Marketing Trends Predictions for 2021

Want to stay on top of the marketing game? Get those crystal balls ready, 'cause here are our Marketing Trends predictions for 2021 and beyond...

Marketing Trends 2021
Portrait for Kelsie RimmerBy Kelsie Rimmer  |  Updated April 28, 2022

There’s no two ways about it – 2020 has been one crazy year. And among the chaos and craziness brought on by the big shifts in our society, many industries – marketing included – have had to evolve and adapt to fit the new normal. 

Global crisis or not, everyone knows that marketing trends move at the speed of light. With new statistics, technologies and techniques emerging on the daily, the way we attract, connect, and market to our audiences is constantly changing. So much so, that sometimes it can be hard to keep up!

Unlimited Downloads of 54+ Million Creative Assets
Web Templates

However, to succeed in this fast-paced, industry, you have to do more than just keep up with trends in marketing – you have to stay ahead of the game. Now, nearing the end of one of the most unpredictable years in history, some big and exciting new marketing trends have started to emerge. So, moving on from 2020, we’ve put together this handy little roadmap to help you navigate the year ahead and work your marketing magic.

Get those crystal balls ready, because from social commerce to brand activism, here are the Marketing Trends we’re predicting for 2021… 

01. User Generated Content

What is User Generated Content?

As the name suggests, user-generated content (UGC) is any content — videos, images, reviews — created by customers or users, rather than by the brands themselves. As one of the most authentic forms of digital word-of-mouth marketing, UGC is a great way for brands to make themselves more accessible and relatable to their audience.

Since the rise of influencer marketing back in 2016, UGC has become the cornerstone of many brands’ marketing strategies, with 86% of companies and many big-name brands now repurposing the content of their followers and advocates. UGC is proven to far outperform brand-created content, so enlisting customers to not only generate your content, but also market it for you, is undeniably a fantastic marketing strategy. 

While User Generated Content is by no means a new trend, due to lockdown and social distancing restrictions this year, there’s been a big increase in UGC as more brands adapt to the digital landscape and look to their customers to create the content they want to see. For example, The Iconic utilised UGC for their Mother’s Day campaign, which featured images and footage of real mothers at home in lockdown, and ModCloth are now even giving their customers the option to shop via UGC on their website!

The main appeal of UGC is the increased level of authenticity and relatability that it provides. With social media fast becoming an endless stream of flatlays, sponsored posts and unattainable lifestyles, there’s been an emerging appetite for more authentic representation of ordinary people, lifestyles and experiences – especially during this year of crisis and social change. You can learn more about the authentic photography trend in Photography Trends 2020.

“UGC is like the new school ‘word of mouth’ for marketing,” says Envato’s Social Media Specialist, Jo Birleson. “People engage with it more because let’s face it, nothing says trust and authenticity like content created by users and consumers about a brand or product. For a brand it is so valuable as it is just like feedback – a reflection of the consumer’s experience. It humanises the brand, shows that people get excited about it and empowers the consumer. Not to mention, more often than not, some of the most incredibly creative content comes from our users who don’t have the same limitations we have as brands.”

To create something dynamic and visual from your UGC, check out this Freestyle Slideshow by Proskurovskiy, or this Fashion Energy Opener by efline on Video Hive. Or, to incorporate UGC into your videos and presentations, try this Lux Photo & Video Slideshow 4K V2 by FVS or this Multi-Purpose Slideshow II by framestore on VideoHive.

02. Branded Content

On the flip side to DIY user generated content, high-quality branded content has also been on the rise, and is predicted to soar in 2021. 

Spanning the realms of video marketing, AI and interactive content, the purpose of high-quality content isn’t just to sell a product or market your brand – it’s about creating a unique and unforgettable experience for your customers. And in this day and age, with both the quality and quantity of marketing content increasing exponentially, it’s so important to rise above the crowd. 

Back in July, Apple released a high-quality, entertaining narrative video called ‘The whole working-from-home thing’ to promote how their products could be used to ease the stress of working from home during the global crisis. Estee Lauder have even come out with an online interactive arcade game called ‘THE ANRCADE’ – a futuristic game focused on earning ‘youth-generating power points’  to promote their Advanced Night Repair cream. No matter what approach you choose, high-quality branded content is all about catching your audience’s attention and making your brand stand out.

“With businesses, brands and individuals creating new content by the second, it’s becoming harder and harder to stand out, which is why the quality of what we publish is so important,” says Envato’s Video Marketing Specialist, Jen McKinnon. “High-quality branded content is on the rise, and it’s no surprise that the big brands are taking content quality to new heights.”

To start producing your own high-quality branded content, try this Epic Glitch Logo Reveal by Camotion on Video Hive, or these Broadcast Clean Titles by Hramovsky. Or, create a branded intro for your content with this Logo Intro by EnesM or Quick Logo Animation by DuneFilm.

03. Social Commerce

It’s no secret that social media is now the biggest and most beneficial platform for online marketing. And, with the introduction of Facebook Shops, Instagram shops, and Pinterest Shopping Ads and Catalogs, social commerce is set to become one of the biggest marketing and eCommerce trends of the coming year!

With 55% of online shoppers now making purchases through social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest, and 71% of consumers turning to social media for shopping inspiration, it’s now more important than ever to make your brand, products and services shoppable on social media – especially as more businesses transition to digital to adjust to the COVID-19 crisis.

Embraced by big brands and small businesses alike – such as Uniqlo, Ikea and Melbourne-based chocolate company Hey Tiger – shoppable posts are becoming the way of the future. With research showing that customers are more likely to buy when presented with a streamlined shopping experience, social commerce gives brands the opportunity to optimise the shopping experience across multiple channels and platforms, allowing their customers to purchase products at every step of the way.

Hey Tiger Instagram Shop
Hey Tiger – Instagram Shop

“Earlier this year, Facebook announced its latest eCommerce play, Facebook and Instagram Shops,” says Envato’s Content Marketing Manager Julia Fernandez. “It takes some time for these things to roll out, so we’d expect to see adoption of the new tools among small businesses in 2021. Given that many brick and mortar businesses have pivoted to online in 2020, this could be an interesting alternative for many brands looking to connect with customers.”

Get prepared and mock up products for your shop with this Snapback FullCap Mockup by bangingjoints and Frame Mockup by GraphicGata. Or dive right in and promote your shop with this Instagram Fashion Banner by uicreativenet or these Instagram Stories by Therealist_Shop.

04. Brand Activism

With the rise of political activism around many social and environmental issues across the world, it’s no surprise that we’re seeing a big increase in brand activism and corporations taking social responsibility. 

With many movements gaining massive momentum in 2020, brands and businesses have started being more vocal about their values and beliefs. Big names such as Reebok, Nike, Netflix and many more took a stand to support the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, promoting their stance across social media. And some brands have taken it even further by funnelling their activism into branding, and even products. 

In the US, Pure Gold launched their 6 For 6-Pack program to support organic farming, and Ben & Jerry’s teamed up with the Climate Council for their latest ‘Unfudge our Future’ campaign – a new range of products urging the Australian government to ditch fossil fuels and embrace renewable energy.

This is a trend that we predict to carry well into 2021 and beyond, as many consumers are now not just supporting activism themselves, but expecting the brands they love to take a stand on important issues too.

“Less of a trend and more of a social responsibility, brand activism is now on the rise with brands speaking up about social and environmental issues that resonate with their consumers,” says Jo. “It shows that brands are committed to the issues that people care most about, often driving brands and people to become activists for the first time, which is incredibly uplifting. What matters most though, is that brands are authentic in their activism – that there is a fit between the issues they speak up about and the issues they actively invest in. Supportive sentiments can fall short if you’re not offering resources or action.”

If you’re ready to take a stand, promote your values on social media with these Instagram Monochrome Stories by hushahir or support a cause with this Brochure by spacestudios ir this RightCause – Charity and Donation Theme by Mikado-Themes.

05. Google Core Web Vitals

If you’ve never heard of Google Core Web Vitals before, don’t worry – you’re not alone!

What is Google Core WebVitals?

The latest search milestone on the horizon for 2021, Core Web Vitals is the new Google ranking factor in town. Announced by the search giant in mid 2020, Google is set to make Core Web Vitals ranking factors part of the new Page Experience signal some time in 2021. Luckily, website owners have gotten the the heads up from Google so, giving them time to make changes to their sites.

The key factors are around real world user experience, which includes page loading speed and mobile experience. The signals analyzed by Core Web Vitals are going to impact what pages appear in regular search results, as well as Google “top stories” (which was previously influenced by AMP).

To get ahead of the Google game, read up on everything you need to know about Google Core Web Vitals.

06. Nostalgia Marketing

Described as ‘the advertising equivalent of comfort food’, nostalgia marketing has really taken off over the last year. In this fast-paced, technology-driven world, looking back on the past can be a welcome comfort for many. In fact, nostalgia is so powerful that it’s actually proven to make us more willing to spend money on consumer goods and services – making it a perfect marketing strategy. 

Instead of anticipating the next great thing, nostalgia marketing urges us to focus on things we already know, and use the familiarity of the old to sell the innovation of the new.

One of the reasons why nostalgia works so well for marketing, is because of its strong effect on our mental wellbeing. Studies have found that nostalgia gives our lives a feeling of meaning and continuity, leading to a stronger sense of interconnectedness and purpose. Nostalgia also helps bring relief from the feelings of anxiety and instability that the future brings, allowing individuals to recontextualize themselves in today’s world, garner a sense of purpose and approach the future with a hopeful outlook. Combine these warm fuzzy feelings with a great product, and BAM! You’ve got yourself a marketing campaign.

A strategy adopted by big brands such as Nike, Pepsi, Gucci – as well as Cheetos, Discover and Mountain Dew in their incredible nostalgia marketing ads featured at the 2020 Super Bowl – nostalgia marketing has become an even more valuable tool during the last months, as the world navigates these unpredictable and unprecedented times. 

“This trend is nothing new, but it was exacerbated in 2020 when people spent more time indoors, rewatching their favorite movies and boxsets,” says Julia. “Even Gen Z, who didn’t even experience the show the first time round, are indulging in Friends marathons. Brands have been keen to capitalize on our love of all things nostalgic in their marketing, whether it’s Microsoft’s iconic Child of the 90s ad back in 2013 (is that retro in itself now?) or a recent slew of Super Bowl hits. Nostalgia marketing is familiar, comforting, and safe–and who doesn’t want a bit of that right about now? Just as retro design isn’t going anywhere fast, expect to see a blast from the past around every corner in 2021.”

07. Going Live

Over the past year, live video has quickly become one of the most popular types of content online. Not only are Instagram Live and Facebook Live thriving – with one in five Facebook videos being live streams and 1 million Instagram users watching live video every day – but other platforms such as Twitter, YouTube, and most recently even LinkedIn, have all jumped on the live video trend too. 

In 2019 alone, internet users watched 1.1 billion hours of live video. And while this figure was sure to have grown on its own, the global crisis has only added fuel to the fire, with live video now becoming a necessity for many industries – particularly fashion, music and entertainment.

In addition to many influencers and brands going live on social media – such as National Geographic and So Yummy – many typically offline events like festivals, fashion shows, gigs and galleries have also embraced live video. Huge events like Glastonbury Festival and Stockholm Fashion Week jumped on board, allowing their audiences to engage and experience them remotely. 

For many people and industries, live video has been the saviour of 2020 due to the convenience, relatability, and accessibility it provides, and we’re sure that this trend will only continue into 2021.

“Everyone loves video. In 2020 consumers are watching more video than ever before, and now it’s all about going live! From Facebook live and TikTok to Instagram Live & Instagram Reels, it’s proving to be the best way to capture the attention of your social audience,” says Jo. “People spend 3 x longer watching live video than pre-recorded content. It seems to make the audience feel more involved – as if they can influence or be a part of the action as opposed to passively watching it. It’s more in the moment and appeals to that deep need we have for instant gratification. And, in a time we’re surrounded by content, watching something live makes it seem as if you’re the first to find out. Which has got us all thinking, if it’s not ‘live’, did it really happen at all?”

Are you ready to go live? Try it out on YouTube with these Youtube Elements by agungugang, or promote your live stream with this Live Stream Event Flyer Set by Guuver.

And that’s a wrap on our Marketing Trends 2021! To look back on the year that was, check out our Mid Year Trend Review for 2020 or head back to where it all began with our Creative Trends predictions for 2020.

Related Articles