For most of us – to work out what’s going to happen in 2021 is going to include a great big dollop of hope, wishful thinking and an effective crystal ball.  In a year (2020), that has been anything but predictable, it’s a given that most of us will not enter the new year unscathed. Here are some of the findings from Deloitte’s Global Marketing Trends 2021 report – based on surveys and data and not our best guess!

One core thing to note: trust and brand loyalty are becoming more interlinked, whilst consumers expect brands to be able to change and pivot quickly in these unprecedented circumstances.

The report is devised from two surveys: the first, nearly 2,500 adult consumers across North America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia; the second, over 400 C-suite executives (including senior marketers), from U.S. global companies.

The Deloitte report finds agile marketing and genuine authenticity are seen as key factors as brands must meet human needs and not be tone-deaf to the current situation.

Particularly interesting is the number of executives who’ve questioned their ability to influence their colleagues and make a positive strategic impact. In the case of CMOs (Chief Marketing Officers), the percentage of confident executives fell from a diminutive 5% last year to 3% this year (to put this in perspective, CEOs saw a fall from 55% to 35%).

Conversely, consumers were positive on how brands have approached the current situation: “Almost four in five people could cite a time a brand responded positively to the pandemic and one in five strongly agreed it led to increased brand loyalty on their part.”

The 7 top trends

The specific top trends identified by the report, said Deloitte are, “breaking out of our often defensive mindsets to more holistically — and authentically — meet human needs.”

  1. Why: Successful brands that grow over the next year will be those that know why they exist, their purpose and the audience/s they serve. “Companies which know “why” they serve their stakeholders are uniquely positioned to navigate unprecedented change.”
  2. Flexible: This is a season for innovation in marketing and creativity over brands hiding away and burying their heads in the sand. Successful marketers will be those who implement agile marketing strategies and stand out in their sector.
  3. Relational: Building relationships and ‘real’ connections is now more important than first-to-market or efficiency. Loyalty is a critical success factor.
  4. Trust: Trust is generated through kept promises, honesty and transparency. Clear communication and messaging is essential, as is being consistent and reliable. There will also be a shift in targeting from demographics to shared beliefs and values.
  5. Engagement: Engaging with customers beyond the surface level is key, creating effective 2-way dialogue and generating brand-relevant content is essential.
  6. Fusion: There will be a growth in the number and quality of innovative business partnerships. Brands will be working together to create a better customer experience and to drive new innovations in the levels of service or product quality.
  7. People: Marketing teams need to adapt to the changing digital environment and have the people in place to deliver flexibility of skills and gain a competitive edge. Traditionally, these roles include those responsible for data insights, dynamic content creation, and owned and earned media.

In a nutshell, brands need to be more customer-centric and this should be reflected in all of their engagements with their audiences. They should be value-led, flexible in their marketing approach and engender trust, and demonstrate their shared values at every touchpoint. Making the most of the gig economy, they can buy in the skills they need – focusing on creativity and innovation and putting their ‘heads above the parapet’.

To download the full report, visit: