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4 changes that are here to stay

Regardless of which sector they belonged to, all brands had to rethink their approach and strategies during the pandemic. A brief analysis of 2020 allows us to specify which were the most significant changes and what we have learned about what is to come.

Over the past year, as the entire world was reeling from the effects of the pandemic, many companies had to rethink their daily tasks amid the confusion to determine how to move forward, and even if they should. Some sectors, such as travel, faced egregious disruptions. Others, like online retailers, found growth opportunities.

Regardless of the industry, all companies had to decide what was the best approach to marketing. We all spent most of the year rethinking how we did everything. With this in mind, we thought it would be useful to analyze the past year to spot some of the biggest changes and trends that are here to stay.

1. Consumption habits have completely changed

When isolation measures were implemented around the world, people had to try to get what they needed where they could. But with stores completely closed or out of stock (remember the runs for toilet paper and hand sanitizer?), They went searching for answers. Search interest from retail sites increased rapidly around the world in the first few months. For example, searches with the phrase "in stock" had an increase of + 60% in Argentina between the end of July and the end of October 2020.1 In turn, as people began to limit their trips to the stores of food, search interest for phrases such as "can be frozen" and "home delivery" grew around the world.

There was also a significant state of financial anxiety. According to a BCG report, in South American countries, 80% of consumers sought to reduce their total spending to increase their ability to save (63%), because they were concerned about the future (48%) or due to payments. debt (43%). Likewise, 84% of consumers in South America are willing to change brands based on the existence of promotions.

A more general look at searches over the past year shows that people were looking to take control of what they could at a time of great uncertainty. Searches for "online learning" increased as people with children sought inspiration, solutions, and practicality. In turn, with the gyms closed, on YouTube, the search interest for “stretching” in Mexico, “training at home” in Argentina, and “yoga” in Colombia increased significantly.

People also began looking for more ways to make connections in a world that had completely disconnected them from their previous lives. And this behavior has not disappeared.

The change that became permanent: To better respond to rapid changes in consumer behavior, brands developed real-time statistics tracking strategies, shared their statistics within their organizations, and established new processes to quickly take action against discoveries. This new reality will ensure that brands are positioned to lead their initiatives through statistics.

2. Events became virtual

Cannes. Automobile programs. Even Google Marketing Live. A host of major events and conferences were unexpectedly canceled last year, and event marketing teams had to rethink everything. However, while "digital events" seemed to be the easiest answer, not all of them could be successfully translated into the virtual environment.

And although many organizers wanted to broadcast their virtual events live (or as close as possible to this modality), in practice, so many companies carried out live broadcasts that potential attendees suffered an excess of events of this type, especially if we consider that most of them were already spending most of their working day at home and, particularly, in virtual meetings.

The change that became permanent: There is no doubt that live events will happen again, but they will be different. People will think twice if they need to travel when they can easily access it from their living room. And that means events should be designed to deliver an experience that stands out.

3. Work moved home

Even before social distancing and the stay-at-home recommendation, the home was already becoming the logistical headquarters for busy people who wanted to make better use of their time. Online searches and shopping habits before the pandemic already indicated a desire to spend more time on activities that provide joy, pleasure or comfort, rather than spending hours in traffic jams or lines at the grocery store. However, with their entire teams working remotely for an indefinite period, companies began looking for ways to preserve a sense of community and foster inclusion.

The change that became permanent: The office-based work model probably changed forever, changing consumer habits and work culture. For companies, this shift means they must find ways to meet people's most basic needs while promoting a more resilient workforce.

4. Online shopping became the norm

E-commerce had already started steady growth, but in 2020, online shopping received a huge boost fueled by need. There was a significant increase in the number of people willing to buy food, clothing, and even cars online.

Ultimately, what buyers are looking for is help. When users actively seek such help in the digital environment, companies equipped with the right tools to interpret indicators of intent and implement the right marketing plans are the ones that can most easily meet that need.

The change that became permanent: All over the world, people discovered online shopping for the first time or simply increased their confidence in this modality. Door withdrawals and personal shopper programs are becoming part of the norm. And these new and more convenient habits will definitely transcend the pandemic.

It's time to rethink what it means to be ready

The agility necessary to implement changes and the resilience acquired from survival are factors that brought the focus to the most basic needs. Brands that base their strategies on statistics maintained agility through automation and made decisions based on data. As a result, those brands not only survived into the past year, they grew as well.

In the aftermath of the pandemic, businesses have more consumer indicators, are better equipped to take action based on this information, and can reach higher standards to accomplish all of this more responsibly than ever. Still, the disruptions and uncertainty are not over, so companies have yet to rethink the concept of readiness. As we look to the rest of the year, we must work to imagine a new version of what it means to meet the needs of consumers, even despite fluctuations and ongoing volatility.

By Zharmer Hardimon

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