Yes, 2020 sucked. But maybe, just maybe, can we agree that … we needed it. We needed it like the Grinch needed his heart to triple in size. Sure, it hurts, but then comes the clarity, the “Wait, this isn’t who I am!” moment. That’s where we are, and from now on, we’re committed to change. (Seriously, Google reports that we have been literally searching for truth and knowledge.)
Shifting Gears for the Biosphere
Takeaway: Plan for conversations about equity in an elevated focus on preserving our natural environment.
Nature has been our church this year. It was there when little else was and it kept us from complete soul starvation. And because of that, we are becoming more acutely aware of our own impact on the environment in new, and different ways.
According to Stylus, more people are recognizing that personal behavior can and should make a difference to the long-term health of the environment—with 73% now prepared to alter their lifestyles to help protect its future. (Backyard gardening, anyone?) And wait, there’s more. (Stylus, Consumer Attitudes 2020; Stylus, Roadmaps to Recovery 2020)
It’s not just the environment, but how it’s connected to everything else. Welcome to intersectionality. Once just an academic term, we now talk about it at the dinner table and hashtag it on Instagram. How can we possibly save the environment without also factoring in things like race, income, gender, and political ideology? Duh!
Are we getting smarter or should we have known this all along?
Either way, we’ve made quite a breakthrough. Expect brands to tune in and spread the word. In the big leagues, Amazon, Ford, Citigroup and others have publicly urged President-elect Joe Biden to rejoin the Paris Accord. Meanwhile, businesses like men’s skincare company Bulldog and women’s razor company Billie are branding sustainable products with gender and diversity in mind in order to combat sustainable marketing’s historic bias toward white, wealthy women. We’re in this together, so justify those sustainable claims with direct action for humanity. Mission Brand Alliance provides a directory of brands, like Nomad and Jetty, committed to sustainability practices in line with social justice.
Bonds of Steel
Expect pandemic-era creature comforts to stabilize and factor into our relationships going forward.
It feels like our social lives have been in a pressure cooker this year. Remember the days when we’d meet for happy hour and gab until the bartender gave last call? Do we miss that? About 58% of people say they (secretly) don’t. We are social creatures, of course, but with our usual habits deemed unsafe, we’re tightening our circle and tapping into introvertism. (How many times have you baked sourdough from scratch in utter solitude this year? Cooking is self-care and without those daily, traffic-heavy commutes, we sure have the time!)
Without in-person social gatherings, we’ve leveled up our digital presence. And sure enough, 66% of people say their friendships have not been negatively affected by the loss of face-to-face contact. Online communication platforms are surging and becoming regularly used beyond their niche intentions. Discord, an app originally created to unite gamers, is now functioning as a space for anyone and everyone to stay connected.
So, we kind of like staying at home and nerding out with our trusty cyber communities. Is this meant to last? Most likely! Between work from home (WFH) enthusiasm and a dramatic increase in online shopping, our world has made a remarkable pivot toward tech for all things lifestyle. Up next: Personal AI robots programmed to bake all that sourdough for us. Just kidding.
As for couples, this year has brought unique challenges. While the extra quality time promised closer bonds, many found existing issues were being amplified. (More on the trend here from Legal Templates.) However! Instead of blaming each other, otherwise happy couples blamed the pandemic. “It’s not you! It’s the pandemic!” With something external on which to blame issues like financial insecurity and poor mental health, people were able to foster closer bonds, after all. When the world reopens, expect those bonds to strengthen relationship commitment, confidence, and empathy. Some 12% of couples report speeding up their engagement timelines. So hey, what’s a global crisis if not a handy dandy relationship booster seat? Well, for those with pre-COVID-19 contentions, they’re just as unhappy as they were before. But, hey, at least it’s not less happy, right?
Health Unlike Ever Before
Encourage people actively pursuing overall well-being in unique ways.
The pandemic has certainly made us more cautious of disease and illness (we’ve since discovered the miraculous benefits of soap and some people plan on wearing masks post-pandemic), but health in its entirety has entered a new paradigm. No joke, the World Health Organization made a TikTok account this year. Get ready for a future of health transcendance.
The psychological fallout of 2020 has been coined ‘the pandemic within the pandemic,’ and it won’t go anywhere if needs are not urgently met. Particular emphasis has been made on affordable, accessible health care for underserved demographics. This movement toward inclusivity and equity will permeate through all life’s health sectors, from mental and physical health to financial well-being and environmental concern. Remember that word intersectionality?
We all just want to be seen, heard, and understood. Personalization is here to help. Fresh to the scene, teletherapy app Ayana not only looks at mental health symptoms, but at race and cultural background too. It then pairs you with a therapist who you can actually relate to based on things you literally have in common. Say goodbye to musty offices, plastic clipboards, and therapists treating you like a statistic instead of a person. Unless, of course, that’s your thing.
We’ve learned that health isn’t just a right, it’s an essential. Even if this year meant giving up many of life’s various luxuries, health shouldn’t be one of them.
Let’s Recap: Looking Ahead (and Up!)
- On the environment. Preserving our natural environment is becoming a universal value. Brands that pursue sustainability in their core mission and promote inclusion across demographics will become leaders in the movement toward a happier planet.
- On our relationships. The ways we engage with and take care of ourselves and each other have taken on new meanings in a lack of quality time or, depending on your perspective, a surplus of it. Somehow, we’ve managed to defy the odds. As we approach a reopened world with new digital inclinations, expect pandemic-era comforts to stay and elevate a reintroduction to normalcy.
- On health and well-being. Brands of 2021 should encourage active well-being, shed light on vulnerabilities, and provide tools for staying ahead, not just catching up.
What else is on your mind for your brand and audience in 2021? How can we help? Drop us a line.
Now in our 50th year of business, Vladimir Jones is Colorado’s original independent, integrated advertising agency, with offices in Denver and Colorado Springs. We believe in brilliant brands and love making the world love them as much as we do.