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The Lowdown 2021 #January

Updated: Mar 24, 2021

We kick off our first 2021 Lowdown, back in another Lockdown.

With our fingers crossed for a better year, we start it with a healthy blend of media and marketing related news, ecommerce predictions with pinches of Brexit and Christmas. Read on...


A Bit Mystic Meg

Let's face it, making future-gazing predictions in volatile times is tricky. However, Mission Group's Cat Davis highlighted in the The Drum a few trends which seem likely to persist:

1. Ecommerce to continue to accelerate – Consumers are expected to shop online more frequently even after the pandemic. The online customer journey is now a critical one and brands will be focusing on customer loyalty in a bid to try and retain the new online customers acquired during the boom.

2. Virtual becomes reality – Lockdowns and social distancing has certainly put paid to attending physical events (VisitBritain estimates a £58bn loss to UK events industry in 2020). Marketeers have been grappling with their own virtual events but as the pandemic continues, consumers will demand a more sophisticated virtual experience with greater emphasis placed on production values, creativity and using the latest technology.

3. Pivot to health – 2020 saw unsurprisingly a greater focus on health, fitness, well being and hygiene. Some brands have pivoted to focus on new health-related products aiming to improve customers wellbeing. Others are placing greater emphasis on messages around the healthy ingredients or wellbeing properties of existing products and services.


What are the opportunities and challenges for ecommerce this year?

More on ecommerce as FinancesOnline have pulled together a meaty assessment of their top 10 ecommerce trends of 2021.

The in depth article has a U.S. slant but their top10 trends remain relevant for us:

  1. Online selling will continue to get bigger (does what it says on the tin)

  2. Customised packaging (building more brand appeal with more memorable packaging)

  3. Continued rise of mobile shopping (accounting for the majority of ecommerce sales)

  4. Multichannel personalisation (bespoke content across all channels)

  5. Reducing payment friction (addressing basket abandonment with simplified processes)

  6. Omnichannel selling (embrace it, marketplaces such as Amazon aren't going away)

  7. Voice shopping gaining traction (driven by smart speaker ownership)

  8. Focus on green consumerism (can boost sales, especially amongst "millennials")

  9. Social media x online shopping (brands and retailers embracing "buy" buttons)

  10. Increased AI use in ecommerce (from customer service to pricing and forecasting)

Meanwhile what's in store for media trading?

In Campaign's article, 'The year ahead for media: an opportunity to grow', four media gurus assess what is on the radar in 2021. Goodstuff's Bobby Din highlights increased media flexibility in the wake of Covid-19, with a relaxation of broadcaster's advanced booking deadlines a positive and independent agencies' ability to trade nimbly creating opportunities.

Ad revenues forecast to grow YoY (estimated at 14% pre the latest lockdown) but still likely to fall short of a return to 2019's pre-pandemic levels. More positively, as and when restrictions can be eased and the UK begins to return towards some form of 'normal', 2021 boasts a whole host of sporting events (including the delayed Euros and Olympics) which will hopefully encourage more brand investment and audiences coming to market with a bit more money to spend.


Yes, we're still talking about Christmas...

In their article, 'It's Beginning To Look Not Like Christmas', our econometrician friends at Metametrics look back at the impact on client sales of the combination of two C's: Christmas and Covid. Christmas is always a tricky time of year to accurately predict consumer behaviour and this year particularly so.

Not unexpectedly they suggest that econometrics can be a useful way to help marketeers interrogate what ACTUALLY happened plus reminders to 'watch your base' and 'mind your multiplier' - quite.


Health back on top of the agenda as Brexit fears fade

As of the 11th January, YouGov reported that Brexit, having briefly re-surged amidst transition uncertainty, has now slipped back down the list of issues that people consider as the most important facing the country. The new year sees 'Health' for the time being once again regain top spot from 'The Economy'. 'The Environment', and unsurprising to those of us homeschooling, 'Education' the next biggest early 2021 concerns, now schools are closed and the whole country back in lockdown..

Source: YouGov: Which of the following do you think are the most important issues facing the country at this time? Please tick up to three.


Is Google abusing its position by killing the cookie?

Asks critics in Campaign's 'Google investigated over third-party cookie replacement plans'.

The Competition and Markets Authority is investigating changes proposed in Google’s Privacy Sandbox, which include the removal of third-party cookies from its Chrome browser. The CMA has received complaints that Google is abusing its dominant position in online advertising, including from Marketers for an Open Web, a group of publishers and tech companies, who argue “What Google is doing in the name of privacy is saying, ‘we will take these things away from the open web', but they’re not taking it away from themselves.”

The CMA's Andrea Coscelli acknowledges "Google’s Privacy Sandbox proposals will potentially have a very significant impact on publishers, like newspapers, and the digital advertising market. But there are also privacy concerns to consider...". We don't envy the regulators as they seek to strike a right balance between business and legitimate privacy concerns.

Newsbrands seek a 'Jabs Army' to help vaccine roll out

Finishing on a brighter note, hopes of a return to relative normality are pinned on the successful rollout of the newly approved vaccines. Plaudits then to both The Sun and the Daily Mirror who have kicked off the new year with a push to recruit an army of volunteers to help facilitate the vaccination of thousands of vulnerable people. Using their range of print and digital channels, both papers, in different ways, are hoping to contribute to the recruitment of 50,000 volunteers. Positive initiatives from newsbrands which have gained the support of several big name brands and organisations.


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