If you’re itching for life to return to something resembling ‘normal’, we’re right there with you. The chaos for 2020, and now in 2021, speaks for itself, right?

Trying to predict the future right now may just seem like a guessing game – the pandemic has dramatically changed consumers’ attitudes and behaviours, upending brands’ plans and marketing strategies and laying the foundations for prolonged periods of uncertainty.

Marketers need to think differently about what the consumer in the ‘new normal’ will think, feel, say and do – and brands have to practically pivot in real-time to adjust to what the new future may be.

To help you understand what the ‘new normal’ might look like, we’ve broken down five key trends we’ve come across to keep your eye on. Some of them are meaningful accelerations of existing ones, some are only just emerging now.

1. Content becomes ‘real’

A surprising by-product of the pandemic has been a recent boom in influencer marketing. People today are craving personal connections and a feeling of authenticity from the brands they support.

Followers are increasingly seeking raw, unfiltered content, which they currently relate better to than the glitzy holiday backdrops influencers used to use. Particularly the younger generations are shifting their focus towards influencers they admire. And especially for those in lockdowns (like us here in Sydney), any form of human connection is welcomed – even if it is in the form of an ad.

2. Combating the “Doomscrolling” Phenomenon

Yep, we’ve all done it – mindlessly scrolling through Instagram, with little focus and little gained… procrastination perhaps? Well, brands are looking to shake up this ‘doomscrolling’ with fresh, genuinely engaging content that stops serial scrollers in their tracks.

This explains why video ads grew by over 18% in 2020. Creative advertisers are turning to animation, colour and *eye-popping* imagery to draw consumers’ attention amidst the vast array of content on their screens. Video ads, for example, have become increasingly popular in social campaigns year-after-year, and the pandemic isn’t slowing that momentum down.

3. Community: Higher Social Justice Stakes

The closure of travel and isolation restrictions have made our local neighbourhoods much more important. Community social-media pages and support forums have emerged, and people are showcasing their efforts.

Like never before, consumers are calling on brands to lead the fight against COVID-19, support the vulnerable, and take a stance on important social issues in the community. Empathy and support are now an essential part of many campaigns and brands seeking to expand their connections with consumers can reap benefits by educating on what they’re doing to help the community navigate through the crisis.

4. BOOM in user-generated content

In digital marketing, user generated content or ‘UGC’ for short refers to content users themselves generate. Although it’s not a new concept, UGC has grown in 2021.4 The experiences of ordinary users can act as social proof for other consumers because they are authentic, relatable and reliable.

Companies are using UGC in marketing strategies to build trust – people tend to trust people they perceive as more like them than brand advertising alone. Brands can repost stories of users mentioning their product, launch challenges, publish user reviews or create exclusive groups of debates and contributions to the brand.

5. Content becomes all about you!

 After a year of social distancing, interaction has taken to our screens. Brands have started to invest in more interactivity to create human involvement. Quizzes, calculators, ebooks, infographics, and interactive videos are just some examples of cool content that can create interest in the user’s attention for a while (or until the ‘doomscrolling’ recommences).

Right now, it’s crystal clear that digital marketing is a proven, cost-effective avenue for reaching consumers. The quicker you’re able to recognise and adapt to the online landscape, the better.

Either way, feel free to contact us at Cube if you’re interested in learning more about how to ensure you can maintain longevity in the ever-evolving digital world – we get it, things are different right now.