As we start 2021, we can only hope they’ll be some improvement on 2020, a year of crisis.

Every year, we resolve to improve on what went wrong in the previous year. With 2020 presenting us with so many unprecedented challenges, expectations are especially high,  with a desire to revert back to reality and a settled existence.

Whether this will actually happen is open to question and some doubts subsist. For brands 2021 presents plenty of challenges, notably consume inspiration.

Trends are plentiful, though we would like to draw your attention to three that seem particularly important:

 

1) Reliability

With rules, habits and plans changing every week, life as we know it has been turned on its head. That’s why reliability has become a cherished value. Who or on what can we rely on? This is a legitimate question for many consumers and never more so than in the year to come.

We know that brands can play a fundamentally important role through reliability and dependability in turbulent times. Two Swiss retailers, Migros and Coop showed the way in 2020. Their stores were open at all times, were seldomly out of stock and in a flash managed to install hygiene measures for staff and consumers. The bar has been set high,  nothing will change in 2021 and we know consumers appreciate brand consistency in brand performance.

Whatever happens externally,   brands need to radiate an inner strength and show the way. If this is well understood by consumers,  brands will attract new customers and convert existing ones into product champions. How come? When the going gets tough,  they can be relied upon.

 

2) Adaptability

The environment in 2020 has gone through so many mutations, paradigms have been shattered and changes people thought were never possible, happened virtually overnight.

The forces released have put pressure on those brands that are unable to adapt and they risk going out of business. However, more nimble players, the pragmatists and flexible ones have discovered new opportunities.

This trend will continue in 2021 and potentially intensify. Therefore, brands must adapt quickly and come to terms with this new landscape.

Take the European dairy market over the last two years and the strong emergence of veggie based alternatives. Traditional players such as Danone and Emmi have launched their own ‘veggie’ lines and are now catering to the vegan market.

Adapt or die should be the new motto. Of course, all this requires a lot of quick courageous decision making and the quicker the better. This gives brands a chance to adapt in a fast moving environment and this adaptability is a basic driver for sustainable success in 2021, whether you are a global, regional or local player.

 

3) Future orientation

The truly successful brands in 2021 will be taking steps and carefully planning for the coming years.

Forget the past. New forces have been unleashed and are likely to accelerate. More than ever,  the trends that emerge must be understood and translated into concrete action.

The new reality will be shaped by brands that innovate and identify tomorrow’s needs with the market share ‘land grab’ happening in 2021. Take the automotive industry and the e-mobility revolution market, well shares are being carved out.

 

New trends may well emerge in the course of the year that are already in the pipeline.  Therefore,  it’s incumbent on all brands to have their antennas out to respond to the early signals and get a competitive advantage. Those that hark back to the ‘good old days’ or that are too insular, are in for rough time.

In 2021 more than ever, brands have to develop their strategic insight, creativity and innovative flair!

 

Uli Haist, Head of Innovation & Strategy Logic Design Switzerland