2021: First step into new world order


Home is the new market and the biggest focus of brands.

By Amit Raj

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Published: Mon 21 Dec 2020, 5:26 PM

New normal is not a befitting term for this extraordinary year. There was nothing normal about it to begin with, we have seen a complete shift in the way we lived and the way we have known life. A life that was all about expansion has suddenly gotten cocooned. As an aftermath, people have shown stark tensions and contradictions; from social empathy and a sense of community to a "me first" attitude of self-interest; from risk aversion to compulsive behaviour; from cautious spending and "less stuff", to indulgence spending and comfort clutter.

When we thought consumers were all going to be cautious and spend less, there emerged the "revenge buyers" who got indulgent to cover for the loss of time. Then there were the monks who sold their Ferrari and realised less is more. On media front, shoppability will continue to be a key consideration for media spends. The least steps to conversion is the new mantra. Consumer loyalty is at an all-time low, which is giving category leaders sleepless nights and an opportunity for small players to move in. In an Amazon world, consumers are hardly making the choice the first brand in search has the highest chance to be bought. 'E-commerce ready' has been the oft used word in the marketing world, distribution, which was until now not a marketing role, has been plugged into their responsibilities. We see reduced gap between marketing and distribution, to the extent delivery and packaging becomes key touchpoints for brands and an important media tool to deliver on an experience.

Typical of being cocooned, media is personal now and home is the market. We saw emergence of personal content space, YouTube, Tiktok, Netflix, and gaming all highlight the "me first" world and media experts will have to find a way to micro target as never before. There has been a surge in screen sales in the last few months. Personal TVs to laptops have been priority buys. 

So, are these permanent traits or passing phase? Worst estimate says it will take four years to get back to regular ways and optimistic estimate is two years. Far too long or enough time for behavioural changes to become permanent.

As far as 2021 is considered, HOME will be the space of focus for marketers

 If things are going permanent, how do we see next year shaping up.

1. Enhancing home lifestyle is a priority for consumers: Home as the centre of life is not going to change for a long time. OTT platforms are moving fast and we, in the communication industry, need to keep a close watch for partnership opportunities. Content that can enhance home lifestyle is another space and a big opportunity for us.

2.  Local is a key consideration for travel, retail and beyond; besides the adventurous ones most of us will be vary of travelling. Agora has launched a local market special segment given this expected surge. Retail especially the fashion and electronics are expected to gain next year. Consumers had an option of getting better value back home or during their global trips, it's only local retail for now.

3. Brands lose access to audience information: With the cookie restrictions coming in place next year, we will see many clients going for DTC targeting. This will ensure first level data, which is useful for future digital campaign buildup and audience understanding.

4.  It's all about performance next year. In an effort to bridge the gap most clients will be focusing on performance. A study done recently indicates most investment cuts happening on brand advertising and agency and vendor fees. While performance investment will be least impacted. Clearly shows, agencies will have to link ourselves to client performance to stay relevant. 

5. We should expect investment spike in new age media options video, mobile, influencers and gaming. While TV, radio and OOH is going to maintain spends the biggest losers are estimated to be cinema, events and print media.

Frankly, no one can really predict about the hugely fluid future. While preparedness has always been the armor of strategists, but the question is how do one prepare when fundamentals are shifting. I would see the one who emerges victorious would be the one who is extremely agile, least reflective on past, flexible and has the right attitude. Then again, after being cocooned what emerges is a beautiful butterfly and I truly hope it's true for humans as well.



Amit Raj is the head of planning-GM at BPG MAX


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