There is little precedent to help us understand how COVID-19 might shape consumer trends, especially in light of the technology that has emerged since the last global pandemic event in 1918. Now that the end of the tunnel is in sight, we’re gathering data at a lightning pace to understand the emerging trends expected through 2021 and beyond. More
About Linda Landers
Posts by Linda Landers:
Most marketers are aware of the buyer’s journey in its simplest form: Awareness, Consideration, and Decision. But consumers aren’t simple, especially when shopping for CPG items. And both the pandemic and technology have served to further muddle today’s buyer’s journey.
The purchasing process for deciding between brands of paper plates or potato chips is much shorter than the process for purchasing a new car or designer handbag. Grocery stores are often where consumers make these types of impulse buys, not even touching on the first two stages of the journey and going straight to a final purchase decision.
Marketers must recognize that there are times and places where they must adjust how they address the traditional buyer’s journey and be ready to respond to current events, emerging technology, and evolving buyer behaviors.
Following is a look at the typical CPG buyer’s journey and ways to reach buyers when they’re ready to buy. More
Having worked with influencers for such brands as Barnes & Noble, Proctor & Gamble, Dell Computers, and Summit Brands, as well as brands in the food & beverage and wellness categories, we understand that when done correctly, influencer marketing is one of the most powerful marketing strategies available.
We’ve written about various influencer topics in the past, and one thing is clear: influencer marketing has evolved, and marketing strategies must also evolve to remain relevant.
Here are some of the influencer marketing trends predicted for 2021.
The Continued Rise of Micro and Nano-Influencers
Micro-influencers will continue to be more powerful than celebrity influencers for authentic engagement with a brand’s target audiences. In 2020, more than 46% of brand mentions featuring the hashtag #ad were published by Instagram accounts with 1k-20k followers. That will undoubtedly grow at least to 50% this year, if not more. Almost one-third of Instagram channels are currently micro-influencers with fewer than 100k followers. Mega-influencers and celebrities with over 5 million followers make up less than 1% of all influencers.
Micro- and nano-influencers enjoy better engagement with their audiences because they work hard to build their brand, entertain their followers, and build relationships with their clients. Even better, because they’re part of smaller communities, they’re more relatable than celebrities, which means their followers are more likely to act on their recommendations.
Brands will also be looking to work with specialized influencers that have deep niches, which supports better engagement rates. For instance, instead of food & beverage influencers, brands may engage influencers who specialize in organic foods or foods for specific allergies or sensitivities. Beauty brands will connect through influencers that fit their brand’s specific niche, such as sustainability or affordability.
Employees as Influencers
One group of specialized influencers are employees. Employees are often the first—and sometimes only—true connection customers have with a brand. That is likely why content shared by company employees typically receives 8x more engagement.
Savvy brands understand the power their employees hold, and that’s why many are taking the opportunities presented. Sometimes the opportunity is surprising and sudden, like Wendy’s repost of an employee’s video that has since received upward of 3 million views. Others have been more organized, like Macy’s Style Crew, which shares employees’ modeling store products.
Whether micro, nano, specialized, or employee influencers, ultimately it’s about finding the influencer whose audience matches the brand. And for this, the more niche, the better. Influencers with large audiences who don’t match the brand typically won’t generate as good of results.
Video: Still the King of Content
We can expect to see an even greater focus on creating assets beyond posts, with video on Instagram Stories and Reels, YouTube, and Facebook. In 2020, video ads were the top wayconsumers discovered brands they later purchased.
In the coming year, watch out for TikTok. Its audience now has nearly 850 million monthly active users and continues to grow daily. TikTok is still largely untapped as a marketing tool, with only 10% of marketers saying they’ve used it. Of that 10%, however, 66% say they experienced success. Expect to see 25% of marketers—or maybe more—approach TikTok as a new marketing channel this year.
View this post on Instagram
Performance-Based Influencer Marketing
Gone are the days of measuring the success of posts simply by how much engagement they receive. While engagement is certainly still an excellent indicator, we can expect to see a much bigger push toward measurements that mean bigger bottom lines.
To that end, expect performance-based influencer marketing to take center stage this year. Sales will be a key performance indicator, though brands may also prioritize website traffic, clicks, or other metrics. Regardless, they will be watching and measuring influencer content closely to ensure it brings real value to the brand.
SEO Comes to Influencer Marketing
Until this year, searching topics on Instagram required the use of hashtags, but this will no longer be the case. Searching with keywords will now be possible, meaning that exposure to new followers will increase exponentially. For instance, instead of searching hashtags for #organicrecipes or #crueltyfreemakeup and hoping for extensive results, users will be able to search by keywords for a larger return on accounts and posts.
With this new feature, posts that feature the keywords will appear in searches even if there is no hashtag for that keyword. This could change the way that users find content—and how influencers create their posts. Instead of rows of hashtags to maximize chances for exposure, posts can take on a more natural flow without sacrificing engagement.
How AI Is Shaping Influencer Marketing
While AI technology has made creating virtual influencers look and interact like real people, it is highly doubtful that these influencers will become the norm. Authentic influencers have a personal connection and a trusted voice with their audience. Influencers generated by computers may offer inspiration, but they will likely elicit a real feeling of betrayal when a follower or customer realizes the virtual influencer is not a real person.
So while virtual influencers won’t be replacing human influencers anytime soon, AI can certainly play a role in sifting through influencer performance data — assessing what types of brands influencers have worked with previously, and which influencers performed well by driving qualified engagement and conversions around particular products or content.
While influencer marketing is not perfect, it’s still one of the most effective ways for brands to drive online conversations and find new customers. Taking advantage of all that influencer marketing can offer in 2021 will require more than an exchange of free products for exposure. Still, the work you put into your campaigns will pay off. Avoid the known pitfalls, watch for red flags, and work with an experienced agency to develop relationships with influencers you can trust.
If you’d like to explore influencer marketing in 2021, or revamp your current influencer marketing strategies, give us a call.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed a lot about buyer behavior, from online ordering to contactless payments and so much more. The world looks different now, and many of those changes will stick even after the virus fades.
Many of the changes made have been in the works for years, but without a pressing reason to widely adopt or even use them regularly, some of the technology we rely on so heavily today may have languished forever.
Instead, QR codes have made a considerable resurgence at restaurants, where diners can view menus on their mobile devices instead of handling menus. Uber Eats and other restaurant delivery services have seen demand soar. Meal kits and grocery delivery apps are booming as consumers seek more ways to stay home while ordering the food they need. Most, if not all, of these changes are sure to remain in place and even continue to evolve even further.
The same is true for marketing strategies. Many of the tactics used before COVID-19 were beginning to find a footing as consumers prioritized their importance. Now that we’re months into the pandemic, those strategies have taken hold and helped brands not just maintain their bottom line but often increase it.
Which of those marketing tactics can we expect to see long after the coronavirus is gone?
Brands throwing their weight behind specific causes was nothing new before 2020, but the act didn’t quite have the gravity it does now. And, while 90% of consumers expect brands to put their employees and suppliers’ safety first, it’s not all about the virus.
This year saw hundreds of brands take a stand for racial equality, diversity, and inclusion, as well as new “green” practices and sustainability. Social responsibility is something many consumers now expect their favorite brands to adopt, and beyond 2020 this will become even more commonplace.
With many shoppers still uncomfortable going into stores due to COVID concerns, it makes sense that ecommerce shopping has significantly increased in 2020. Compared to $266.84 billion spent online in the first six months of 2019, the first half of 2020 saw online sales skyrocket to $347.26 billion.
Ecommerce requires specific digital marketing strategies to achieve the best results, some of which have been in use for quite a while, including SEO, product reviews, content marketing, social media marketing, and influencer marketing.
This won’t be enough as we move into 2021, however. The trend toward ecommerce will continue to grow, even as consumers begin to feel safe again in stores. Some of those tactics will include “buy” buttons on social media posts, more detailed Google shopping information, apps with push notifications, better email marketing, Amazon advertising, increased payment options, and a more streamlined landing page experience.
Marketers need to continue adopting ecommerce marketing tactics and innovations to maintain their competitive edge.
Empathy and Customer Experience
Big Data was the name of the game for years, as more and more companies relied on numbers to learn what their customers wanted. The pandemic changed that as the convenience consumers thought they wanted made possible through that gathered information now seemed cold and impersonal.
In the face of the world-wide virus, consumers began communicating that what they want is comfort and understanding from the brands they’ve come to trust. Though supportive messages like “we’re all in this together” worked for a while, in the future it won’t be enough. Consumers will expect brands to walk their talk to earn their loyalty and hard-earned money.
In response, brands have stepped up their personalized marketing strategies, from AI programs that help them solve consumer problems as quickly as possible, to personal shopping sessions, both in-store and online. Consumers will continue to gravitate to this individual attention, and marketers should make sure that personalized marketing strategies are here for 2021 and beyond.
With lights, decorations, and sidewalk Santas, it’s beginning to look a lot like the holiday season. Unfortunately, it’s also looking like the pandemic will put a damper on our usual holiday fun. Most brands have considered what socially distanced store capacity and the danger of COVID exposure may do to their bottom line. Their marketing reflects that understanding, not only for the potential danger that holiday shopping might bring, but also for consumers’ desire to experience some normalcy during the holidays. More
2020 has been an extremely long, difficult year for many brands. COVID-19 has changed the landscape for many industries, perhaps none so much as for the food and beverage industry.
Interestingly, many of the food and beverage trends that first appeared in 2019 actually prepared consumers for the sheltering-in-place and social distancing required beginning in early March throughout the country. In 2021, we can expect to see new food trends and marketing strategies that have evolved out of necessity throughout 2020. More
Promoting branded content is more than just creating a blog post and sharing it on social media. To be successful, you must have a content marketing strategy that ensures you’re creating content your potential customers need, and then getting that content in front of them to achieve your sales objectives.
Consumers discover brands through various media, from television commercials to YouTube videos, from roadside billboards to social media boosted posts, and from print ads to a website. The delivery method varies wildly, but there is one thing all of these have in common: content.
With 77% of US adults online every day—and many saying they’re always online—brands must understand how to deliver online content to their target audience. Because without content, your potential customers will know nothing about your brand. Critical to creating your content marketing strategy is making sure you have a framework for developing and delivering content that meets their needs. The following are key points to address when creating your content marketing strategy. More
In an increasingly crowded food and beverage industry, finding fresh ways to communicate your brand message can set you apart. But often it seems like every good idea has already been used. And while that might be true, revisiting old ideas with a fresh approach can jumpstart your food & beverage marketing to better engage your audience. More
With online, direct-to-consumer, and click-and-collect options, buying CPG products is easier than ever before. When marketing CPG brands, providing those flexible options to consumers, and building awareness through social media marketing, are both essential for staying competitive and building online and in-store sales.
Social media marketing gives marketers the ability to reach vast numbers of potential consumers while getting instant feedback about their brand. More