Written by Michelle Edwards | USA
on January 19, 2021

The latest Global Marketing Trends Report from Deloitte offers a fascinating look at some of the key concerns businesses are facing as the COVID-19 pandemic rounds the corner into its second year.

In their 2021 trends report, Deloitte set out to find out how people and brands are responding to the global pandemic that turned the world upside down, and which many months along, continues to be a very serious and problematic issue. We’ve prepared a snapshot of the report for you, covering the key points of the research.

Consumer versus executive perspectives

What is it that has some brands doing exceedingly well while other are languishing even as the situation continues to be very unstable? 

Deloitte approached this with a survey of both consumers and executives to find out what their experiences and feelings are as we head into 2021. The results clearly indicated a major drop in confidence on the part of C-suite executives in 2020.

Deloitte Global Marketing Trends C-suite survey

Interestingly, this resulted in a laser-like focus on the part of executives to improve efficiency and productivity. According to Deloitte, this became a much higher priority than “human-centric” actions such as “strengthening customer engagement, retaining talent, and increasing the company’s impact on society.”

Conversely, consumers responded much more positively to brands that they felt were not acting solely in their own interests during the time of the pandemic. In fact, a whopping 25% of consumers who noticed brands acting this way walked away from those brands. And 4 out of 5 people could not only cite an example of a brand responding in a positive way to the pandemic, but also felt “strongly” that it led to an increase in their loyalty to that brand.

Deloitte Global Marketing Trends consumer Pulse Survey

Based on the data collected, the theme of Deloitte’s 2021 global marketing trends report became: “breaking out of our often defensive mindsets to more holistically – and authentically – meet human needs.”

Key trends

Here are the 7 key trends of Deloitte’s 2021 Global Marketing Trends report:

1. Purpose

Organizations that know why they exist and who they’re built to serve are uniquely positioned to navigate unprecedented change. In 2020, people are paying attention to brands that respond to a crisis with responses that are driven by a holistic purpose. 

2. Agility

Success during this time of upheaval is going to require more than cutting costs, it is going to take a move to a digital strategy that is agile and able to refocus to meet new customer needs, or risk rapidly losing relevance. In Deloitte’s survey, 58% of global consumers who were surveyed were able to name a brand that was rapidly able to pivot to the new COVID circumstances. And of those respondents, 82% said that these new and relevant offerings led to an increase in their desire to do more business with these brands.

“Be the signal, not the noise”.


3. Human experience

Know thyself! Technology and digital do not truly result in a satisfactory human experience. Consumers still desire a human connection, and even the best of technologies do not provide that. In order to capture this need, organizations must:

“Balance human needs with speed-to-market and efficiency objectives, or risk greater accrual of ‘experience debt’.” 

To build an organization that has a strong foundation focused on the human experience, it is important to bring solutions to the market that are based on values and respond to the most pressing needs of society – with a focus on infrastructure. 

The human experience starts with core values


4. Trust

Within an organization, key functions must work together to build trust. Deloitte found that 82% of customers are more likely to visit businesses that have considered and set up guidelines and processes that ensure the safety of their employees. In fact, 31% see it as imperative to repeat business. However, within organizations, trust is often fragmented. Changing this is key. Also key is pivoting from a focus on what the customer looks like to what the customer values. 

“It’s hard to deliver on trust when the marketing department mirrors the skills of an ad agency. Delivering holistically on trust requires a wide ranging collection of skill sets, including expertise in product development, analytics, and a deep understanding of revenue mode

5. Participation

“Marketers can benefit – and stay ahead of the competition – by crafting an engagement strategy that leans into customer participation at its deepest levels.”

Deloitte found that a whopping 56% of people had engaged in a digital brand participation activity in the past year. Activities included writing reviews, developing and posting content, and giving online advice, amongst others. China had the greatest participation rate, followed by Brazil. And participation varied based on the type of product or service. However with such high participation numbers, it is clear that this opens avenues for marketers to build plans around participation.

6. Fusion

The future is trending toward business partnerships that:

“Integrate customer insights and digital platforms in their innovation road maps to surprise and delight the people they serve.” 

In 2020, C-suite executives have become very defensive in their mindsets. However, it will take a more proactive position to meet the needs of a customer base that has been so widely affected by COVID-19. 

“People don’t need cars, they need to get from point A to point B, just as they don’t need surgery, they need to be well.”

Deloitte Global marketing trends C-suite SurveyThe chapter on Fusion goes on to take an in-depth look at how COVID-19 will continue to affect businesses in the year(s) to come. Including a look at how digital will allow companies to continue to explore partnerships, often in new and interesting ways, to find competitive advantages for their organizations.

7. Talent

In this chapter, we at UP find what we have always believed to be the heart of the matter, deeply related to our way of working called e-ployment®. The playing field is changing in the world of employment. Companies are turning more to AI, and remote working has, in many cases, become a necessity. And while it seems that there is a desire, post COVID-19, to bring more external agency work inside, a need for “Gig” workers is also being recognized.

Read more:

You can download the entire report from Deloitte here


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