WARC’s Toolkit Looks Ahead to 2021

[18 December]

WARC has published its annual Marketer’s Toolkit for 2021, a guide to the trends and challenges of the coming year.  Carrying out a survey on a range of topics and featuring third party research from throughout the year, we have outlined some key points from the report for the year ahead.

62% of the toolkit respondents are optimistic about the year ahead and expect 2021 to be better than this year. While marketing budgets will remain lower than pre-pandemic times, nearly six in ten anticipate some budgetary improvements next year. WARC points to opportunities for brands to maintain investment in brand building. For those who can, brands that increase marketing budget during times of uncertainty recover considerable faster as consumer confidence returns. WARC outlines how brands in a position of strength will have an unprecedented opportunity for share of market growth.

Value Driven

In 2021 consumers will be driven and focused on getting the greatest possible value – in terms of efficacy, quality and reliability.

Asking respondents to the toolkit survey what areas their brand is adopting to respond to this desire for value; marketers will be focusing ad spend on specific product lines (33%), running price promotions and sales (30%) and reducing product portfolio (21%). Four in ten say they are developing new products to cater for post-pandemic consumer preferences.

New Consumer Habits

The report also outlines how marketers will be focusing on new consumers habits. Three quarters of the brands and agencies surveyed said post-pandemic behaviour is having a significant impact on strategy for 2021. The shift to increased time at home (52%), demand for greater value (36%) and re-evaluation of lifestyle choices (32%) as well as a focus on health and hygiene (29%) are just some of the factors that marketers are assessing when looking to 2021.

Local is a Key Consideration

A decline in travel and leisure spend is a concern for marketers; 32% said consumer cutbacks in this type of spending was having an impact on the planning. As a result, the toolkit looks at how local areas will be a key consideration for marketers in 2021.

Consumers have a newfound awareness of their local communities and areas. The report references location and Posterscope’s ‘Mobility Mindset’ research that showed 65% of UK consumers are paying more attention to what is going on in their local areas since the pandemic and are placing value on the outdoor space around them.

And as they look to their local communities, many consumers feel a need to support them. Research from McKinney showed that 63% of consumers said they were trying to shop locally to support small businesses.

Marketers Revisit Brand purpose

The upheaval of 2020 has seen brand purpose gain new relevance in the marketing industry. More than three-quarters (78%) of respondents to WARC’s Marketer’s Toolkit survey believe that purpose is now more important.

Health and Hygiene

The toolkit survey revealed that health and hygiene concerns will have an impact on marketing plans in 2021 (74%).  A Euromonitor survey reports that 90% of global consumers agree the COVID-19 has made people more aware of the importance of immunity. While another research study showed three quarters of consumers are trying to eat healthier as a result.

The pandemic has made health and hygiene a necessity for everyone with WARC emphasising the point that brands have a role to play in supporting healthy lifestyles and wellbeing.