March 11th marked the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic that set in motion much chaos and adversities that would alter life as we know it. Who would have known that the term “quarantine” would be used daily. That school education and the workforce would be in a remote capacity, including a mandate for wearing masks in public places. That there would be supply shortages on disinfecting wipes, and toilet paper being one of the hardest commodities to find on store shelves (and if you were lucky, there was a maximum limit of one). The world continues adapting from the ramifications this pandemic brought into our lives, our priorities, places we go, people we see and how we spend our money.
The United States, as well as the rest of the world, has suffered a severe economic blow which will be felt for years to come. Hospitality, dining, entertainment and travel industries have been hit especially hard with many unable to survive the economic losses. Many self-employed and mom and pop businesses have suffered financial ruin while others are trying to hold on.
While consumers look for more ways to establish relationships in the ever-changing pandemic climate, most have altered their brand message to identify and connect more emotionally to one’s beliefs, as well as creating a stronger emphasis on the value of the brand.
Retailers that were able to maintain physical locations adapted the safety regulations while enhancing the customer service experience when you shopped in the brick and mortar store. Understandably, as temporary business closures were implemented, more online shopping patterns emerged and businesses developed more e-commerce divisions connecting technologies and the virtual world. As reported by Forbes, there are five big retail trend predictions to look for in 2021:
- Omnichannel – Offline is online and online is offline: More technology trends coming together, including AI, robotics, IoT, and extended reality (XR) which includes virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR).
- AI increasingly customer-facing across the retail industry: Proliferation of features such as chatbots and virtual assistance.
- Autonomous Deliveries and Fulfilment: Self-driving delivery vehicles and airborne drone deliveries from fulfillment centers to consumers’ homes.
- See it, like it, buy it – Direct shopping and cutting out the middleman: Not just with the rise of influencers, but also shoppable TV. For example, NBC implemented technology allowing app users to receive notifications for products they see on screen that are available for direct purchase.
- Personal Shopping: Similar to how recommendation engines are used in e-commerce, technology has equipped shopping assistants with information from past purchases or completed applications on customer preferences, directing you to products you like or need most.
These trends not only impact consumer behaviors, but advertising industries continue adjusting their marketing strategies as well. In their U.S. end of year forecast, ad agency GroupM predicted that digital advertising will grow at a greater rate than traditional media, accounting for 55% in 2021.
Everything that we know has been altered one way or another. And although no one has all the answers, we continue to evolve, adapting more in the moment, implementing insightful strategies, and connecting our resources. Together, we will continue navigating through this uncharted territory and come out even better than before.