Marketing 2021: purpose-driven, reputation-focused, technology-powered

Marketing 2021 will be about purpose and technology-powered processes. Equally, more than lead generation and sales activation, focus will be on brand reputation.

Deloitte’s top 7 Global Marketing Trends (see list below) highlight a focus on purpose and trust as well as including customers in brand reputation.

  1. Purpose
  2. Agility
  3. Human Experience
  4. Trust
  5. Participation
  6. Fusion, that is the bringing together of ideas, digital ecosystems and partners
  7. Talent

The need for organisations to communicate their reason for existing – their purpose will be top of the marketers list this year. Also, businesses and charities need to get ready to move flexibly with their customers’ needs and allow customers not only to experience their brand but be part of its creation. As a result, storytelling will move even more to the centre of the marketer’s playbook.

PR and more strategic social media communication will be at the heart of marketing strategies.

Storytelling, while certainly part of advertising, is more at home in the area of Public Relations, Communication and, of course, social media. As a result 2021 will see brands raise their investment in communication and customer participation. PR and more strategic social media communication will be at the heart of marketing strategies.

In order to prepare for this trend, brands will need to do two things:

a) be clear on their brand’s story
b) have the processes in place to tell the story easily and consistently

Storytelling will anchor around purpose

The brand story in 2021 will anchor around the brand’s purpose. Why does it exist? What human problem will it solve? How will it contribute to the bigger societal picture?

While there will always be consumers who are solely focused on product or service performance, this decade is likely to see consumers disregard brand loyalty more easily than in days gone by. The reasons for this are the increase in brands competing for the same customer as well as consumer’s increasing desire to see purpose in brands.

In 2021 brand loyalty is likely to become more elusive.

Intra and post-Covid consumers will be looking for a clear idea on how brands they support through purchases and online interaction, contribute to society. If they themselves shift allegiance from one ‘purpose’ to another or if brands fail to clearly identify their purpose, consumers will jump the brand ship.

This trend is not new. 2019/2020 very much ushered in the marketing focus on purpose. Large corporates base all marketing around purpose. We can see this here with the example of Ernst and Young who define their purpose as:

At EY, our purpose is Building a better working world. The insights and quality services we provide help build trust and confidence in the capital markets and in economies the world over. We develop outstanding leaders who team to deliver on our promises to all of our stakeholders.


In pursuit of purpose, we will see more and more brands rallying around ESG, that is Environmental, social and corporate governance issues. Already, we can see contract requirements for social impact and clear contributions to local, national and international environmental goals, for example.

Brands, whether large or small, desiring to be successful in 2021 and beyond will do well to consider their own purpose. If not for the sake of the purpose, then to avoid being behind the curve and losing their customers. An additional benefit of making the first move is that you will be more likely to avoid topics/ purposes being pushed towards your brand you do not really want or see as a good fit.

Marketing for 2021 and beyond will have a stronger focus on the top of the funnel, that is awareness creation as well as the bottom, the level of loyalty and advocacy. Purpose will matter to the bottom line.

AI powered communication tools to channel the brand story

Once the purpose and storyline are clear, brands will want to consider their communications strategy and process. How can they help consistently market the purpose ? We all know that editorial, organic communication might not look as costly in terms of finances as pure advertising, but it is time-consuming. It is here that marketeters will be able to make use of digital and AI powered communication tools such as

automated social media management platforms, marketing funnel sequencing and more, to cut down on costs and more effectively measure customer engagement.

2021 will see marketers dig deep into the emotional and creative side of marketing while also effectively use and implement logical, process-oriented technology.

Successful businesses and charities will know how to leverage both, customer insights and the benefits of digital marketing tools to move their brand to a position of continued trust and loyalty.


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