Despite having a pretty low bar for success, the start of 2021 has somehow managed to limbo under our expectations. Nevertheless, we believe that 2021 is poised to gain momentum, and as we’ve discovered 2021 Resolutions Reflect Changing Priorities. We are optimistic that it will end on a more positive note than it began. With that spirit in mind, we put our heads together and compiled a list of research trends to watch in the next 12 months. Many of these are silver linings born out of the chaos of 2020, and they signal that the voice of the consumer is still loud, clear, and ready to converse with brands who are willing to listen. We are looking forward to what 2021 will ultimately bring and are excited to hear from you if you think we missed a trend. Happy New Year!
Ready to accelerate:
Covid accelerated many evolving consumer behaviors, and companies thathad the insights to harness those trends emerged superior. To be prepared for futureshifts in the consumer landscape, brands will look to build efficient and agile platforms to gain rapid,tactical insights. These insights will drive product development and launches, iterativechanges to offerings, and short term innovation pipelines. These efforts will complement foundationalresearch, but will focus on ways to quickly take the pulse of consumers.
All the time, not point in time:
Longitudinal research approaches will gain further appealas marketers continue to leverage holistic data sets that provide ongoing access toconsumer attitudes and behaviors during changing social, health, and political environments. The value of anon-going versus a point-in-time conversation will continue to pay dividends that willbe further amplified by data sets which look at consumers as whole beings versus within isolated categories.
Mission goes mainstream:
Metrics quantifying mission-driven behaviors will become acornerstone of brand equity tracking. As younger consumers come into their buying power, theirwillingness to pay for brands with a definable and relevant mission will invite brands into a deeperconversation about the ROI of being a mission-driven brand. Defining, quantifying, and trackingbrand engagement in this area will become integral to improving brand equity as consumers continue to lookto corporations to lead in this area.
Digital ethnographies are here to stay:
The explosion of amazing digital ethnography toolsas well as the comfort people have with more intimate recording and sharing of theirlives has created a perfect environment for Digital Ethnographies. While this was certainly happeningpre-COVID, many researchers opted to try Digital Ethnographies in lieu of more traditionalmethods during COVID, and they likely won’t be going back after seeing how amazing these studies can be forcapturing genuine interactions. We expect these studies to continue to be more prominentin the coming years.
Reflect, Research, Revise:
Leading brands will take time to reflect on what happened in2020, refocusing marketing and research efforts on foundational consumer behaviors tounderstand what needs their brands are best positioned to meet. Thoughtful brands will emerge with a betterblueprint for meeting evolving consumer needs by Q3 2021, with a long term innovationpipeline that capitalizes on lessons learned during the pandemic.
Storytelling continues to evolve:
We say this every year, and every year we are correct!Storytelling continues to evolve and change at a torrid pace. Emotional resonance is onthe rise, which is related to the mission and digital ethnography themes above.
Community is the new equity.
Smart brands are building communities from the start, andfocusing on building engagement between the community, their employees, and themselves. Thepower of these communities is manifesting itself in more loyalty, lower acquisition costs, and moreefficient communication channels. We expect this trend to really accelerate in the coming years.