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“Brands engaging with customers on a personal level will drive the next wave of change”

Shrugging off the disruptions of the year gone by, businesses and agencies are looking for a strong revival in 2021. Over the next few weeks, Adgully – as part of our annual TRENDING NOW endeavour – will be 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.

Increased preference for online shopping, more brands creating customer engagement on social media channels, and further growth of video and audio content are some of the key trends that Chaitanya Ramalingegowda, Director and Co-founder, Wakefit.co, sees in the year ahead. 

Outlook for 2021

Given how customer experience and customer interaction with brands has changed during the COVID-19 pandemic, here are the key trends we expect to see in 2021:

  1. Increased preference for online shopping

While brick-and-mortar stores are reopening across the globe, the shift in customer preferences is unmistakable. Customers have sought the safety and reduced infection risks associated with online shopping and placed their trust in D2C brands, marketplaces, and vertical e-commerce players. The shift in buying behaviour is most noticeable in the non-metros, as professionals working in metros and habituated with online shopping have moved back to their native places and are driving adoption in and around their communities. For instance, demand for Wakefit.co products in non-metros has risen from 30% to 45% since the pandemic. These trends show a deeper behavioral shift in buying patterns across the country.

  1. Social media to look at focussed customer engagement

In 2020, we saw more brands attempting to create engagement with their audiences even during the complete lockdown through good content on their social media channels. Brands were seen collaborating with influencers, who commanded both large and small audiences on their profiles. While this is likely to continue in 2021, brands will also look to create engagement through owned content on their platforms. The year 2021 will see brands taking control of the narrative and using their social media platforms to add value to their customers’ lives, from a product, entertainment, and knowledge building front.

  1. Video and audio content will rule the roost

As the use of online video and audio content continues to mature, its growth is expected to drive content consumption in the years to come. OTT platforms, YouTube channels, and podcasts are likely to lead storytelling trends for both brands as well as content creators. Understandably, advertising expenditures on these channels are also expected to bourgeon in 2021. 

Great expectations

In 2021, we will continue to focus on mental, physical, and emotional health and create scientifically engineered offerings that support the sleep and ergonomic well-being of people. Due to the increased attention to safety and healthcare, we expect more customers to invest in products and solutions that are conducive to their changing lifestyle needs.

The new normal has increased the focus on a customer-centric approach, with services like doorstep delivery and an intuitive customer experience framework gaining prominence. Even as digitalisation becomes the way of life, in 2021, we expect to see deeper human connections fuelled by these digital platforms. Brands that engage with customers on a personal and meaningful level will drive the next wave of change. 

Key learnings from 2020

The year 2020 posed as the biggest learning curve for individuals, brands, and the society at large. Each one of us had to alter our lifestyles to fit into the new normal. Brands across the globe had to – time and again – rethink their strategies to cope with the uncertainties of the pandemic.

At Wakefit.co, we learned that good work is location-agnostic. Our belief in our people was re-installed as every team member went above and beyond to keep the company running and growing. Our efforts to ensure that our colleagues felt secure in their jobs and had facilities like COVID-19 insurance from the company were highly appreciated by our workforce. We were able to fast-track research on our home solutions range and launch it by July 2020, many months before the scheduled period of launch.

We also learned and understood what our social community wanted from us at a time when uncertainty and fear were high. We created the lockdown manual, which did not push the products or the brand at any point in time, but simply created original content (videos, podcasts, and blogs) that inspired empathy and kindness for the people around us. The campaign was conceptualised, shot, produced, and executed virtually, reinforcing our belief in the power of digital media, if used right.

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