Spotting trends in marketing is a tricky enough game, but when you have spent a year changing tack to cater for a nation in lockdown and now are challenged with combining those learnings with the imminent return to some sense of normality, the goalposts seem to be moved yet again. As we enter this "new normal" there are some emerging trends that brands and businesses could and should integrate into their overall thinking.
The gentle return of travel, the opening of pubs and restaurants and the roadmap back to how things used to be are bringing about a feeling of nostalgia, a (somewhat) return to normal. We are reminiscing about past holidays, about how things were pre lockdown and are genuinely excited at the simpler way of life.
Case in point is the "Return to the pub" campaign from Guinness, reminding us of the joys of the simple pint in the pub. This harking back presents a great opportunity for the right brands to capitalise on. Should Polaroid, for example, the ultimate in classic technology look to invest in this sense of nostalgia with activations focused on rose-tinted holidays of old?
In 2014 Air Canada gave Canadians living abroad the ultimate gift imaginable over the festive period. "#ACgiftofhome" afforded homesick residents the chance to be reunited with their loved ones as they surprised drinkers in The Maple Leaf Pub with tickets home for the Christmas holidays. The potential for an airline being the first to harness the pent-up desire for us all to be physically reunited with family not seen since pre lockdown is palpable.
Wrigley's Extra Gum has responded wonderfully in its latest campaign, "Get your ding back", to the stifled desire for the public to get outside and be, well, naughty. Months of too much digital contact and not enough physical contact have turned us all into wide-eyed hedonists who are desperate for our well-deserved fix of engagement. Hotels catering for the wild and carefree will surely benefit from a deluge of party-hungry travellers, and drinks brands associated with good times will be sought after like never before, but they need to harness that latent craving now.
In 2020 consumers switched brands at twice the rate they did the year before, McKinsey found. The challenge to brands to be engaged with consumers on a deeper and more meaningful level with their activations could not be clearer and more relevant.
Short-lived sales initiatives have their place, but they must be paired with genuine brand-building activations to deliver a lasting connection. Take car rental newcomer The Out and its immersive "Break the routine", created by Other.London in partnership with Heritage Arts Company. The chance to be broken free from your daily routine with a secret rendezvous and mystery characters delivers perfectly the level of considered engagement that will win The Out brands fans for life.
Good businesses are good for business
A study conducted by YouGov during the last lockdown highlighted the power of businesses seen to be actively "doing good" in their activations. It showed that British consumers will be more loyal to brands that help people, customers and good causes during Covid-19.
Forty-nine per cent will be more loyal to brands, 31% will be more emotionally connected, 30% will spend more and 24% will recommend brands more. The movement towards business using its collective power for good is something that is not only gaining momentum publicly but also definitely here to stay.
From climate change and diversity to food and fashion The Good Business Festival hosted in Liverpool on the 7-9 July is a platform providing learnings on the power of business to affect positive change. And the facts speak for themselves, businesses that aren't adopting this as an integral, innate aspect of their campaigns will be left behind.
Andrew Rae is the managing director of Another Way