Changes already underway for brands a year ago will only accelerate in 2021

There are a lot of words that could be used to describe 2020 – “unprecedented”, for example; “Pandemic” is an obvious choice. But if you’re a brand, the word that best sums up the year is “pivot”.

The pivot is precisely what brands big and small and in all categories have had to do from March. The marketing community has come together around the need for quick adjustments and revisions. This was an impressive accomplishment, as the brand world is huge, encompassing companies that make the products we desperately need in times of crisis. toilet paper– and the ones we sure don’t like, as much as we love them (looking at you, $ 1,000 handbags).

All the brands seemed to realize that the trends that were steadily emerging on the horizon were much closer than they had expected. Marketing directors started the year by focusing on the consumer, creating more personalized experiences for them, giving them a variety of ways to access their brands, and championing the causes and issues they believe in. The events of 2020 have not changed them. priorities but, rather, made them paramount.

“Many brands have said they are incredibly customer-centric,” says Jared Fink, Group Director, Experience at Siegel + Gale. “[In 2020], this has been put to the test.

Where we are now

Brands provide services we hardly used before the pandemic – how many weddings were on Zoom before 2020? – as well as those that looked like something from another life. (It wasn’t a great year to sell transatlantic flights.)

The events of 2020 have highlighted how varied the positioning of these different sectors is and, consequently, what pivot points they have been forced to make. Companies such as Lysol and Clorox exploded in 2020, thanks to unprecedented demand for their products, forcing them to step up production. This allowed them to increase their advertising budgets, which Clorox did three times in 2020, including a 30% increase in the last quarter of the year.

Other 2020 success stories, like Zoom, which saw its mobile app downloads increase 728% from March through April, also invested more in advertising. Zoom allocated $ 100.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2020, up $ 45 million from the previous year.

But the chaos of the pandemic has resulted in more calamity than positivity. Travel brands are the most prominent example, with declining demand and revenues. This had an impact on their ad spending: Very few airlines ran TV commercials in 2020 except Southwest, which was often the only airline commercial on TV. Retail, outside of giants like Amazon, Target and Walmart, has also been hit hard, with 38 retailers and restaurants declaring bankruptcy, including J.Crew, Neiman Marcus and JCPenney, down from just 19 in 2019.

Where we are going

In 2021, brands will double their bets in 2020 – rolling out new loyalty programs, like Walmart +; adopt new methods of getting products into the hands of consumers, such as curbside pick-up or the launch of new direct-to-consumer channels; and test new advertising platforms such as TikTok or, for some brands, television (1,200 DTC brands first aired TV commercials in 2020, according to

And even in a future world where we meet more in person, the digital switchover will persist. IBM’s U.S. Retail Index reports that the pandemic has accelerated the shift from physical stores to e-commerce by five years. In 2021, this shift will continue, as brands embrace tactics such as live streaming to commerce, which has already made waves in China, and shopping on social media platforms, thanks to the 2020 debut of d ‘Instagram and Facebook Shops.

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