If there is one thing we have learned from the year that has just ended, it is that the future is still a variable over which technological progress will never have control, and that all human foresight stands on uncertain and unpredictable ground.
We do not yet know how the Covid-19 pandemic will evolve, or what the year that has just begun will be like, but we can identify certain trends that already manifested themselves during 2020 and that will continue to consolidate and be present in the digital strategies of this new normal.
People and technology, physical and digital, human interactions and virtual assistants: let’s discover what will be the 7 trends that we must not lose sight of in the year that begins.
1. People are the center
According to Deloitte , one of the main trends of the new year will be the return to the importance of relationships and human experiences and the recovery of the value of the person and their needs.
When social distance, new technologies and digitization become protagonists of daily life in such a rapid and radical way as the one we have seen in 2020, it is not surprising that, by any response, the demand for a return to a vision of Human-centric reality and a renewed importance of human and social relationships .
New technologies , in fact, as useful as they are in many ways, are showing more and more explicitly that they cannot compensate for human interactions that, in 2020 more than ever, have made us understand, with their absence, how important What are they.
Bringing people back to the center of strategic decisions will therefore not only be a trend, but a mandatory action for companies that want to adapt to the new normal.
Brands have two ways of reorganizing in this direction:
- rethink values . The human experience is guided by values, and it is these that determine the emotions and actions we undertake. 95% of our purchase decisions are based on unconscious needs, among which we mainly find our emotions. For this reason, companies must begin to rethink the values and mission on which they are based and that they share with their public. This will be reflected in an increase in trust that characterizes the relationships between companies and users and that forms the basis of the human experience:
- redesign the infrastructure itself to respond to the true needs of people. Like any crisis that is respected, this health emergency has activated the needs for change and innovation. Many brands have responded to the crisis and have taken the opportunity to self-analyze and redesign internal policies and processes in order to get closer to their audience, analyze and understand the new demands to meet emerging needs and restore the importance of human relationships.
2. Conversational marketing and chatbot
The physical distancing and the absence of connections have given rise to the need to find new forms of dialogue between companies and users and have made us aware of the importance of conversations as a form of bond. Today more than ever, consumers are looking for a one-to-one relationship with companies through which their customer experience is more meaningful and personalized if possible, making them understand the fundamental importance of conversational marketing.
Digitization and technological progress will be confirmed, also in 2021, as valid allies to enhance digital conversational marketing strategies: the use of chatbots and new technologies such as Voice over Internet Protocols (VoIP) or call centers Based on Artificial Intelligence, already last year they have begun to change the way in which companies interact with consumers, making possible new forms of assistance and dialogue without limits of time and space and increasingly customizable.
This trend is bound to be with us this year too: Gartner predicts that by 2030 chatbots will automatically pick up 1 billion requests and it is estimated that by 2025 the chatbot market will exceed $ 1 billion in the United States alone.
The convergence between physical and digital will undoubtedly be another trend of this 2021.
We hear more and more about phygital, the integration between forms of traditional retail and digital experience through a multi-channel approach.
Tools such as QR code readers on billboards, restaurant menus or Amazon Go, the supermarket without checkouts or ATMs that Amazon launched in 2018, are some of the examples of a phygital approach seen so far.
With the phygital we will try to combine the best of the physical world (interactions with people and the concrete encounter with products / services) with the best of virtual reality , (immediacy, more possibilities to choose, speed) to create an experience customer service as complete and satisfactory as possible.
Physical and digital will therefore be increasingly connected and interdependent so that the user is more and more free to choose where to live each phase of their customer experience. To ensure this integration, the three key factors will be immediacy, immersion capacity and interactions, in addition to the adoption of a multichannel digital strategy as a prerequisite.
4. Augmented reality
When talking about the fusion between the physical and digital dimensions, one cannot fail to mention augmented reality, another trend that we will see confirmed in 2021.
By augmented reality or AR (Augmented Reality), we mean any digital output (images, text, 3D models) that is superimposed on the reality that surrounds us . This mechanism can occur in different ways: through the screen of a smartphone, special viewers or smart glasses.
It is a technology that can be advantageous for many sectors: from health care to education, through the world of video games and travel.
From the point of view of the retail trade and the buying habits of this new year, augmented reality will represent the tool with which to make the offline shopping experience even more practical and appreciable, making it more similar to when leaving stores, through experiences Try and buy like the one Shopify provides for Magnolia . But it is not limited to that: AR will be an excellent means with which to more easily combine physical experience and virtual dimension in order to optimize the phygital phenomenon.
5. Voice search and voice technology
In recent years the use of voice assistants such as Alexa, the Google Assistant and Siri, has experienced a notable increase; More than 55% of consumers are projected to have a smart speaker by 2022 .
Users will be increasingly accustomed to finding information on the web through voice search and companies will have to optimize their websites and their content to respond to the rise of this technology and ensure greater traceability of the site.
Voice technology, voice technology, is a trend whose influence is not limited only to SEO and the methods in which consumers carry out their searches, but is also having an impact on their buying habits and behaviors:
- the 36% used voice assistants to request assistance from a brand
- 35% use them to buy products (this explains, for example, why Amazon is working on integrating Alexa with its online shopping service and with Amazon Fresh )
- 34% use smart speakers for food delivery services . McDonald’s , in fact, has bought the voice technology startup Apprente to respond to customer needs and optimize the McDrive and MacKiosk ordering experience.
In 2021, companies should therefore begin to open their doors to this new technology. Some brands have already taken steps in this direction: Honda has started collaborations with Amazon, Walmart and Target to realize the possibility of making purchases using voice technology directly from the car and while driving, while in Italy Scavolini has created a furniture system with the built-in Alexa assistant to allow vocal control of appliances.
6. Mobile first
Another trend, from the point of view of SEO and user browsing habits, will be mobile-first indexing and, more generally, the importance of offering an optimized customer experience for mobile devices.
For this reason, Google will attach increasing importance to the mobile version of Internet sites, and it will be essential not only to optimize navigation to adapt it to these devices, but to direct all marketing activities in that direction. Creating web pages and e-mail campaigns with mobile friendly or adaptive design will be a requirement that will be essential in order not to lose positions in the search engine, and all SMS Marketing activities should not be considered in any way obsolete and outdated. , which attract an audience that is increasingly prone to using mobile devices.
7. Online stores … without being limited to it
Precisely because of the importance of mobile browsing, a trend that has already been seen in 2020 for online shopping has been the search for alternative solutions to electronic stores, solutions that are increasingly accessible via smartphone and more comfortable and immediate. For the users.
We will continue to attend the ” race to online stores ” that the Covid has launched in the year that has just ended. What’s more: thanks to the exponential growth of platforms such as Shopify, WooCommerce, and Prastashop, companies that are less equipped in the digital sphere have also started to heal their health, using these services to create their own online store in a simple, and above all inexpensive way.
The pandemic has made e-commerce no longer a simple trend, to turn it into an emergency that companies have had to deal with progressively and that is most likely destined to continue even when the health emergency has become an emergency. distant memory.
However, last year we were able to see some alternative solutions that suggest that in 2021 electronic commerce will not be the only way available. The common denominator of these solutions is the attempt to make virtual shopping even more immediate and comfortable, with the aim of creating contact points for the purchase that meet the user during their daily leisure activities. So we are talking about solutions such as Facebook shops, with which consumers will be able to consult the product lists directly on their preferred social networks and make purchases without landing on the companies’ websites and electronic stores.
But the space for maneuver in social networks does not have to be limited only to these types of experiences: it will be interesting to understand if initiatives such as the so-called shop streaming , which in China already represents an important business thanks to the direct from Alibaba, will take root in this 2021.
Using the Live Shopping functionality, the products shown during a live show can be tagged to allow immediate purchase . We have a first example of western shop streaming in Tommy Hilfiger : last May, the followers of the brand’s Instagram channel have been able to attend, through Instagram stories, a streaming show that aimed to provide a real-time shopping experience to consumers . In Italy Chiara Ferragni adopted a similar format for the launch of a product in collaboration with Lancome: the influencer has created a unique social event of its kind, integrating the live shopping experience with a live show in which interactions with guests and the public have attracted interest and have given impulse to purchases.
Importance of people and the physical dimension, but also growth of new technologies and digitization: the trends of 2021 would seem contradictory to each other, but in reality the trend of new digital strategies will be precisely to reconcile a dimension that in 2020 has been the only practicable way (the virtual one) with a dimension (the physical one) whose advantages have been greatly missed, to create a totalizing experience in response to the new needs of the present.