Now we’ve got a few weeks of 2021 under our belts, it’s time to think about the changes we’ve seen over the last 12 months and what they might mean for the future of marketing.

Almost every single person on the planet has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic in some way, and this has been a huge catalyst in an already fast-changing industry.

Here’s what we’re going to see in the marketing strategies of 2021 and beyond.

User-generated content

People love to get involved and have their voices heard—that’s why social media is so popular.

Throughout 2020, many people were getting a little, well, bored. Being stuck in lockdown made people turn to more creative pastimes, participating in virtual quizzes, challenging each other to endless rounds of Taskmaster, and creating window displays with the kids to boost local morale. And it has to be said, the meme quality of 2020 was absolutely *chef’s kiss*.

There are millions of creative, hilarious and inspirational people out there, and they can work for your brand … for free. From giveaways and creative hashtag challenges to simply asking people to share their stories, there’s something utterly compelling about user-generated content, especially in light of the horrible shared experience of a global pandemic.

Virtual events

This time last year, comparatively few people had dipped their toes into the waters of virtual social events, Zoom meetings and remote offices.

However, 2020 pushed a lot of people head-first into the pool, and these remote interactions have become an ordinary part of our lives. And that’s where great marketing happens; integrating brands into these small moments that make up our daily routines.

Now consumers are used to attending virtual events, we can vastly expand audiences by creating additional opportunities for people to attend remotely. It also opens the doors to inviting guest speakers without paying for long-haul flights and hotel rooms, or holding conferences and exhibitions in a virtual space, reducing waste and avoiding the expense of a huge exhibition venue.

Social consciousness

“But Claire! This isn’t the first time you’ve written about social consciousness for DWH’s blog!” No. It’s not. And it won’t be the last.

It’s hard to call social consciousness a trend. It’s not. It shouldn’t be. The world’s largest corporations have the power to literally change the world, for better or worse, and more and more people are realising this every day. The brands that we choose matter, and the companies that are starting to look a little less than friendly are getting scared.

There’s an almost endless list of ways for brands to become more socially conscious. Owning up to mistakes, improving diversity and equality, reducing emissions, planting a bunch of trees, giving employees a decent living wage, banning fur and just trying to do better are all huge steps that companies are making every day.

Brands that don’t adapt to the changing priorities of their target markets simply won’t survive. So becoming more responsible and accountable is one of the biggest things you can do to boost your profits in 2021 and beyond.

Being kind never goes out of style.