2021 calls for woke consumers to meet responsible brands: Mitchelle Rozario Jansen

Shrugging off the disruptions of last year, businesses and agencies are looking for a strong revival in 2021. Adgully – as part of our annual TRENDING NOW endeavour – has been presenting the strategies and views of a cross-section of industry leaders as they go about reclaiming lost time and market opportunities and build for a stronger future, armed with the lessons of 2020.

Putting on the lens of 2020, for Mitchelle Rozario Jansen, AVP - Operations (West), WATConsult, “Trend” is something that could emerge overnight or render itself redundant the very next moment. In this interaction with Adgully, Jansen talks about the three V’s of Digital – Video, Voice & Vernacular; the behavioural facets of marketing and much more.

When I was approached to spell out the trends that one could foresee in 2021 a thought crossed my mind, frankly several did. What does “Trend” mean? A change or development in a certain direction? Something that is quickly rising or picking up? I was surprised to find the digital definition of trend online: a topic that is the subject of many posts on a social media website or application within a short period of time. This would’ve been unheard of only a few decades ago.

Putting on the lens of 2020, here’s what “Trend” means to me, it is something that could emerge overnight or render itself redundant the very next moment.

Let me simplify this: I see trending Reels every time I’m bored and decide to aimlessly browse my Instagram page and then again something that took the digital world by storm, “Tik Tok”, was no longer accessible to the many who swore by it.

Trends in their very nature depend on change. Depend on movement. Even in the stillness, in the limitations, in the PAUSE of 2020, many people, many organisations, many brands found positive MOVEMENT.

One of the key reasons for positive outcomes was agility. Through a shared experience, brands were able to reach out to their audiences by changing a little, by adapting and by quickly delivering what was needed to those that needed it.

These learnings from 2020 are sure to pave the way for a better 2021 and here are some of the “Trends” that I foresee:

Outlook for 2021

The three V’s of Digital is all the talk of digital town – Video, Voice & Vernacular. Google’s talking about it, a Dentsu report spoke about it. It’s what all marketers are personally witnessing themselves.

Video & OTT on the rise:

The Denstu report estimated that there has been a 5x increase in consumers spending 16+ hours weekly and a 4x increase in those spending 12-16 hours weekly on OTT platforms.

That’s a LOT of time in front of a screen. It’s a lot of attention, if brands can grab it with compelling content. Another way to make the most of this trend is to have meaningful, subtle brand integrations. It’s not about product placements alone, it is about how well you do it.

Vernacular content preferred:

There’s a rising trend especially seen in India, where people prefer to use their mother tongues or local languages while using social platforms or search engines.

With high Internet penetration in the last few years even to the remotest corners, this number is as high as 90% in our home land.

More and more it is becoming necessary to appeal to Bharat and not just India. People also use these Indic languages for Voice-based searches as well and this brings me to the 3rd V...


To throw some numbers, the market for Voice & speech recognition will see a growth of over 17.2% by 2025, to reach about $26.8 billion!

From something as hygiene and long-term as a robust SEO for voice-based searches to utilising this “Natural interface” through voice assistants, it is both a growing tech trend but also a great advertising tool.

From Voice assistants on Phones & TV, to Voice powered apps which will be the new norm. From IVRs to Voice picking up in gaming technology. The possibilities are many, but have to be tailormade for the target audiences in mind, and for that one must observe who the audience is.

Insight driven actions:

Who are your consumers? What do they need? What do they want? Some very pertinent questions when it comes to marketing.

The pandemic has taught us that people adapt, evolve, they change. It is important to pick up these cues quickly & act on it with focused objectives.

However, It is important to not just observe the changes in consumer behaviour but also predict the changes that may occur based on the environment that people are in. Today we are in a lockdown, tomorrow the rules may relax, what then? How would people react? By analysing the ‘what ifs’ and preparing for every possibility one can stay ahead of the curve.

Great expectations

The pandemic, a lockdown, and now the hopeful vaccination drives, these are all circumstantial, but what’s lasting is the impact these things have on people and that’s what one has to address. Then no matter what the situation and what the expectation, you’re looking at the bigger picture.

So, keeping numbers & statistics aside here, my expectations from 2021 were and are focused on the behavioural facets of Marketing.

What do I mean by behavioural facets? Those that I have observed in actual people or as we like to call them “Consumers” and those that the “Brand” exhibits.

Today’s generation, for the lack of a better word, is “WOKE”. They want to be informed, they are opinionated, they care about issues deeply, they do not shy away from voicing their thoughts and they have several platforms to do that. They know what they want and are not afraid to get it. My expectations from them remain that Digital is going to be an integral part of their everyday, all day. They don’t just “Go” Online, they almost always are.

As a brand you need to be present where they are, talk the language they talk and above all, be true to who you are. If you’re not, they won’t be afraid to walk off or worse yet, call you out.

For brands, my expectations are that they be authentic, walk the walk, show and don’t just tell them that you care. Emotional bonds are harder to break, but can be made through simple stories, through laughter, through joy. A responsible brand doesn’t just convert consumers into customers, but turns them into their ambassadors with even a simple Facebook post.

If you ask me, 2021 calls for woke consumers to meet responsible brands.

Key learnings from 2020

  • Keeping this short, top 5 things I have learnt from the year that was:
  • Agility is key for success. Faster adaptation of infrastructure facilitated better crisis management & drove business results across different industries.
  • Observe & learn. Insights are important. Data-Driven insights are even better.
  • As a brand, try to “Feel” not just “Think”. It will go a long way.
  • The power of a collective is far superior to that of an individual.
  • Being “Humane” is an underrated, but much needed quality in people & brands alike.

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