The past two years have had some huge changes, but in 2021 specifically, what we really noticed was the harsh impact that 2020 had. It showed us our habits, how our mindsets shifted, how we operate at work, but most of all our buying behaviours changed.
Here are our key takeaways and what we think will be important moving into 2022.
1. Technology was, and still is, at the forefront
What we implement to manage staff and our internal system is crucial. With most of the population working remotely, the technology we used within our workplaces was put front and centre on how well we could and would operate as businesses. Rolling on from 2020, we saw a rapid rise in what programs people would use to transition their offline processes to an online format. How is this part of branding? Well, it’s a significant part of the customer experience and how someone interacts with your brand. This shapes their perception which inevitably creates a good part of your brand reputation.
The winners here? People who were already well in front of the game, prior to the pandemic. While those who weren’t up to standard scrambled to get on top of it all, those already there got to focus on bringing in the coin. Moral here? Move with the times because it moves fast.
2. People turned to their devices
With nowhere to go, people were always online. Scrolling and digesting copious amounts of content. Cue the rise of video marketing – TikTok and Reels. While the younger gen and early adopters were all over this, the pandemic saw the mass population begin to immerse themselves (and it’s still rising). If you don’t know about ‘the adoption curve’ now is your time to learn. It starts with the innovators, moves to early adopters, then early majority, late majority, and then laggards (late adopters). What this curve indicates is how we as a population join a trend or immerse ourselves in technology, and as business owners, we want to always try to be in the ‘early adopter/early majority’ stage.
Back to the key point, those who noticed, or better yet predicted, the rise in device usage would’ve had their ducks in line to reap the benefits. Be that a sound online eCommerce platform, paid ads strategy (dollar spend was low here, so this was a big opportunity), social strategy and implementation, email marketing etc.
This brings us to our next point.
3. Marketing matters
In a time when people are consuming huge amounts of content, quality over quantity strategy matters. And so does consistency. Understanding your foundations as a brand and communicating your values alongside your key offerings in both strategic and tactical ways would have been a huge advantage. In a time when people need things quickly, having quality marketing material that cuts through would cement in the mind of the consumer. So too, would those who have had consistent messaging over a long time.
When it comes to buying behaviours, becoming one of the final selections in the decision-making process is key. Put it this way, and we’re all different, if you were to buy a TV right this minute, what 3 brands would you think of? The answer to us doesn’t matter, but from your point of view, those 3 selected brands you just thought of came to your top of mind. This means they either have a good brand reputation, or they’ve done their job in the continuation of marketing by becoming part of the unconscious selection process.
That is what we should all strive for in our marketing. To be the ‘go to’
4. Humanising and empathy in brand messages
We saw it all when the pandemic hit ‘we’re all in this together’. This was a strategy by most brands because let’s face it, who wants to hear a generic marketing message like ‘buy 1 get 1 free’ when the whole world has just shut down with uncertainty, a 1 in 100 year pandemic, and people dying? The empathetic skew was the only way. BUT what we did see was the continuation of empathy. While this is no new tactic, the timing and placement of these messages have been hugely important.
Likewise with humanising a brand to feel, well… human. Gone are the days where people want to interact with a faceless entity. They want to know everything about a brand; where their products are made and manufactured, how well they treat their staff, what political agendas they align with. People are heavily focused on supporting brands that align with their own personal values, even if they don’t see it. We buy Thankyou handwash because we know that the purchase contributes to supporting a much bigger cause. We buy ‘Made in Australia’ because we want to support our own. Communicating these aspects of a brand and doing it in a way that speaks on the same level can do wonders, try it.
What we think 2022 will highlight?
One thing is for sure, the ability to adapt and move away from previous goals was something a lot of businesses needed to do. Strategising different avenues to explore should one not succeed as expected, should always be part of a growth plan. Being able to quick think and have a solution in place should something happen will be in most businesses handbooks moving into the new year. What we saw in those who were able to change direction quickly, was that they were the ones who reaped the reward.
This year there has been a big emphasis on workplace culture. The damning report that came out of Canberra this year showed how important it is to stay on top of all aspects of culture, ESPECIALLY from the top down. How businesses open the doors on conversations that lead to change in the way we work to provide stable and safe environments for everyone is what we should all be striving for. This applies to every facet of the business from inclusion, diversity, equality or more importantly equity. As we move forward as people, how we listen, learn and act will be of huge importance in the way we work.
This leads us to the next point.
Flexibility, especially for women in the workplace
As we stayed inside, it became evident how ‘much’ work women needed to do when schools were closed. Most households had the mother home-schooling and working simultaneously. This could be largely due to the manual labour force being men, but either way, it showed that the need for flexibility in the workplace was needed, especially for women to conduct both professional and domestic duties. With this at play, it set women back, yet again, in their careers. Most women report significant burnout.
We as businesses need to do better moving forward. Here at YO&O, we’re already raising our hands to provide as much balance as we can in this arena.
For a bit more insight, here is a great article on Women’s Agenda called “Burnout and confidence are real concerns for women on path to achieving their ambitions”.
Video is here to stay
Don’t be like the folk who once thought that social media was ‘just a trend’. With so many people utterly time-poor, video is proving to us all how successful it is by communicating something quickly and visually. Of course, just like anything it needs to communicate value or an objective to be successful. And yep, it may feel uncomfortable, but this is where people get to see the face of the people behind the brand and connect on a deeper level. There is so much more you can do in a video that can showcase the ‘essence’ of personality. And, if being in front of the camera is a hard no, get creative, just don’t miss the boat and end up in that ‘laggards’ (late adopter) stage we listed above.
As we move into 2022, use the time to plan and structure out things that work well and things that don’t. Focus on how the brand can improve and what you can do about it.
Until then, let’s bring on the new year and hope all the bad stuff is behind us.
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