John Blyth, marketing and communications manager for the CIP Group, shares the key trends he thinks will shape 2021

1. Online shopping

“This relates to the stimulus that the coronavirus has provided — remaining at home in 2020 led older age groups to approach online shopping, as well as younger people, and there will be no going back, with high levels of e-commerce becoming the norm across European society’s different demographics. Consumer insight platform Attest reports that 68.9% of Brits say they’re now more likely to shop online, and for business-to-business purchasing too. All of which means that brands need to raise their game as far as the online user experience is concerned — the browsing and ordering process needs to be as smooth, enjoyable, and convenient as possible.

2. Sustainability

The pandemic has forced consumers to reassess or double down on their attitudes to the environment, as they saw some positive results and the planet start to recover. Sustainability will be a burning topic in 2021, as consumers fear that recent gains will be lost. Brands will be expected to play their part — those showing commitment to the cause are likely to have the upper hand.

3. Social re-evaluation

In adjacent territory is the shift to the foreground of social causes and the quest for social justice. People at home reflecting on the state of society are increasingly not satisfied, and they expect the brands to whom they give their loyalty to share their values and concerns. To illustrate this, the GWI consumer trends report for 2021 showed 41% of consumers want brands to put more focus on supporting social causes.

4. DIY Innovation

This is perhaps more left field than the trends outlined so far — people facing different challenges to the ones of the pre-coronavirus world have shown remarkable ingenuity. They have found life hacks, improvised and worked around in both their private and working lives. The phenomenon has found expression in the surge in new business start-ups for example. Organisations need to tap into the DIY revolution, innovating in such a way that their offerings become platforms on which third parties can adapt. Co-creation is the way ahead, and a more ecosystem-oriented approach to innovation.

5. Work Evolution

The contract between employer and employee is being reframed as workers who once travelled daily to their workplace are now effectively living in their office. To preserve and enhance wellbeing and productivity, employers can innovate in the areas of technology where investment in digital transformation can revolutionise work from home experiences, team collaboration and connectivity with central databases and customers. Companies that invest can emerge triumphant. Also, culture: as virtual teams interact in different ways to co-located teams. Ad hoc communications should be encouraged therefore to foster camaraderie and combat isolation.

6. Safety First

It’s no surprise that personal safety and protection will be a priority around Europe in 2021. Safety, it can be argued, is the new wellness movement. The fear of infection and increased health awareness will drive demand for hygiene products, contactless solutions and experiences, free from inherent risk.

7. Memorable Moments

Lastly, home has become the new storefront, but without the buzz and thrill that comes with the instore purchase experience. This means an opportunity is forming for brands able to create a memorable moment. Personalisation and supply chain solutions can contribute here to make a distinctive experience that gives competitive edge. As the Fjord Trends 2021 report from Accenture succinctly puts it: “The way we get hold of things changed in 2020, and it’s becoming more important to deliver joy right through to the last moment”.

So, seven diverse trends – many of them interdependent and complementary. All of them important. The list is not definitive. The future isn’t. But it may serve as a working synthesis of what is heading our way. Strap yourself in – 2021 is upon us.”