In today’s world, a customer-centric business model is the winner. There is a need for speed in all business areas starting with market research, to product build, to time to market. Mckinsey suggests that “the next-generation business model should be based on anticipating what the consumer wants. Powered by predictive analytics and artificial intelligence, this model would proceed from design to delivery in close to real-time”. Brands like Amazon, chick-Fila, and Patagonia are already on this journey, providing personalized, efficient, and environment-friendly products and services. As we bid farewell to 2020 and prepare to welcome 2021, the people, products, processes, and technology trends that influence consumer behavior need to be understood and considered in the corporate strategic roadmaps. We are experiencing a fundamental shift in the way we live, work, and do business. While some of these changes may be temporary, some are here to stay.
The global pandemic has caused people to become health conscious. Consumers are increasingly leaning towards buying the products that they can trust to be healthier and safe. Clear communication on a product’s health and safety is important in retaining consumers’ interest in 2021. Empathy is imperative in the pandemic. In the mid and post-pandemic world, people are likely to support brands with high Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) and Corporate social responsibility (CSR) ratings. Going into the next year, social issues such as diversity and gender equality will be top considerations in employment and customer loyalty. Edelman’s 2020 special report found that 80% of consumers identify their trust in a brand to “do the right thing” as a major factor in their purchasing decisions. As a result, investors are looking to fund companies that have high ESG and CSR ratings. Talent acquisition is trending towards valuing EQ (Emotional intelligence) over just the IQ. Online shopping and social media people connection is a growing trend that is here to stay. Humanizing the business cause will be critical for a brand’s success in 2021.
In 2021, omnichannel shopping, social media people connection, voice commerce, re-commerce, virtual reality, and mobility will be prevalent. The need for diversity in products from food varieties to cosmetic color shades will be on the rise. Healthy and Do it Yourself (DYI) products will be in high demand. Product personalization will become a norm and visualization via virtual or augmented reality will attract more customers.
Nike’s website is leading the way by providing personalization options for shoes. Online businesses will start offering easy payment plans. Accepting crypto payments will win customer loyalty. Dynamic pricing will remain an effective way to attract shoppers. NBC recently rolled out shoppable TV ads that can connect mobile phone app to the TV programs, enabling viewers to buy on-screen. This feature is believed to save hours of research and marketing, helping brands to boost sales and profit. There has been tremendous growth in P2P (peer-to-peer) marketing platforms. Many retailers are preparing to expand into rental eCommerce by offering consumers the opportunity to rent furniture, clothing, or electronic devices. Businesses are experimenting between offline and online retail models. Rent a Runway is closing all physical stores and planning to go 100% online. Amazon is opening cashier-less stores in the US. Curbside pickup, goods delivered to the home, and smart home assistants like Alexa are becoming our new normal. In 2021, there will be a shift from Digital Customer Experience (DCX) to Total Experience (TX) that will connect customer, employee, and user experiences.
Businesses will continue to need agility and automation to speed up time to market. Cisco adopted the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) and reduced defects by 40% in its releases. Barclays adopted the Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD) approach making the company’s workspaces more collaborative. Gartner predicts that “90% of large organizations globally will have adopted robotic process automation (RPA) in some form by 2022 as they look to digitally empower critical business processes through resilience and scalability while recalibrating human labor and manual effort.” RPA as a Service (RPAaaS) is likely to become mainstream in 2021. Automation leveraging AI, chatbots, and self-service in knowledge management will make contact centers and training more efficient, speeding up customer service. Adopting Business Process Management (BPM) software such as Apian will become essential to increase organization efficiency and save overall business operations costs. Realizing the benefits, some corporates are leaning towards permanently working remotely. Workforce management systems are becoming unbelievably valuable to manage conference rooms and mobile desks for workers.
2021 will see an increased use of autonomous deliveries, smart sensors (IoT), blockchain tracking, and digitization to increase delivery speeds, efficiencies, and cost savings. As different technologies and tools make people’s preferences data available along with location tracking and facial recognition, the Internet of Behavior (IoB) will become prevalent. IoB will house a collection of behavioral events to help with quick responses. Gartner predicts that “by 2023, individual activities of 40% of the global population will be tracked digitally to influence our behavior.” The need for a better digital experience will continue to push boundaries and accelerate emerging technology adoption. 5G is predicted to cover 75% of the US population by 2021. Companies are predicted to invest more on Edge Computing to reduce latency and support personalized content delivery and custom security policies. IDC predicts that the edge computing market worldwide will grow to $250.6 billion by 2024. It will be essential for companies to consider Hyper Automation in their 2021 strategy as RPA, AI, machine learning, and process mining connected will augment human workers and automate business processes in more impactful ways. More companies are likely to invest in Quantum computers that can compute hundreds or thousands of times faster than a classical computer. IBM, Google, and Amazon are some of the Quantum industry leaders. With remote working and digitization, cybersecurity will remain of the top priorities in 2021. Companies will adopt additional security measures to ensure company data safety when accessed remotely to prevent cyber-attacks.
Businesses recovering from the pandemic and looking to achieve differentiation in 2021 must consider these changing trends in their strategies to maintain a strong market position and monetize on the opportunities that the pandemic has created.