2021 Marketing Trends for Retailers

2021 retail marketing trends

Happy New Year Retailers! We look toward 2021 as a year of making positive changes, of choosing to shape a new world, of creating a better tomorrow. 

In this brighter and more hopeful future, we move relentlessly forward on the path to recovery. We left behind a year of uncertainty and difficulty, a year that required us to pivot from known strategies and tactics to try something new. We emerge more connected, more conscious, and more compassionate. These concepts will carry us through the new year and beyond. 

What Lies Ahead in 2021

The age of digitization is fully upon us. Consumers have more information than ever at their fingertips and are spending more time researching prior to purchasing. As we understand more about our customers – who they are and how they shop – we as marketers can create more personalized and targeted messaging.

A key marketing strategy for 2021 is adaptability. Opportunities will come and go quickly and retail marketers need to be able to pivot quickly to explore these chances. As such, data-driven solutions will drive us forward. Online events and interactions will remain the norm for some time, but marketers and retailers still need to showcase a human side behind the screen. Our messaging should focus on starting conversations and discussions, of creating a dialogue between us and our customers to be able to better serve them.

Adapting to New Consumer Behavior

The coronavirus pandemic created a boom in online shopping unlike anything we have seen before. New shopper personas are constantly emerging and old personas are constantly evolving as online trends shift and consumers gain more online experience. Pandemic-led shoppers tend to research more and at greater depths prior to making a purchase. During the pandemic, the latency period (time before first website landing and first purchase) went down 10-22% compared to pre-pandemic latency across retail categories. However, people were visiting the website more frequently as they conducted more in-depth research.

These shoppers are focused on value – both economic and social. Modern consumers are frugal; they are breaking brand loyalty in favor of what is available and what is a good deal. Moreso, Gen Z and Millennials expect brands to take a stand on important social issues beyond something performative.

A social-conscious shopper is emerging, as these shoppers prefer to engage with brands who speak up on social issues. Being silent or neutral is no longer a lucrative option for retailers and businesses.

Emotions have always been a driving force behind purchases, but what emotional states and expectations take priority are changing. Namely, consumers are choosing brands and products that promote safety, wellness, and hope and inspiration. These feelings vary by individual so discover what makes your ideal buyer persona feel safe, healthy, and hopeful; use that messaging in your marketing and reinforce the sentiment throughout your brand story.

While the coronavirus pandemic forced a binary of essential vs. nonessential goods and services, what exactly is an essential need also varies by individual. Throughout 2020, NetElixir noted an e-commerce surge in retail industries like pet supplies, home décor, and DIY tools that helped people adjust to the lifestyle changes caused by the pandemic and shutdowns. Hubspot projects that 2021 marketing will be more empathetic. Consumers will resonate with brands and products that continue to offer help and support.

NetElixir’s Predictions on Emerging E-Commerce Trends

The new-to-online shoppers acquired during the coronavirus pandemic exhibit unique behaviors and patterns. As a demographic largely unversed in online shopping, they flocked to e-commerce stores once in-store shopping wasn’t an option. Having crossed that initial online barrier, they are an untapped resource to building your retail brand and e-commerce revenue – as long as you know how to reach them. Therefore, while live consumer data has always been important, it is crucial now more than ever in truly understanding your customer’s needs, wants, and purchase journey in order to meet them at every turn and create a seamless shopping experience.

Mobile engagement is soaring. Mobile sales accounted for 43% of all orders in February, 2020; by December, it was over 55%. Mobile devices now drive over 72% of all website sessions. The reign of desktop may well be over. 

As increased digitization becomes the norm, extended and augmented reality will become an important tool in consumer engagement to extend the retail shopping experience. Consumers may still be hesitant to shop in-store for some time, but still want to simulate that shopping experience or look for something new entirely. 

The role of gaming will increase in 2021. Gaming quickly became a popular hobby during 2020 as a way to pass time, connect with others, and learn new skills. Advertisers and marketers will want to take advantage of this growing platform to reach younger demographics, gain brand visibility, and explore a whole new market.

The most important characteristic a marketer can have, however, is creativity and agility. Through experimentation and innovation, we can discover new ways to meaningfully interact with and help our customers and each other so we can all make 2021 a better year.

Further Resources

For an in-depth discussion of these trends and more, join NetElixir’s brand new webinar, The Future of Retail ECommerce: Trends and Predictions for 2021. We will be live on Thursday, January 14th at 2 PM ET with Udayan Bose, NetElixir’s Founder and CEO, to explore:

  • Why rapid experimentation and creativity are key to effective consumer marketing. 
  • Who is the new pandemic shopper, what defines their consumer behavior and persona, and how your strategy should target them.
  • Why value-conscious shoppers care about a brand’s stance on social issues.
  • Emerging technologies you should leverage for a seamless virtual shopping experience.

Register Now

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