Marketing Trends in the New Year

two coworkers standing around a table in a meeting

2021 is here, and we ask that everyone be real quiet. Tiptoe into it. No “Happy New Year.” Avoid any hoopla or celebrations. We all know how 2020 went, so we’re just sneaking into the coming year in hopes of saving ourselves a repeat of the year that shall remain unnamed.

There are some important things we need to discuss as they relate to the coming year. We already talked about our favorite 2020 PR moments. Now it’s time to look toward 2021 (Hint: the pandemic isn’t going anywhere anytime soon).

Because we’re equal opportunists when it comes to integrated communications, we can’t ignore PR’s best friend, marketing. Here are what we’ve identified as the major trends for 2021.

Here’s a clue on what you can expect: your customers want to see a more human brand. They are making the choice to buy from companies that morally and ethically align with them.

Not to toot our own horn, but we’ve been talking about brand activism for years. We said it then, and we’ll say it again—a brand can’t ignore the state of the world and hope to keep their current customer base. Shit just doesn’t work like that anymore.

COVID-19 is here to stay

Yeah, it isn’t what anyone wants to hear, but too f*cking bad. The fact is our government has failed us at every turn. Businesses and individuals are the ones suffering while politicians golf and go on trips to Mexico.

2021 is going to be much of the same until we can get the pandemic under control. Ecommerce and ad spend will continue to grow. According to eMarketer, advertising on ecommerce platforms jumped 39% in 2020 and will grow another 30% in 2021, capturing 13% of total U.S. digital ad spend. Every company should have digital within their strategy, but this further proves the point. Digital is about to become a lot more competitive.

According to Forbes, executives and brands that responded positively to the pandemic have successfully increased brand loyalty and sustained or gained consumer trust.


This should’ve been a part of your marketing a long time ago, but we often find traditional companies and agencies have a hard time moving quickly. Here’s an example. 8THIRTYFOUR was the agency of choice for two citywide campaigns that needed to be pulled together and launched in a week. We created a strategy, messaging, logo, landing page, media outreach plan and more. We were chosen specifically due to our ability to be agile, responsive and innovative. Would you be able to do the same?

Brand activism and relationship building

Some experts refer to this as “humanizing your brand.” We call it good business.

Here’s how one company, Zinus, put it to work for their customers.
Recently, one of our team members ordered a box spring—not a real exciting purchase but something everyone typically needs. Fast forward to the delivery of the box spring. They open the box, and there is an envelope with a personal note from the company. It is thoughtful, funny and memorable and most of all, it is genuine. Along with the note are several blank thank you cards which they encourage you to send to others who might need a pick-me-up. Um, how cool is that?

They also went one step further. We’ve all received the generic allen wrench when we order something that needs to be assembled, and it’s a pain in the ass to twist and turn. Zinus, the company, provided a ratchet-style Allen wrench. You don’t realize how amazing that is until you are putting together a king-sized box spring. It’s a game changer.

We’ll remember the effort the company put into something as simple and boring as a box spring, because it stands out in a world where brands lose sight of their customers and focus solely on their bottom line. What they don’t realize is humanity will set you apart and will absolutely affect your revenue.

In our next blog this week, we’ll discuss the key components you need to factor into your marketing plan as they relate to tactics, metrics, employees and more.

We’re here if you need help.

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