Starcom's look ahead to what 2021 might hold...

From monologue to dialogue, recovery to revolution and global versus local

In a year that is to set be unpredictable, Starcom outlines the key tensions consumers will be facing, in latest insight report.

Download the full report.

For brands and businesses dealing with political, environmental and social conflicts, as well as industry challenges, has never been so high on the business agenda. The advertising world has had to react to and reflect these challenges in their marketing. It has never been more vital to look ahead and make sense of the cultural changes that will have a dramatic impact on businesses and communication. 

Starcom has made sense of these cultural changes by outlining five new tensions that brands will need to consider as we progress through 2021. This should help brands identify their audiences and their wants and needs in the months to come.

Recovery vs. Revolution: Reverting to old ways or continuing with new ways of life we’ve established. 

The first tension looks at the conflicting short and long-term requirements of recovery vs. revolution. The pandemic has caused such disruption to all aspects of life, for many survival and healing is most needed. But for others, the pandemic has highlighted the necessity for shaking up systems that have proved unfit for purpose and doing things in new, innovative ways. Pioneering brands will revolutionise their categories, the way they communicate with the world, the issues they will want to contribute to. Incredible achievements have been shown to be possible during unprecedented times, and so whilst the need for recovery and to self-mend is evident, it is also time for brands to be brave and brutally adapt.  

Too much time vs. not enough time: Lockdown has offered us more time to spend on ourselves, yet we appear to be more stressed, not less. 

Time has been bent out of shape, perhaps never to return to the routines we were once used to. Tasks that had been conveniently squeezed from the day-to-day (e.g. bread making) have now been reinstated as positive pastimes.

All made possible by other seamless instant transactions that in the past would have been too slow for the pre-pandemic pace of life. 

Local vs. Global: Lockdown has forced a renewed focus on local communities and businesses

Our perceptions of space too, have been impacted by the pandemic. For the past generation, people have become accustomed to being able to travel across the world unhindered, and for goods to be able to travel to them, with limited hassle or delay. However, the impact of both the virus and Brexit, means how we travel and access the things we need, are being re-considered. As people avoid travel, COVID-19 has driven a surge in ‘localism’ around the world.

Introvert vs. Extrovert: Joy of Missing Out contrasted with the desperate need to escape back into the crowds. 

The pandemic has impacted aspirations and desires. What we value will always be tested in times of crisis. We explore this, through the tension between the Introvert vs. Extrovert, the delicious (or anxious) desire to stay in and JOMO vs. the desperate need to escape back into the crowds. This trend highlights the personal needs of each individual and the new demands on brands to be able to cater to each, and both need states to be there when customers need them.  

Monologue vs. Dialogue: If 2020 taught us anything it is perhaps that we should all listen more, and shout more. 

This tension asks us to question whether communication should be reconsidered in 2021. Should your brand Monologue vs. Dialogue? If 2020 taught us anything, it is perhaps that we should all listen more and shout more. Knowing how and when to listen, debate and engage, and when to turn up the volume and shout a brand’s belief and message loud and proud is a complex but essential skill this year and beyond. 

Heather Dansie, Insights Director, Starcom, said: “Having delved deep into outlining these five key consumer tensions, we have identified an overarching theme of 2021 that reflects the interconnected nature of these trends: Bravery. The radical change for businesses, in people’s behaviours and values means that brands and agencies alike must bravely take tough decisions, support each other and be prepared to think differently. We have a collective responsibility to do so, despite these difficult times. Bravery, coupled with empathy and human intelligence will be essential for brands to win.”


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