Looking ahead in times of change: Planning for 2021 - Vested

Looking ahead in times of change: Planning for 2021

There is no question that 2020 has been a time of change. These changes have been profound, fast, and are likely to endure as we emerge from this crisis into a decidedly ‘newer normal’. 

How, then, can we as a financial services industry, and marketers within it, look to engage with our audiences? What are they thinking and feeling? How have the events of this year shifted their values – and how will this set the tone for how we reach and engage with them going forward? 

These are the questions we put to our expert panel at our latest event – with behavioural psychologist Simon Moore; futurist William Higham; strategic forecaster, Paul Flatters; and Adrian Walcott, managing director from Brands With Values. The discussion explored a 360 degree view of the consumer landscape and the road ahead. Read on for our key takeaways and insights on how brands can start integrating these approaches today.

Emotional responsibility continues to drive relevance

All of the panelists agreed that emotionally responsible communications will remain key for brands, a continuation of the trend which emerged this year. Consumers will continue paying close attention to how socially responsible and ‘human’ brands are, and use their buying power accordingly. Those companies that have adjusted their comms to address the disruption and uncertainty of this year on a human level, will have achieved more than those which focused on price, service and product quality alone. 

This demonstrates the material impact and importance of being emotionally aware in your brands’ communications. With uncertainty set to continue at least into the first quarter of 2021, it is vital that brands don’t try to ‘snap back’ to pre-Coronavirus means of marketing.The shift towards a community mindset has been long-hailed, even before the times of Coronavirus and 2020 has accelerated it. The brands that are factoring humanity and emotions into their communications strategies are future-ready.

Consumers are not a numbers game

Since the drivers influencing consumers’ decision-making are more emotional than ever before, so too should the way brands target them be. Instead of grouping customers by demographics, brands should instead be looking at what motivates them. For example, are they looking for a sense of control or seeking reassurance? Understanding how to speak to each camp will be key.

Consumers have a reason to celebrate

News of potential vaccines has been a game changer in terms of consumer sentiment looking ahead to 2021: since the announcement, easyJet bookings are reportedly up 50%. And while there could yet be some difficulty with distribution of any potential vaccine, 2021 is speculated to be a year of celebration and reunion. This is not least because of the delayed 2020 Olympics and various postponed sporting events, but also as families and friends are able to come together once more and acknowledge many of the celebrations that have been missed.

…but the uncertainty is far from over

We must bear in mind that ‘normality’ may not be restored until next Winter and by then how much of the ‘normal’ we had before will consumers want back? When looking to the end of 2021, we will start to see a new tension emerge as decisions are made around how to pay off the record debts undertaken to keep economies afloat. 

Planning effectively for 2021 will require a longer-term view of how 2022 might play out too – so brands will need to temper how they communicate with consumers throughout next year, keeping in mind that more stressors may follow.

 If you missed the webinar, you can watch the recording here:


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