Integrated Marketing Communication Trends 2021

Habits will have to be changed faster - the customers will not wait for long


Last December I wrote this - Trends 2020. All of the things I wrote about remain in force and continue, communication is integrated, and only those who adapt will survive. Not just adapt - change. There is an observable movement in the trends. The last year was full of intense events and seemed to pass by in an instant. It is time for fresh ideas.

#1 - Brands talk about current and sensitive topics

  • As trend number 1, I would like to mark the increasingly active engagement of brands in discussing current issues, including in their communication such topics as politics, equality, gender stereotypes, violence, etc. In Latvia, that might even seem dangerous, but the large brands are not afraid of speaking out. For example, Ben&Jerry’s actively engaged in political events in US. here, here and here

  • These are values that larger and smaller brands try to express, and that play an increasingly significant role in the lives of consumers. More on this here.

  • And yet, despite everything going on in the world, brands (both global and local) increasingly talk about sensitive issues - politics, race, religion, etc. However, from a brand management point of view, this requires a strategy that corresponds to the brand values.

#2 - Blindness will set in even for podcasts and blogs

  • Brands increasingly are using podcasts as communication tools, but a trend of oversaturation can be observed that threatens with blindness towards the received communication stimuli. The economy of attention is nothing new, but in relation to podcasts we will need tools that allow us to raise the bar, attract attention, not grow rusty. We will require more creativity, and that will require more investments. Otherwise - you will get lost among the crowd. Some creative examples - here. It also should be noted that the public uses podcasts differently during a crisis. In the link you will find a percentage distribution for different generations in the marketing context. Each generation chooses different channels for receiving information during a crisis - more here. An explanation? Podcasts are not “quick” information.

  • On the other hand, the basic structure of a blog includes a catchy title and introduction, a descriptive table of contents, 3-4 discussion points that are separated with catchy subtitles, a summary and a call to action (in connection with the business goal). The sections are supplemented with attractive photos - more here. It is important to connect the blog phenomenon with the trend no. 7 of this article - content marketing, where blogs are also created by employees who make up a part of the total brand management strategy, and where the next step is blogs in video or audio format, or in other words, blogs in podcast format. People are too lazy to read.

#3 Customer-created content and engagement

Talking about content marketing - a certain movement can be observed. It is nothing new, but more and more people are engaged by content directly created by customers or cooperation partners. This is particularly relevant to the B2B sector. Create cooperation projects, do not refrain from adding a "piece of your know-how", because that really works - here. The customer-created content can include various forms of communication - video clips, reviews, pictures, etc. It is important to remember - it is created by the customers themselves and the brands should facilitate this form of engagement! Globally, this aspect in particular has become a component of brand marketing strategy, especially during the pandemic when we have been forced to maintain a distance, and this content without a doubt is preferable to content created by the brand. The brands themselves, on the other hand, create a high-quality content that is focused on the customers and their feelings and emotions. For example - feelings experienced when staying at home during the pandemic. In the context of content marketing, the previously defined course must certainly be continued.

#4 E-commerce in social networks

Facebook and Instagram shops, Pinterest ads and catalogs, WhatsApp chatbots - it is one of the e-commerce trends in 2021. In particular for the teenage audience that wants things “here and now". When talking about e-shops - the pandemic has been a push for their development, but an audit is required for the “old” brands as well, where the e-platforms have already existed. The form and content becomes obsolete and must be renewed - we shouldn't be sleeping on our laurels. IT develops and the existing things become obsolete. Accordingly - we must keep in step with our time.

#5 - Nostalgia marketing

A stimulus to concentrate on the traditional - while, of course, supplementing it with innovations. In the global market several brands are already using this strategy, thereby increasing the engagement of both loyal and new customers. More on this and several other trends - here , here , here and here.

#6 The live format and chunking process - here and in pieces

This phenomenon can be explained with the “here and now” presence effect. When talking about message creation, then the live format is certainly a part of the strategy, but not everything is based on it. Micro-moments (in the right place and right time) can still be used and “caught". In 2020 Stories were introduced by LinkedIn as well. In creating a strategic message, the chunking process is important - it is closely related to Gestalt (the theory of visual perception that states that the totality is greater than the sum of its parts). The message must be delivered to the customer in chunks. This is the answer to the question of why phone numbers should be separated in fragments of two or three digits. The totality is easier to grasp.

#7 Personal brands are “revving up”

I have previously written about personal brands here. There are no significant changes, only further development, brand managers increasingly understand this topic, I would even say that they have a strategic approach and employees are increasingly seen as partners. This works and employees are becoming a part of influencer marketing. Personal brands are brands that come from a person. In the influencer field everything is still intense, with some changes, for example, it will no longer be acceptable to write #cooperation, and stricter oversight has been introduced.

#8 Trust and brand loyalty become more and more interconnected

More in the Deloitte Insights new global marketing trend 2021 report here. The main characteristic of the trends is the increasingly holistic and authentic approach to satisfying people's needs. It should be noted that demographic data and psychographics will not suffice - we need to study customer behavior needs to determine their needs. This is not even a new discovery - more here.

7 main trends from the Deloitte Insights report:

  • A clear goal in customer service - a unique position for changes;

  • Agility - this means agile marketing strategies and their corrections;

  • Creating authentic relationships with people - more important than market speed and efficiency;

  • Trust - delivering on promises, ensuring transparent and reliable information exchange. Focus from demographics to values;

  • Customer engagement - on a deeper level;

  • Core synthesis - innovative business partnerships;

  • Talent conversion and flexibility - redistributing, reorganizing marketing team roles on the basis of talents and skills.

#9 Voice searching becomes ever more popular

We are quickly approaching the time when we will purchase things using our voice. In this context we should note the renaissance of Wikipedia - it is time to create or update brand entries. It seems that this is one of the realities that is the closest to us. An attractive presentation by O. Kazaka can be found - here. It is already possible to organize a web layout on the basis of keywords that the customers are searching for. Voice searching changes SEO tactics and strategy.

#10 Some additional trends

Digital marketing trends - here and here.

E-mail marketing trends. Their significance has lessened, but has not died - more here.

When talking about text messages, the pandemic has changed the movement - a more active communication with customers is taking place, but it should be kept in mind that using text messages in communication is rarely possible in marketing, and lately has frequently been replaced by the proposed WhatsApp business solution here, which in the context of the marketing "funnel” can work not just for loyal customers.

As can be seen, the integrated marketing communication trends are developing, becoming more digital, hybrid, but not losing their presence. The general trend of communication is certainly conversations online or in a hybrid environment.

It's no use arguing with reality - the quicker we accept the new conditions, the easier we will adapt and survive. We wish you a successful (but not for the virus) 2021! Thanks to our customers and cooperation partners for their trust! Video article here.

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Jolanta Derkevica-Pilskunga, PhD