Six partner predictions for 2021

Six partner predictions for 2021

6 minute read

Six of WFA’s strategic partners share their views on what will define marketing for the year ahead

Article details

  • Author:WFA


26 January 2021

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Clockwise from top left: Paul Kemp-Robertson (Contagious), Robin Seasock (Decideware), Nick Waters (Ebiquity), Lucinda Peniston-Baines (The Observatory International), Nick Broomfield (Dentsu SCHEMA), Magid Souhami (Global Data Bank) 

WFA asked industry experts from six of its strategic partners Contagious, Decideware, Dentsu SCHEMA, Ebiquity, Global Data Bank and The Observatory International to identify the trends that will shape the marketing industry this year.

Marketers will need to be both impresarios and ideologists

Paul Kemp-Robertson, Co-founder & Chief Brand Officer, Contagious on the unique challenges that will be posed by 2021:

“Marketers: I hate to tell you this, but 2021 is going to be even more demanding than the biblical turbulence of 2020. All those rapid new rules and reactions you developed in response to the pandemic? They still apply. But every vaccine jabbed into the arms of those people you call consumers is a drumbeat, building to a crescendo of life returning back to normal. And when that happens, you’re going to have to dexterously play the additional roles of impresario and ideologist.

Impresario because this century’s Jazz Age is coming. Liberation from lockdown means that people will be craving live events and seeking access to experiences they can treasure and transmit. Brands are brilliantly placed to offer access and opportunity here, from sponsored gigs to sprinkling magic dust into retail spaces.

Ideologist because capitalism needs a fundamental reset. The biggest challenge facing the planet before Covid-19 blurred the debate is that business is broken. A broad range of voices, including the UN and the IMF are urging a shift from relentless shareholder capitalism towards a stakeholder model, where the needs of employees, suppliers, customers, shareholders and the planet are all taken into account.

Marketers no longer need to be the cheerleader for rampant consumerism. Get ready to extol a smarter, fairer, greener future.”

Show the love or feel the pain

Robin Seasock, Group Account Director, Decideware, Inc. on the need to take a long, hard look at the traditional ways of working:

“When the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Eve, the hardships and anxiety experienced in 2020 did not disappear. The effects of the pandemic will last long after the vaccinations have been administered. Twenty twenty-one will be about self-reflection.   

Employees will be re-assessing their values, work ambitions, safety, security, and quality of life. What was once important may no longer hold the same level of value that it once did. Things won’t go back to “normal” but a new normal will be defined. Employees experienced a different way of working in 2020 and they will establish new expectations with employers. 

Businesses will need to adapt to meet the needs of employees and financial realities. Culture must be redefined and re-established within an organization. As businesses look to secure their financial footing, the health and wellbeing of their employees will take center stage. Society will be dependent on governments and employers to address the lasting effects of the pandemic.”

Cautious optimism, the drumbeat of return to growth

Nick Waters, Group CEO, Ebiquity on the prospects for growth in 2021:

”After the rollercoaster ride of 2020, all predictions for the year ahead should come with a generous pinch of salt.

As brands strive to recover post-pandemic, I am confident that much of what we’ve learnt under pressure this year will endure. Closer collaboration between advertisers and agency partners, increased agility, and faster decision-making are all positive outcomes from highly volatile and unpredictable trading conditions. So, too, is the growing appetite for using near real-time analytics to optimise marketing investments. The more flexibility and agility businesses can embrace, the more opportunity there will be to gain competitive advantage.

With global media events returning – the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics and Euro 2020 – the first six months of 2021 will see cautious recovery, with momentum accelerating in the second half. The base case scenario is that the worst-hit economies will put back 60-70% of what was lost in 2020, although full recovery is unlikely before 2022.”

2021 will see further transformation of brands’ agency roster models

Lucinda Peniston-Baines, Founder & Managing Partner, The Observatory International on the need to adapt your roster model:

“Having the ‘right-fit’ agency model has been a strategic focus for marketing organisations for some years but, in an already fast-moving industry, Covid-19 has changed the shape, size, mix and location of agency talent that marketing organisations need. 

With consumer behaviours changing overnight and forcing changes in business models (D2C being the most notable trend), the need for content is ever increasing and digitisation continues at pace. The ways in which brands operate and interact with their consumer base means traditional processes and structures have been thrown out of the window. Transformation of the business and agency model is no longer an option, it’s essential.

Marketers will need to understand the landscape and source the best possible combination of agency solutions for their marketing organisation, including the in-housing considerations, and ensure ways of working and processes are set up to enable agility and effectiveness.” 

Marketing will pick up the e-commerce baton in 2021

Nick Broomfield, Director & Global Client Lead, Dentsu SCHEMA on the vital role that marketing can play in e-commerce:

“We predict that 2021 will be the year that sees the marketing department take a leadership seat at the digital commerce table, as opposed to simply being copied on the meeting minutes.   

Last year saw a marked increase in e-commerce sales forced on brands by the pandemic, driving the need for businesses to adapt quickly to deliver new routes to market.

This will continue and accelerate into 2021, but with Marketing breaking down siloes and working in much closer collaboration with their Sales and Shopper colleagues than ever before as they seek to design and deliver a more joined up customer experience across channels.

Conversion-focused metrics will take a leading position on campaign briefs, in far better balance with brand-building objectives. This will particularly be the case across digital-based activities and will include paid media – where we will see far more focus on ‘add to basket’ and ‘click to buy’ within creative messaging as brand and performance marketing come together.

In our soon-to-be-published WFA members survey on the ‘Organisation of the Future’ we found that 49% of marketers see e-commerce owned by Marketing by 2023 (vs 35% in 2020), a sure sign of the changes to come. With advances in the use of voice, AR and AI improving the digital commerce experience, it will be the brands that can exploit these opportunities that will win in 2021.”

The new reality for data: ethics, accountability and trust

Magid Souhami, International President, Global Data Bank on the consumer pressure for data transparency:

People now make brand choices driven by not only pricing, quality and distribution but also whether or not a given brand is using their data transparently and responsibly.

Publishers and agencies are realizing it’s not enough to have contracts in place, defining who is accountable. That’s because non-consented data is like polluted water. If one player in the supply chain passes it to the other, then the entire tank everybody drinks from gets contaminated. People need to be able to track what’s happening with data, which is why the Data Safety Index is so sought after.

We see a trend for new apps, which will allow consumers to compare how one brand stacks up vs. its competitor in terms of data usage and best practices.

This is all happening as advertisers, their agencies and publishers are caught in the turmoil of third-party cookies disappearing.

Naturally, they are concerned about not being able to continue using data-driven advertising to reach their consumers but there will be a range of solutions that enable this to continue. We believe that first-party data enhanced with contextual, semantic targeting using Data Safety Index verified sources will be key in 2021.”

If you want to read what the WFA team predicted for 2021 click here.

Article details

  • Author:WFA


26 January 2021

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