During the COVID-19 pandemic, more than eight in ten consumers (82%) tried at least one digital activity for the first time, such as ordering groceries online, using an educational or an exercise app, according to Deloitte Global Marketing Trends 2021, and more than half of them (53%) believe that their new digital experiences are an adequate substitute for activities they used to conduct prior to the pandemic.
The study highlights the importance of expanding brands’ digital ecosystem, as almost a third of respondents say that digitally native activities were a superior alternative to their in-person experiences. The study was conducted globally with the help of more than 2,400 consumers from China, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Qatar, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The current context is rapidly changing consumers’ behavior, who seem to favor the adoption of digital channels, with 66% agreeing that the pandemic has increased their appreciation for well-designed technologies. The health crisis has not only contributed to this change towards digital technologies, but it has also set a pattern for the years to come, according to the findings of the study, as 63% of respondents agreed that they would continue to use digital technologies more often well after the pandemic subsides.
“As brands navigate unprecedented times, they need to embrace change more rapidly than ever by seeking partnerships outside of their traditional domains and leveraging digital solutions in order to meet emerging needs of their customers. In the past several months, the collaboration between brands has been creative and unexpected worldwide, as we saw banks partner with mental health providers in order to address concerns associated with financial problems, health manufacturers teaming up with automotive companies to fill demand for medical equipment and technology platforms activating a multiple cross-industry partnerships to provide digital telemedicine services. The intensive use of technology also comes with challenges, such as making sure the human interaction is not replaced by technology, but it is rather enabled or enhanced, equally always acting in alignment with the brand’s purpose is more relevant than ever,” said Ruxandra Bandila, Marketing and Business Development Director, Deloitte Romania.
Deloitte 2021 Global Marketing Trends emphasizes that consumers respond better to brands which focus on their mission in times of crisis. When organizations have a comprehensive purpose, their actions have the ability to shape consumer attitudes, as nearly one out of four respondents strongly agree that these actions positively shifted their brand perceptions, the study shows. Additionally, strong purpose-driven enterprises are capable of molding shopping behavior, as one in five consumers said the brand’s actions changed their buying preferences in favor of the brand.
The context of the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of a trust-based relationship between brands and consumers, according to the study. The lack of trust can damage the brand, as two thirds of respondents (66%) are aware of the negative actions taken by companies during the pandemic, such as raising prices on essential items, which led to one in four of them quitting the brand. When it comes to data privacy, customers rather distrust brands, as only 21% of respondents agree to share their data with an organization in order to help it respond to the pandemic.
The report concludes that purpose, agility, human experience, trust, consumers’ participation, fusion and talent are the main seven global marketing trends on which brands need to focus in 2021 in order to build better connections with their customers, workforces and society.
Deloitte 2021 Global Marketing Trends is the result of interviews with respondents across the globe and it aims to uncover the implications of global marketing trends at a time when the world changes in unpredictable ways.