In a year that has drastically changed our industry and forced us to both reflect and pivot simultaneously, it may be difficult to plan for the future with a present that is so unpredictable.

Fortunately, we have spent the last few months asking marketers from some of the biggest brands, platforms and agencies in the world to share what’s happening in the industry that they are most excited about, and how it will impact 2021 and beyond. 

1. Focus on What’s Real

“I’m excited to see what brands and creators do with this new ‘permission’ to throw out the perfection and prioritize the real. … People want to see real, relatable content, and that can mean something that’s produced on an iPhone.”
Katie Shill, senior director of marketing, Calm 

“The pandemic has accelerated the trend toward increased openness and transparency. It’s also somewhat ironic, since we cannot meet clients in person. Whether we like it or not, clients can now literally see into our living rooms and hear our kids screaming in the background. The pandemic has been a uniquely humanizing experience, and that has made a traditionally staid industry far more flexible.”
Matt Siegel, CMO, Aperture Investors

2. Brands Living Their Values

“It’s an exciting time to witness how different brands have responded to the pandemic, sometimes compromising their business models to help. Marketing that follows values has existed for a while, but seeing companies put values over the brand, in places like racial equity or towards their customers’ health, speaks to a more earnest pivot.”
Santiago Pochat, head of Social Lab, Google

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“Are you living your message? From your internal operations to the people you hire, the work you put out, to your general business practices? If you’re not, it’s not enough. Particularly now in this cultural era, brands are ‘taking a stand’ but they typically don’t deliver on them. … Pure messaging and statements are not enough—it’s action, providing solutions via your products and commitment, that matter.”
Eshan Ponnadurai, global head of brand and consumer marketing, Whatsapp

3. Leveraging Strength to Drive Change

“The biggest shift in recent years is that the power has shifted from big corporations to people, and they can use this power to make or break your brand. If you do not listen and understand this power, you will find that your brand will not find its role in their life or culture. As marketers today, we need to stay in step with people and leverage their power and the power of our brands to drive societal change.”
Shweta Harit, global vice president, Evian

“What stands out the most to me is the fact that consumers are looking to brands to help change society. Brand activism is in full swing. People want to spend their dollars with companies that embrace their values and that are going to be catalysts to make things better. Brands have a tremendous amount of responsibility to not only themselves but the communities they serve.”
Edward Bourelly, vice president of marketing, Planet Fitness

4. Redefining Relevancy

“Unlike other platforms where there is a heavy focus on new content, on TikTok the release date has no bearing on how users may creatively engage with a particular song. Matthew Wilder saw his ’80s hit Break My Stride [originally released on Columbia Records] become a TikTok prank earlier this year, which saw song plays on key streaming platforms spike nearly 1,100% and has resulted in a sustained streaming lift.”
Dorothy Hui, svp of digital and audience development, Sony Music UK

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