Marketing trends to watch out for in 2021

6 trends in marketing


Dr. Sachin Lele

3 years ago | 4 min read

2020 has been a year of ‘forced transformation’. Thanks to COVID-19, our lives witnessed an unprecedented disruption. The way we work, way we party and engage socially…everything has changed.

This sudden change in our lifestyle made industry leaders rethink their business strategies. The historically successful concepts of customer engagement, consultative selling and customer relationship management are under the scanner now.

Would there be changes in the way we market our products? Would ‘the new normal’ become permanent?

And which trends in marketing would lead the discussion in 2021? Let us have a look!

#trend 1: The Omni Channel Buzz:

The omni-channel strategy helps in delivering personalized customer experience by the seamless integration of all possible mediums of communication.

Especially after 2018, the thought leaders in marketing started considering Omni-channel as a potential weapon for improving customer centricity and loyalty.

Seamless interaction amongst various channels of information and the potential to reach a wider audience can help marketers capture customer value in a better way.

With the traction of the online, offline, and physical medium of customer interactions, Omni-channel and its impact on customer engagement is expected to be the talk of 2021.

#trend 2: Online Vs Offline or blended?

After the success of D2C (Direct to Consumer) model by Fit & Glow and Bombay Shaving Company, the debate over the preferred medium for customer outreach has gained momentum.

The online model provides relatively easier reach to a targeted audience but needs a strong brand pull. On the other hand, traditional channels do help in a brand push and provide scale but gulp considerable resources.

Even though the suitability of a particular channel would be case-specific, COVID-19 has forced traditional FMCGs and retailers to reconsider their online distribution strategy.

Since 65% of the population resides in rural India, the feasibility of the online model and the possible evolution of a hybrid model (offline, supported by online) would definitely be on the platter of marketing strategists in 2021.

#trend 3: Emergence of s-commerce:

According to RedSeer consulting, social commerce in India is expected to reach a GMV (Gross Merchandise Value) of USD 7 billion by 2025.

With 310 million Facebook users and 120 Instagram subscribers, India is poised to lead the s-commerce revolution. Compared to e-retailing, these platforms provide better interaction and engagement between buyers and sellers for a varied set of product categories.

Especially for used goods and local services, s-commerce is expected to be a game-changer. Platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram are offering video-based product sales opportunity, which is a trending thing in Tier II, III Indian cities.

The growth potential of s-commerce and its collaboration with the e-commerce ecosystem is expected to remain a buzzword for the next couple of years.

#trend 4: Niche pockets Vs Pan-geography reach:

Strategic think-tanks in marketing are always divided on this point. Whether to have maximum coverage on all possible territories or to remain a region/category specific player is a long-debated topic.

While Britannia, Parle and ITC chose the full market coverage in India’s biscuits market, Unibic focused on urban pockets and cookies segment. Larger coverage provides economies of scale while being ‘niche’ helps in delivering solutions specific customer expectations.

With the advancement of technology and digital media, creating and maintaining sustainable competitive advantage in either of these options is a big challenge.

Would my product portfolio be offering at least ‘something’ to all or would cater to ‘specific needs of a particular segment’?’ This debate is expected to continue in years to come.

#trend 5: Capturing the voice of the customers:

Undoubtedly marketing strategies work on dynamic human behavior. Impulsive or planned, every consumer decision is a complex process. Companies invest millions to find out “what do the customers want?”

Traditional tools such as interviews, surveys, opinion polls, live chats have limitations in terms of sub-conscious understanding of human behavior. As a result, new-age technologies such as ‘Consumer Neuroscience’ have gained significant attention from the marketing fraternity.

This branch studies reaction of the human brain to a certain picture or a video and gauges emotional appeal, stress level and ultimately, the possibility of a consumer’s buying decision.

But being in a nascent stage, its application and effectiveness in terms of decoding human decision making and predicting the success of a product would continue to be in the discussion.

#trend 6: From celebrity endorsement to influencer marketing:

Celebrity endorsement is not new. Last few years, influencer marketing has gained an advantage due to its potential to interact and engage with the target audience effectively.

Influencers usually have domain expertise in a particular subject and are being followed by the customers, belonging to the same set of attributes. While celebrities can help in enlarging the brand coverage, influencers can prove effective in actual product purchase.

Moreover, influencers have an upper hand in terms of gaining trust and confidence of the targeted audience. So, when celebrities can give you mass appeal, influencers work effectively in managing customer engagement.

Since today’s customer needs a personalized brand experience, a debate over celebrity Vs Influencers would become intense in 2021.

After the eventful year of 2020, the marketing fraternity is busy with understanding the new normal situation and its possible impact on the way customers would buy and consume the products.

However, COVID or post-COVID, the everlasting charm of ‘capturing and delivering customer value’ would continue till eternity…


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Dr. Sachin Lele

I am a professor in marketing and online customer-centricity. I consult various organizations on marketing strategies and consumer behaviour studied. Do follow me so some great insghts.







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