Keep your eyes peeled for these emerging trends highlighted by Global Web Index in 2021.
With 2020 coming to an end, uncertainty still spews among many in the industry as to what kind of changes to expect in 2021. The annual guide by Global Web Index highlights the trends to keep an eye out for in 2021.
A change in the relationship with the city
The pandemic has, without doubt, contributed to a growing desire to escape from the city, but one that’s not so much defined by the movement of people as it is by a shift in the urban mindset. While data from multiple reports show a growing need to migrate from the city, this isn't fueled by fear of the virus but rather by a shift in consumer priorities. Research shows that where people want to relocate is primarily about a change in lifestyle (31%) and a quest for a quieter location (29%) than what the city can offer. 2021 won’t be seeing a drastic change in the physical composition of urban areas, but rather one that reflects a shift in urban mentality.
Marketers still need to pay close attention to the urban mindset and know when to double down on it. The COVID-19 induced lockdown not only gave birth to new habits but also forced many to reflect and value what really matters to them. The nights out with friends transformed into nights in with family; the saved money from the theater and live concert tickets was reinvested in kitting out our homes. Not to mention the enthusiasm about that daily outdoor exercise slot. This doesn’t mean that cities are dead – but the consumers' relationship with them, and what we enjoy about them, has changed.
Behaviors that were mostly associated with suburban or rural culture have now sprawled across cities’ young populations, slowly but surely becoming ingrained into actual consumer interests. Businesses and marketers have a unique opportunity to tap into this new mentality.
The rise in remote working and flexible work hours
Companies are now torn between pre-paring for a full return to the office at some point, and committing to large-scale remote work. Commanding hordes of employees, and seen as trailblazers in their products, it’s easy to look to Twitter and Facebook as role models. But decision-makers are better off relying on peer companies for working-from-home insights, and listening to employees, as demand for flexibility varies significantly by sector.
Industry examples offer useful guidelines, but companies should push some of the power to drive culture onto workers. Creating a cycle of ongoing feedback and demonstrating how it’s implemented is crucial to this process. The pandemic has rapidly accelerated the remote working shift, but barely nudged the trend of flexible work- weeks. Compared to 2019, office staff is 32% more likely to say they have a broad permit to work remotely, but are only 5% more likely to report the same increase in flexible working hours. More importantly, less than a third of workers are broadly permitted to do either – which means we’ve only scratched the surface of this new workplace paradigm that many are already taking for granted.
Given the direction we’re headed, this journey is going to have a huge impact on HR departments, These professionals will soon be on the radar of B2B companies marketing collaboration tools, communication software, and wellness schemes, as their role in managing workplace cultures becomes more intrinsic to a positive employee experience.
Another growing health crisis
Very few predicted 2020 would be defined by a pandemic. But it has sown the seeds for an almost inevitable health crisis in 2021, one for which the world needs to prepare. Physical health and wellbeing is understandably everyone’s biggest priority at the moment. But it’s telling that for most people, mental health is currently more of a concern even than access to a vaccine. As several countries face further lockdowns, the mental strain is set to increase through the start of 2021.
Many were already in a mental health crisis before COVID, and the pandemic has made an urgent and complex problem even worse. Because of this, consumers have been trying to support themselves. Friends and family are the most popular group to reach out to, and social media has proven a boon to many. Consumers have frequently turned to music and TV to relax and de-stress, so media companies are well-placed to help. Streaming platforms could push playlists, shows, and other content tailored for relaxation. Offline activities are a popular way to unwind too, so even deeply digital businesses shouldn’t be afraid to support their consumers with tools to disconnect.