Mental availability and transparency among Carat’s trends for brands in 2021

Carat’s 2021 trends report, released today, highlights the key ways that brands will need to adapt to remain successful in a post-pandemic year.

The theme of the upcoming year is ‘assimilation’, the Dentsu media agency said, with brands needing to spend more time catering to the wellbeing of consumers and operating with high levels of empathy and alertness.

The report split its trends into ‘societal trends’, which focus more closely on human behaviour, and ‘tech and media trends’.

Carat’s chief strategy officer, Linda Fagerlund, said this year’s report was even more important due to the continued impact of the pandemic on business and marketing.

“2020 was a year that we certainly won’t forget, and its lasting impact will continue to be felt in all areas of business and society,” she said.

“It made our 2021 Trends Report this year even more critical to help our clients understand how to navigate these changes and pinpoint the trends that we believe will be here to stay.”

Dominating the list of societal trends were changes largely driven by the pandemic, including new behaviours like BOPIS [buy online pickup in-store], with Carat suggesting that brands need a robust virtual offering in addition to their physical offerings.

With flexible working now in vogue, brands are urged to consider their mental availability to people, with local area marketing becoming more important in the comms mix.

A focus on wellbeing is also a significant trend, with mindfulness becoming more mainstream, so brands must both support people with their wellbeing goals and also reflect those values in their own practices.

Emotional intelligence and transparency, as well as societal actions of brands, are also critical.

It was the first time that ‘societal trends’ were split into a separate category, as national head of strategy and connections planning, Danni Wright, pointed out.

“For the first time in our history of releasing the Carat 10 trends report, we have looked at societal trends in addition to the more traditional media led trends,” Wright said.

“This is reflective of Carat’s focus on understanding the ‘consumers’ we are solving for as real people under our new ‘Designing For People’ positioning. It’s also reflective of the reality that media exists at the heart of culture today and that understanding this intersection is essential to unleash the power and potential of media.”

When it came to tech and media trends, the rise of interactive reality is predicted to be here to stay, with QR codes and augmented reality more than just a novelty for brands.

The subscription model continues to dominate, with question marks coming up about ad-funded models, but the report questions whether consumers having too many subscriptions may lead to financial strain or fatigue.

Big tech companies will continue to consolidate their positions as “one-stop shops”, impacting the smaller players with more specific capabilities.

According to the agency, brands should also: ensure they are shoppable within audio enables platforms like smart speakers; look to ensure their advertising not only doesn’t contain inappropriate content, but also that it doesn’t fund inappropriate content or publishers; and get in on the growth of live-streamed events where physical attendance isn’t possible or allowed.

The report is available in full here.


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