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Future Trends 2021


Welcome to our Future Trends 2021 series, part of our Customer Engagement campaign, in collaboration with dotdigital and in partnership with Foresight Factory.

In 2020, we focused on the growth in audio engagement, new forms of brand experience, paid for loyalty and the burgeoning subscription economy – all of which you can find out more about, here.

These 2020 trends were analysed as the world was coming to understand the impact that coronavirus would have on our daily lives. As part of the latest ‘How to Win Trust and Loyalty’ report, conducted during the pandemic, we also asked about emerging areas of customers engagement. This consumer insight has led to the development of this year’s trends, which will encompass both the effects of 2020 on the market and what the future has in store for 2021 and beyond.

As with previous editions, the objective of this collection is to inspire organisations to find innovative and diverse ways to respond to new customer behaviours and desires.

Each trend in the series follows the same structure and aims to inform, inspire and give practical advice. The first two – ‘Insights’and ‘Opportunities’ – report the latest data and analysis on how the trend may impact customers. Having set the scene for each trend, the ‘Questions’ section then helps you think about how these might relate to your own brand (or clients) and, most importantly, its customers.

The ‘Takeaways’ section then offers key aspects we suggest you consider and, finally, the ‘Case Studies’ will close your journey with successful and tangible real-world examples of how these trends are manifesting.

This year’s trends include:

Subscription Economy Surge

Life under coronavirus has altered so many aspects of consumer behaviour, one of which is the rise of subscriptions. As a result of the pandemic, the need for remote means of engagement between brands and customers has extended beyond just digital communications.

Half of consumers (53%) now have a paid media streaming subscription, while over a third (37%) subscribe to a paid next-day delivery service such as Amazon Prime. A key benefit of subscription-based buying is that it forms long-term engagement with customers while still offering flexibility.

Will these pandemic-boosted behaviours continue in a coronavirus-free world?

Sign-up to our webinar on Wednesday 3 February to find out more.

Power of Brand Coalitions

Customers still value loyalty programmes but wish they were able to receive a more personal experience and relevant offers. How can a single brand offer this? By teaming up with a coalition of like-minded organisations to offer customers a more holistic loyalty offering. This allows customers to earn and spend across a range of the brands they already love, as well as encouraging them to engage with brands they may not have tried before.

The DMA’s research shows four in five consumers show interest – and a third strong interest – in rewards they can collect across their consumption and redeem across a collective of brands.

However, such systems require forming strong mutually beneficial partnerships – all brands involved will want to benefit from increased engagement and spend.

How can brands strike the right balance?

Join our webinar on Thursday 11 February to learn more.

In-Game Brand Experience

Half of consumers now play some form of computer or video game at least once a month, most of which are playing at least weekly.

With many customers spending significant time in these digital environments what opportunities are there for brands to engage? Going beyond gamification of brand experiences to actual in-game engagement and supporting the growing ecosystem around gaming.

The growing cohort of gamers are interested in seeing their preferred brands within their favourite games, as well as being able to engage with brands and their real-life products within these digital environments.

Outside the game, there are also opportunities to connect and engage with these consumers through the growing esports landscape and social platforms that are creating this new gaming landscape.

Are your customers open to in-game engagement?

Discover the full trend at our webinar on Thursday 11 March.

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