Mindgruve joined Digiday’s 2021 Brand Summit in January, which focused on marketing industry evolutions. The biggest marketing themes, more specifically, were bracing for change and putting the consumer first. After 2020, the industry won’t return to a pre-Covid normalcy. Brands will need to adapt, while staying true to who they are. 

Theme 1: Listen to the Consumer 

Speakers honed in on the idea of engagement and insight. First, understanding what consumers do on your website–first party cookies aren’t going away. Then finding ways to engage with them further and more personally with surveys, chat, newsletters and text.

Theresa Do, Sr. Consultant at Gladly, said it’s important to incorporate all communication channels on a website and consolidate conversations. This ensures consumers never have to repeat themselves and gives them options on how they prefer to interact. In other words, Do continued, center around the “human and not the ticket or case.” 

Brands need to “harness data in all its forms in order to keep pace with their highly dynamic and discerning customers,” said Jim Cooper, Editor in Chief at Digiday. 

Theme 2: Follow the Consumer 

Other speakers talked about activating consumers around a common cause, but being careful not to appear opportunistic. A brand with a “soul and the right message, and the right purpose will convert those consumers into advocates,” said Sonika Patel, VP Marketing of Danone. 

Leaders from Activision, a gaming company, discussed respecting consumers’ time. Similarly, the Chief Futurist of Ford, Sheryl Connelly, presented a trends report to illustrate how society is changing. People are more stressed and mental health needs to be a priority. Brands need to also consider the needs of working parents more than ever before. Online retail is way up and curbside shopping is expected. More broadly, in some cases, people don’t want to go back to the way things were. 

The Chief Brand Office of General Mills talked about how partnerships, or  influencers, bring purpose and authenticity to brands. If brands don’t understand what’s going on with culture, they’ll fall behind.

The question for every brand becomes: how should its marketing strategy evolve to better reflect current culture and connect with customers? 

Theme 3: Diversification 

The age-old advice to “diversify a portfolio” rings true now more than ever for brands. In this volatile market, it’s important to test new opportunities while respecting a core vision and preparing for change.

Of course, the biggest impending transition is the death of cookies and Apple’s IDFA. Consumers are more aware of tracking and, as a result, more wary. When cookies are finally a thing of the past and they opt out of sharing their data, marketers will be forced to diversify their media mix, rethink reporting and measurement and optimize targeting methods. In many ways, the industry is building the plane while it’s flying. 

Marketers are looking for alternatives to Facebook, and it’s no surprise to see TikTok working on rolling out ecommerce options in 2021. Not to mention Walmart’s new DSP, coming in 2H 2021.

“Low CPMs are no longer your friend if you’d like your business to survive. Content that is authentically rendered to enhance the customer experience is.” These were the parting words from Cooper. 

For more information about the Digiday Brand Summit, or how to evolve your marketing strategy, contact us