifying the apps your audiences engage with and establishing a presence there will become even more important for DTC brands.

With 50% of people saying they won’t buy from a company that has a poorly designed mobile site, coupled with the fact that, well, we’ve all got a tiny computer in our pockets that we make purchases on, it’s never been more critical for a site to have a good mobile version. Google has been preaching “Mobile first” for years, but as the pandemic has slowed in-store shopping, more and more folks who wouldn’t normally buy things online find themselves in a position where they need to. And if the site has terrible UI/UX on mobile? They’ll just go somewhere else.

Consumers want apps that store their payment information and are personalized based on past purchases so they can easily reorder. This also provides the opportunity for brands to use this data to generate personalized offers to increase repeat purchases and brand loyalty.

Customer COVID habits will continue

While some of us may feel a twinge of panic when watching pre-2020 television and seeing large gatherings (or even small gatherings!) of unmasked people, another major habit derived from the pandemic will stay in effect throughout most, if not all, of 2021: Delivery. Whether it’s for food via DoorDash or GrubHub, or groceries and other goods through Instacart and Shipt, customers are now expecting their favorite stores and restaurants to provide this service. 

Another interesting trend that has been happening since the pandemic started? Brands are using fewer photos of social interactions. 27.4% less, in fact! We predict this number will climb in 2021 until social distancing is a thing of the past. 

Companies will need to take a stand

Both Millennials and Gen Z (especially Gen Z!) place high importance on social issues and want to know their money is going to brands and companies that have similar values. According to a study done by Hootsuite: “Brands that demonstrate a positive impact on people’s lives grow 2.5 times more than brands with a low impact, have happier employees (9 in 10 employees would take a pay cut to have more meaningful work), and outperform the stock market by 134%.”

So, those are our marketing trend predictions for 2021. We plan to share more on our 2021 media predictions, but that will be for a later blog! We’re eager to see how many we got right! Here’s to a safe and happy New Year!