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THE FUTURE WITH 20/20 VISION
2021 COMMERCE TRENDS
2
Decoding the humanity
within each trend and the
macro drivers.
DECODE
Accelerating connection through
creative and strategic links to leverage
the trends in today’s commerce.
ACCELERATE
Unlocking the potential of each
macro trend, with current and
future-forward IRL examples.
UNLOCK
We decode humanity to unlock creativity at the convergence
of culture and commerce to accelerate connection.
CONVERGENT
PROCESS™
3
20/20 VISION
(WHERE THE FUTURE IS GOING)
The adage “hindsight is 20/20” has never been more apropos.
One might say there was a lot that didn’t happen in 2020 and
yet somehow, simultaneously more happened than we could
hope to track. Analyzing last year and the beginning of 2021
through a commercial lens allows us to see just how exactly
2020 stripped away all the fluff and showed us who and what
is essential. Literally. Emerging with new vision and direction.
As we break in 2021, the learnings of the past year have sorted
core truths from gimmicks, particularly in the retail landscape.
Conventionally trusted methods of attracting and maintaining
consumer attention have been pressure tested, and there have
been some surprising winners and losers. In many ways, it is
the backbone of our commerce (considered outdated in an
accelerated world but proven essential in a world on pause)
that has emerged most vital.
Establishing frameworks which withstand the litmus
test of uncertainty has become the most important
ingredient in a business’s continued success.
As we break in 2021, the learnings of the past year have sorted core
truths from gimmicks, particularly in the retail landscape.
Conventionally trusted methods of attracting and maintaining
consumer attention have been pressure tested, and there have been
some surprising winners and losers. In many ways, it is the backbone
of our commerce and our adaptability to reimagine it in today’s
technological landscape that has emerged most vital.
4
DECODE
Whether it be shopping, binging your favorite
series, or even just going to the bar, 2020
reminded everyone how important it is to stay
connected, even when you can’t leave your
home. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,
many brands and retailers have developed
innovative ways to allow consumers to share
experiences with each other.
THE CONNECTION IMPERATIVES
UNLOCK
Connected experiences are not just imperative
for human connection but also for brand and
commerce survival. With the goal of
recalibrating physical and digital connections
and engagements with brands and retailers,
knowing the traditional methods of interaction
and measures of loyalty are no longer
sufficient in today’s environment.
HELPJESS
Leveraging their patented technology on their app,
shoppers can have a live video call and interaction
with their favorite retailers around the world —
bringing shoppers back into stores without
leaving their homes.
ESTÉE LAUDER
Estée Lauder Company has been hosting
shoppable livestream demos on their sites
since the spring, featuring celebrities,
dermatologists, makeup artists or influencers.
VIYA, THE QUEEN OF COMMERCE
Look no further than millionaire at 34 and
bigger than “Sunday Night Football,” China’s
star saleswoman Viya rules a $60 billion
world of live online shopping and is rapidly
looking to expand her reach to the US.
NESPRESSO
Through EngageLive and their YouTube
channel, shoppers join scheduled streaming
for real-time, contact-less experiences that
showcase their products and provide
shoppers with the perfect food pairing.
LIVESTREAM E-COMMERCE
Although we reported on this trend in 2020, the US had seen only fits and starts. In the
2020 aftermath, it is dubbed the future of e-commerce and is already a $60 billion
industry in China. It is the QVC model made for new generations, lead by influencers.
Live shopping will explode in 2021, with TikTok predicted to lead the way
from a social platform and Walmart to lead in the retailer space; both
began development in 2019 and accelerated their timelines.
PRO-GAMIFICATION
Personalized-Retail-Omnichannel
Gamification has started to take off as the
next iteration of gamification and the
commerce experience. Many brands and
retailers getting their game on, like
Starbucks, Under Armour, M&M’s, etc.
With football season unknown, Tyson invited
shoppers to keep the fun and the game alive
by voting in head-to-head matchups to
determine the ultimate Game Day snack.
Shoppers were then sent to retailer.com to
purchase Tyson’s variety of products.
RETAILER TV
Walmart rolled out a virtual cookshop,
which is a free interactive video hub
offering custom content from celebrities
where shoppers can customize meals
according to their own preferences and
purchase the product within each video.
EXTENDED REALITY
AR exploded with COVID pausing in-store
experiences. Brands like Stella used AR and
media assets to drive brand interactivity, within
context, and geo-targeted to retail, taking
consumers to the places they couldn’t go and
bringing the people they couldn’t see closer.
INTERACTIVE CONNECTION
2020 proved the imperative of interaction and the need for connected brand
experiences beyond the physical. In 2021, brands will act simultaneously as both
entertainment and brand.
RISE OF TRY BEFORE YOU BUY
For non-consumables, this model helps them
overcome consumers’ tactile needs and e-com
hesitations. Originally started by D2D and
subscription boxes, like Warby Parker and Stitch
Fix, it is now taking hold with retailers like
Amazon’s Wardrobe, the e-com BlackCart
interface and bulk items like Casper Mattresses.
SAMPLE-LESS SAMPLING
Retailers and brands found that the “demo” part
of sampling was as beneficial as the actual
tasting, from the explosion of Chatbots to
inventive digital demos. Hellmann’s leveraged
CartCast and drove a 22% lift in sales. Through
the Field Agent mobile app, Oui, Yoplait drove
sales with the benefit of 1P data.
CONSUMER FUNDED SAMPLING
Suppliers offer new sampling solutions that
elevate user experience, and consumers are
willing to pay for them. ”Travel size,” found
new life as a way that shoppers could sample
products through small volume purchases.
With beauty leading the way, Adult Beverage
and CPG quickly adapted.
NATURAL INTEGRATION
Táche Pistachio Milk established partnerships
with boutique coffee shops and provided free
branded milk upgrades on beverages to enable
consumers to experience the product and the
option to buy in the moment at both physical
and digital shelf. The tactic aided in the brand’s
extension to Whole Foods distribution in 2021.
REIMAGINED SAMPLING
Sampling is one of the most important tactics for recruiting new consumers and
creating awareness. It was also one of the most impacted as safety expectations
changed, leaving brands and retailers adaptive to the new and novel.
ACCELERATE
Do you have a plan to calibrate
the balance of your physical and
virtual connections?
Are you using those connections
to ensure everything is
participatory and shoppable?
Are you building your 1st party
data effectively via these
connections?
For more specificity within your
category, let’s connect:
us@inconnectedmarketing.com
9
WHAT IT MEANS
Personalization may never stop being trendy, as
we reported in 2020. Continuing to reach all new
heights in media, experiences, and technology,
consumers are rapidly adapting to welcome
personalized commerce.
ME-TAIL
WHY IT MATTERS
Between science, technology, and consumer
demand, personalization is becoming an
easily achieved, lucrative business that
consumers are expecting.
VIRTUAL MALL
EPIC, an events and promotional company,
has launched its own virtual mall which
aims to support local New Zealand
businesses making the switch to
ecommerce.
VIRTUAL FARMERS MARKETS
Chipotle launched the first-of-its-kind online
marketplace that supports and supplies
small farmers via virtual farmers market.
VIRTUAL FESTIVAL
Dessert Goals has taken its dessert-
themed festival online amidst COVID-19
restrictions, and saw massive success.
This could be indicative for the future of
interest conventions.
VIRTUAL GROCERY
After purchasing China’s VR pioneer, Yihaodian,
in 2018, Walmart fast-tracked and introduced a
3D/VR experience to shop their aisles and
browse for groceries.
VIRTUALLY EVERYTHING VIRTUAL
In 2021, the way that consumers browse for products will be permanently shifted.
Brands and retailers have begun launching online re-creations of storefronts, markets
and even entire shopping malls. This technology has allowed for new customizations
of experiences that are not achievable in traditional retail.
Browsing has become highly integrated. Etsy is positioned to become
the modern flea market. Streetify integration is a space to watch.
GENETIC BEAUTY
Allél develops personalized beauty products
from consumers’ DNA and blood biology to
find the key drivers for individual skin and
aging, with scientific products to expertly
match their profile.
GENETIC HEALTHCARE
Over the last few years genetics have mostly
been monetized as information or services, but
now is moving into product customization.
From vitamin regimens, like TakeCareOf, to
meal programs with add-to-cart options like
GenoVive, designed for the best balance of
nutrients and exercise based on DNA.
BIOMETRIC PAY
Many tech companies are developing more
ways to secure your information with
biometric authentication methods, such as
face recognition or fingerprint scanning,
from companies like Google Pay and smile
to pay technology form Alipay.
GAIT RECOGNITION
Gait recognition is biometric technology that
analyzes the way one walks as identification,
from as far as 55 ft. Pioneers like Watrix are
deploying the technology currently for safety
purposes but are looking to expand to retail,
recognizing and customizing to consumers.
Quickly following is technology recognizing
unique vein patterns as ID.
BIO DESIGN
Biometric technology has been important and in use for the past few years now,
and pandemic shifts in the space have the most potential to permanently change
the way we live —from product design, payment and authentication, and most
rapidly growing, healthcare.
LULULEMON MIRROR
Luxury athletic wear brand Lululemon acquired
highly innovative exercise company, Mirror.
Mirror turns any open space in one’s home into
their own personal yoga studio, boxing gym, and
more. Mirror is also capable of allowing users to try
on different Lululemon products to see how they
would fit their bodies, and even purchase right from
their living room.
NIKE TRAINING CLUB
Nike announced that it would make its Nike
Training Club app free permanently to expand
its addressable market of digital fitness
consumers. Rumored to be looking at voice
commerce and meal plan to basket integration.
TONAL
Tonal is a smart mirror with built-in digital
weights attached to resistance-like bands
that allow the user to get in a full lift within
the comfort of their own homes. Tonal is
ripe to partner with an athletic apparel
company to promote product on their screen.
PELOTON BOOM
Since Peloton offers all the benefits of
attending a top tier spin class minus the
hassle of leaving your home, it naturally saw a
massive uptick in sales and usership once
COVID-19 shut down gyms across the US.
The spin bike disrupter has begun experimenting
in promotional ads between classes.
DIGITAL FITNESS PREDICTIONS
COVID closed thousands of gyms across the country. Naturally, this left consumers
searching for new ways to get a great workout on their own time in the comfort of
their own home. Creating the next customized and shoppable screen is ripe with
opportunities.
How are your brands and
retailers prepared to deliver on
the new era of personalization?
Have you clarified 3 things you
can do tomorrow to increase
personalization and dynamic
content?
ACCELERATE
us@inconnectedmarketing.com
To hear our suggestions tailored for
your category:
14
DECODE
In order to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic, new
standards, behaviors and restrictions,
consumers pivoted their shopping and dining
behaviors. Consumer studies and behaviors
suggest that these adaptations are here to stay.
THE “NEXT NORMAL”
UNLOCK
For many businesses, these are permanent
changes that consumers have accepted as the
new way of doing things. Recognizing that
permanence, many brands and retailers are
finding there is room for improvement for
longevity.
DIGITAL SHELF AT THE SHELF
Embracing consumers’ flow from digital to physical
shelf is opening new experiences. Like Walmart’s
new mobile enabled store layout and Targets
digital and wellness navigation. Amazon quickly
made moves to recognize the IRL preference and
brought their expected reviews, Alexa and clean
design to physical stores.
EXCLUSIVITY
A long established retail staple, retailers are
moving beyond simple brand SKU or flavors to
bring exclusive, integrated experiences. Target
has notably become an exclusive retail incubator
for digitally native brands, like Casper, Native,
Quip, and more. Walmart has partnered with
Unilever to launch an exclusive brand Find Your
Happy Place, made for and by consumers.
EXPERIENTIAL EXPECTATIONS
Retail is emerging as a primary experience
for consumers, instead of a heads-down
stock-up trip. Retailers and brands who are
focused on enhancing the physical shelf are
reaping the benefits, with unique
engagements, interactive display, and safety
first experiential merchandising.
SERVICES FOR THE COMMUNITY
Retail is finding new extensions to their
ecosystem by including services like health,
nutrition, and technology to the community.
Examples include the CVS clinic and health hub
and Walmart’s Apple-like technology center.
BRICK AND MORTAR RESILIENCE
No matter how fast e-com and technology advances are adapted, it turns out
consumers in 2021 still prefer in-store and actually miss that experience and
routine (even Gen Z). That role reversal in function and form will be a cornerstone
for success.
APPOINTMENT-BASED SHOPPING
As a method to combat overcrowding amidst
a pandemic, as well as to ease consumer
apprehension, retailers have adopted
appointment-based shopping.
CONTACTLESS SHOPPING
- Vengo launches contactless sampling kiosks
- In-store occupancy monitoring
- Plexiglass barriers at checkout
- Touchless payment
DARK STORES
- Whole Foods opens delivery-only location
- Walmart rolls out pickup-only locations
- Bed Bath & Beyond creates regional
fulfillment centers
COVID ADAPTABILITY
2020 changed the way consumers behaved entirely, even though not cutting-edge
trends, its hard not to recognize this seismic shift. As a result, 2021 will live in the
new age of society for the foreseeable future. This consists of things like reimagined
retail experiences, drastically reduced physical contact with public surfaces, etc.
YOUR CURB OR THEIRS
Once the pandemic altered in-store shopping,
curbside pickup and delivery forced a seismic
technological adaptation to digital shopping
for delivery and pickup — even in the least
expected places, like 7-Eleven and the Uber
empire expanding to grocery and liquor with
its Drizly acquisition.
RESTAURANT-BRANDED PRODUCT
- Hooters launched its own line of spirits
- Chili’s sells Chili’s branded home goods
- Taco Bell fashion takes over
- KFC lifetime movie
- Many bringing signature tastes to CPG
DELIVERY-ONLY RESTAURANTS
- Sam’s Crispy Chicken - Delivery-only
virtual kitchen concept
- Krispy Rice (Sushi) - Only available via
food delivery platforms
- Plant Nation - Vegan delivery-only
digital restaurant
TOUCHLESS
Accounts and franchises are deploying restaurants for the future. Burger King just launched two
new restaurants to be entirely contact-free.
DINING EXTENSIONS
If 2020 changed anything, it certainly changed the way people visit and dine at
restaurants. The dining industry 2021 is fresh with possibility and innovation, simply
due to the need to evolve or cease to exist.
The dining industry is ripe to be disrupted with all sorts of long-term
spinoffs of safety-compliant design and development.
BRAND INCUBATION
Companies found that D2C was a lucrative
launch incubator for immerging brands.
Kellogg developed an in-house team dedicated
to launching D2C brands, like Joyböl.
DUSTING OFF BRAND ROOTS
Big brands woke up their sleeping D2C capabilities
to see huge growth. Nike shifted its focus to D2C
fulfillment, accounting for over 30% of ‘20 revenue.
Levi’s added new ways to shop on its website and
saw D2C account for 40% of ‘20 revenue.
POP-UP RETURN
Pop-up is crucial for D2Cs to create a physical
presence that links to their established digital
presence. Most took a hiatus in ‘20 but look to
come back in an innovative and big way in ’21.
EVERYONE IS A D2C
D2C businesses were growing like wildfires prior to 2020. As a result of COVID, that
growth slowed for those same D2C brands who were not prepared for the huge supply
chain hit. However, behemoth brands shifted their focus from physical retail and
secondary stores to D2C and saw huge success.
Brands have also shifted their social media tactics to those of a
smaller, more personable brand, no longer assuming “they will
come” but actively going to consumers.
IMITATION FLATTERY
As Outdoor Voices fought small brand
challenges, Lululemon took note and adopted
OV’s prioritized D2C model and social voice,
netting 157% increase in sales in 2020.
What channels and touchpoints can
move you from 2020 survive to 2021
thrive?
Are you ready for fulfillment to be a
top priority in 2021 and beyond?
Do you know if D2C will be a threat or
a boom you should embrace?
ACCELERATE
us@inconnectedmarketing.com
For a tailored conversation:
20
WHAT IT MEANS
Consumers are holding tech giants, brands
and retailers under the spotlight of
expectations, amid growing concerns and
crackdowns on their burgeoning troves of our
data. Seeking brands and retailers that are
conscious and authentic.
GET REAL ECONOMY
WHY IT MATTERS
The consumer is now at the center of the
whole process and is demanding control
of their data, knowledgeable and weary of
those misusing and overusing it. Quick to
discount and advocate against if they
sense misguided efforts.
AESTHETIC AWARENESS
Many influencers and design gurus started
utilizing their keen eye for popular aesthetic
and artistic trends to create valuable
cultural messages. Creating thought
provoking, instigative, and artful
interactions with followers.
RADICAL TRANSPARENCY
Influencers like Emma Chamberlain have
accumulated their mass followings by being
brutally honest about almost all of their
shortcomings and imperfections, further endearing
them to an increasing number of people.
INFLUENCERS AND THE ELECTION
Genuinfluencers were called upon by many
brands during the 2016 and 2020 elections
to fact check and help deter the rapid
spread of misinformation. They were and
continue to be seen as the go-to news
source for Gen Z.
#NOFILTER
The raw, real, and honest trend has grown
among influencers as followers demand
transparency and answers to mental health
issues. What started as a filter-free, make-
up free movement has now become a body
positive and fluidity embracing definition for
the metaphorical filters of life.
GENUINFLUENCERS
2020 left a lot of consumers in search of aspirational personalities who really cared
about issues that matter to them. This hole in society created a wave of influencers
leading the charge for transparency and social change through social media.
THE COOKIE IS DYING
Nearly all tech giants have announced they
will phase out the use of third-party cookies
by 2022. The solution is for brands and
retailers to be prepared with first party data
solutions to reach their consumers.
THE RISE OF THE PERSONAL VPN
Now part of the consumer nomenclature,
personal VPNs are a must-have in privacy.
1.1.1.1 with WARP strengthens and speeds up
internet through private VPN, while preventing
anyone from snooping on you by encrypting
more of the traffic leaving your phone. And it
promises they won't sell your data, ever.
DUCKDUCKGO
DuckDuckGo, a search engine that emerged
in 2019, took flight as information filtering
concerns grew. It collects no personal info
from its users, cutting down SEO
opportunities for brands to hyper target.
JUMBO
An iOS app that gained recognition in 2020
as consumers were proactive of protecting
their data without losing their internet
presence. It makes tweets ephemeral, their
Facebook more private, and their Google
search history disappear.
ETHICAL EDITS IN A PRIVACY ERA
With brands’ use of data largely perceived as underhanded and unethical, new
course-correcting efforts point to a future where consumers own their data and
are in full control of their digital identities.
ACCELERATE
Are you ready to shift from 1:1 to
cohort targeting?
How are your brands and retailers
proactively growing your 1P data
stack?
What strategies are in place to ensure
you are protecting and respecting
consumers’ data?
us@inconnectedmarketing.com
For more ways to stay Connected:
24
DECODE
2020 brought about a lot of cultural
awakenings that have been long overdue. As a
result, more and more consumers are
expecting brands to be bold and brave,
establishing sustainable cultures of inclusivity,
care, and compassion.
CULTURAL SHIFTS
UNLOCK
The heat is on for brand and retailers as
consumers have new expectations for
bravery and “Do Moments.” They are quick
to point out such behaviors and act on
them with their wallets. Brands and
retailers are now held accountable to be
aware, knowledgeable, responsive, and
empathetic to the effects of these shifts on
their businesses.
COMMITMENT TO SERVICE
It’s not enough to just talk the talk, you must
walk the walk, too. Brands will find extreme
value in leveraging their positions of power
and influence for good and a greater cause
than just accruing more capital.
BE TRANSPARENT
Consumers in 2021 can tell immediately
whether a brand is being sincere in their
messaging or not. Always be honest with
the consumer, acknowledge any
shortcomings, and do better.
GLASS HOUSE THEORY
Historically, consumers have never had the
level of insight into how exactly companies
operate that they do right now. Brands
should be mindful of this and only operate
in the most ethical ways possible.
DON’T “WOKEWASH”
Wokewashing refers to whenever a brand
(or individual) says or does something that
signals their advocacy for a marginalized
cause but also continues to cause harm to
vulnerable communities.
RETURN ON AUTHENTICITY (ROA)
The best thing brands can be in 2021 is their true, authentic selves. Now that
consumers are paying even more attention to how brands and retailers behave,
it is crucial for survival that they build strategies and KPIs that are core to who
they are and where they contribute to society.
YOUTH-FOCUSED AGENCIES
PRZM is a youth-based consulting firm that
aims to help brands connect better with Gen Z
in a more foundational way. JUV Consulting is
a digital marketing agency founded by three
16-year-olds and a staff of 100 people ages 14
to 23. These agencies help clients
authentically engage with younger audiences.
YOUTH ENABLED
The real future of commerce will always be in the hands of the youth. For these
consumers the future is inclusive, non-binary, living in the hyphen, and fluid. They are
retail fluid, not expecting to go to retail but for commerce to be enabled where they are.
POLYCULTURAL PERSPECTIVE
Corporations are quickly adapting
Polyculturalism, a focus on the mental and
emotional interconnectedness of distinct
groups rather than external factors. Brands
and retailers who are leapfrogging multicultural
platitudes for youth cohorts and reflecting a
polyculture society are set to succeed.
IMMERGING COHORTS
Generations are how often talk about about
new emerging consumers, but very quickly
that gets fractured, breaking into subsets,
life-stage, etc. Immerging cohorts of shared
and impactful behaviors that resonate and
advocate for brands and retailers will have
the best predictive and lifetime value.
& CULTURE
Consumers refuse to be defined. They are
rejecting dichotomies and challenging
stereotypes. Dismissing “or” and embracing
“&,” in themselves, their friends, and their
choices in passions, products and brands.
Campaigns like P&G’s #WeSeeEqual
campaign and Nike’s #UntilWeAllWin reflect
and recognize our shared reality.
SPENDING
Money creates a significant source of stress for
Gen Z. So, they are careful, not frivolous,
spending on:
Education: Gen Z is willing to invest in their future,
like on-demand tools like StudySoup
Experiences: They love to break away from the
ordinary with different types of experiences.
Technology: Splurging on the latest and greatest
in technology and mobile gaming as they believe
better tech can improve quality of connection. IM
extensions like GamePigeon.
GEN Z UP AND COMMERCE
Gen Z has taken the reins from Millennials and is shaping the future of commerce as
we know it. They are the golden target audience for many brands and retailers, yet
those same brands and retailers have fallen short in efforts to understand their
values and how to reach them authentically — and Gen Z knows it.
GEN Z’S VALUES
They value the values that their brands hold,
and authenticity is table stakes. Gen Z
looks beyond tangible product and aims to
understand the mission behind brands.
Millennials are following Gen Z’s lead on
this and starting to become more mission
driven with their wallets.
ALTERNATIVE PAYMENT METHODS
Gen Z isn’t averse to using alternative payment
methods such as Klarna or Afterpay for items
such as clothing or tech. They often opt for
installments rather than a lump-sum payment.
Do your commerce activities reflect
brand bravery values?
Are you ready to meet the values of
emerging consumers – Gen Z?
Are you ready to shift from just
psychographic targeting to true
polyculturalism?
ACCELERATE
us@inconnectedmarketing.com
To be ready to meet the moment:
Although the industry has always thrived on newness, 2021 finds us seeking out
fresh ways to approach our foundational elements, as well as harness innovation
to create a sense of safety, security, and dependability for our shoppers.
This means being proactive, preemptive and socially conscious beyond brand
expression in order to earn the trust of our consumers and communicate
authenticity no matter where they are in the journey.
Stay connected with the latest at:
DECODE, UNLOCK, AND ACCELERATE
Join us on this journey to
the trends and evolving commerce landscape.
us@inconnectedmarketing.com
THANKS FOR CONNECTING

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2021 Commerce Trends Report

  • 1. THE FUTURE WITH 20/20 VISION 2021 COMMERCE TRENDS
  • 2. 2 Decoding the humanity within each trend and the macro drivers. DECODE Accelerating connection through creative and strategic links to leverage the trends in today’s commerce. ACCELERATE Unlocking the potential of each macro trend, with current and future-forward IRL examples. UNLOCK We decode humanity to unlock creativity at the convergence of culture and commerce to accelerate connection. CONVERGENT PROCESS™
  • 3. 3 20/20 VISION (WHERE THE FUTURE IS GOING) The adage “hindsight is 20/20” has never been more apropos. One might say there was a lot that didn’t happen in 2020 and yet somehow, simultaneously more happened than we could hope to track. Analyzing last year and the beginning of 2021 through a commercial lens allows us to see just how exactly 2020 stripped away all the fluff and showed us who and what is essential. Literally. Emerging with new vision and direction. As we break in 2021, the learnings of the past year have sorted core truths from gimmicks, particularly in the retail landscape. Conventionally trusted methods of attracting and maintaining consumer attention have been pressure tested, and there have been some surprising winners and losers. In many ways, it is the backbone of our commerce (considered outdated in an accelerated world but proven essential in a world on pause) that has emerged most vital. Establishing frameworks which withstand the litmus test of uncertainty has become the most important ingredient in a business’s continued success. As we break in 2021, the learnings of the past year have sorted core truths from gimmicks, particularly in the retail landscape. Conventionally trusted methods of attracting and maintaining consumer attention have been pressure tested, and there have been some surprising winners and losers. In many ways, it is the backbone of our commerce and our adaptability to reimagine it in today’s technological landscape that has emerged most vital.
  • 4. 4 DECODE Whether it be shopping, binging your favorite series, or even just going to the bar, 2020 reminded everyone how important it is to stay connected, even when you can’t leave your home. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many brands and retailers have developed innovative ways to allow consumers to share experiences with each other. THE CONNECTION IMPERATIVES UNLOCK Connected experiences are not just imperative for human connection but also for brand and commerce survival. With the goal of recalibrating physical and digital connections and engagements with brands and retailers, knowing the traditional methods of interaction and measures of loyalty are no longer sufficient in today’s environment.
  • 5. HELPJESS Leveraging their patented technology on their app, shoppers can have a live video call and interaction with their favorite retailers around the world — bringing shoppers back into stores without leaving their homes. ESTÉE LAUDER Estée Lauder Company has been hosting shoppable livestream demos on their sites since the spring, featuring celebrities, dermatologists, makeup artists or influencers. VIYA, THE QUEEN OF COMMERCE Look no further than millionaire at 34 and bigger than “Sunday Night Football,” China’s star saleswoman Viya rules a $60 billion world of live online shopping and is rapidly looking to expand her reach to the US. NESPRESSO Through EngageLive and their YouTube channel, shoppers join scheduled streaming for real-time, contact-less experiences that showcase their products and provide shoppers with the perfect food pairing. LIVESTREAM E-COMMERCE Although we reported on this trend in 2020, the US had seen only fits and starts. In the 2020 aftermath, it is dubbed the future of e-commerce and is already a $60 billion industry in China. It is the QVC model made for new generations, lead by influencers. Live shopping will explode in 2021, with TikTok predicted to lead the way from a social platform and Walmart to lead in the retailer space; both began development in 2019 and accelerated their timelines.
  • 6. PRO-GAMIFICATION Personalized-Retail-Omnichannel Gamification has started to take off as the next iteration of gamification and the commerce experience. Many brands and retailers getting their game on, like Starbucks, Under Armour, M&M’s, etc. With football season unknown, Tyson invited shoppers to keep the fun and the game alive by voting in head-to-head matchups to determine the ultimate Game Day snack. Shoppers were then sent to retailer.com to purchase Tyson’s variety of products. RETAILER TV Walmart rolled out a virtual cookshop, which is a free interactive video hub offering custom content from celebrities where shoppers can customize meals according to their own preferences and purchase the product within each video. EXTENDED REALITY AR exploded with COVID pausing in-store experiences. Brands like Stella used AR and media assets to drive brand interactivity, within context, and geo-targeted to retail, taking consumers to the places they couldn’t go and bringing the people they couldn’t see closer. INTERACTIVE CONNECTION 2020 proved the imperative of interaction and the need for connected brand experiences beyond the physical. In 2021, brands will act simultaneously as both entertainment and brand.
  • 7. RISE OF TRY BEFORE YOU BUY For non-consumables, this model helps them overcome consumers’ tactile needs and e-com hesitations. Originally started by D2D and subscription boxes, like Warby Parker and Stitch Fix, it is now taking hold with retailers like Amazon’s Wardrobe, the e-com BlackCart interface and bulk items like Casper Mattresses. SAMPLE-LESS SAMPLING Retailers and brands found that the “demo” part of sampling was as beneficial as the actual tasting, from the explosion of Chatbots to inventive digital demos. Hellmann’s leveraged CartCast and drove a 22% lift in sales. Through the Field Agent mobile app, Oui, Yoplait drove sales with the benefit of 1P data. CONSUMER FUNDED SAMPLING Suppliers offer new sampling solutions that elevate user experience, and consumers are willing to pay for them. ”Travel size,” found new life as a way that shoppers could sample products through small volume purchases. With beauty leading the way, Adult Beverage and CPG quickly adapted. NATURAL INTEGRATION Táche Pistachio Milk established partnerships with boutique coffee shops and provided free branded milk upgrades on beverages to enable consumers to experience the product and the option to buy in the moment at both physical and digital shelf. The tactic aided in the brand’s extension to Whole Foods distribution in 2021. REIMAGINED SAMPLING Sampling is one of the most important tactics for recruiting new consumers and creating awareness. It was also one of the most impacted as safety expectations changed, leaving brands and retailers adaptive to the new and novel.
  • 8. ACCELERATE Do you have a plan to calibrate the balance of your physical and virtual connections? Are you using those connections to ensure everything is participatory and shoppable? Are you building your 1st party data effectively via these connections? For more specificity within your category, let’s connect: us@inconnectedmarketing.com
  • 9. 9 WHAT IT MEANS Personalization may never stop being trendy, as we reported in 2020. Continuing to reach all new heights in media, experiences, and technology, consumers are rapidly adapting to welcome personalized commerce. ME-TAIL WHY IT MATTERS Between science, technology, and consumer demand, personalization is becoming an easily achieved, lucrative business that consumers are expecting.
  • 10. VIRTUAL MALL EPIC, an events and promotional company, has launched its own virtual mall which aims to support local New Zealand businesses making the switch to ecommerce. VIRTUAL FARMERS MARKETS Chipotle launched the first-of-its-kind online marketplace that supports and supplies small farmers via virtual farmers market. VIRTUAL FESTIVAL Dessert Goals has taken its dessert- themed festival online amidst COVID-19 restrictions, and saw massive success. This could be indicative for the future of interest conventions. VIRTUAL GROCERY After purchasing China’s VR pioneer, Yihaodian, in 2018, Walmart fast-tracked and introduced a 3D/VR experience to shop their aisles and browse for groceries. VIRTUALLY EVERYTHING VIRTUAL In 2021, the way that consumers browse for products will be permanently shifted. Brands and retailers have begun launching online re-creations of storefronts, markets and even entire shopping malls. This technology has allowed for new customizations of experiences that are not achievable in traditional retail. Browsing has become highly integrated. Etsy is positioned to become the modern flea market. Streetify integration is a space to watch.
  • 11. GENETIC BEAUTY Allél develops personalized beauty products from consumers’ DNA and blood biology to find the key drivers for individual skin and aging, with scientific products to expertly match their profile. GENETIC HEALTHCARE Over the last few years genetics have mostly been monetized as information or services, but now is moving into product customization. From vitamin regimens, like TakeCareOf, to meal programs with add-to-cart options like GenoVive, designed for the best balance of nutrients and exercise based on DNA. BIOMETRIC PAY Many tech companies are developing more ways to secure your information with biometric authentication methods, such as face recognition or fingerprint scanning, from companies like Google Pay and smile to pay technology form Alipay. GAIT RECOGNITION Gait recognition is biometric technology that analyzes the way one walks as identification, from as far as 55 ft. Pioneers like Watrix are deploying the technology currently for safety purposes but are looking to expand to retail, recognizing and customizing to consumers. Quickly following is technology recognizing unique vein patterns as ID. BIO DESIGN Biometric technology has been important and in use for the past few years now, and pandemic shifts in the space have the most potential to permanently change the way we live —from product design, payment and authentication, and most rapidly growing, healthcare.
  • 12. LULULEMON MIRROR Luxury athletic wear brand Lululemon acquired highly innovative exercise company, Mirror. Mirror turns any open space in one’s home into their own personal yoga studio, boxing gym, and more. Mirror is also capable of allowing users to try on different Lululemon products to see how they would fit their bodies, and even purchase right from their living room. NIKE TRAINING CLUB Nike announced that it would make its Nike Training Club app free permanently to expand its addressable market of digital fitness consumers. Rumored to be looking at voice commerce and meal plan to basket integration. TONAL Tonal is a smart mirror with built-in digital weights attached to resistance-like bands that allow the user to get in a full lift within the comfort of their own homes. Tonal is ripe to partner with an athletic apparel company to promote product on their screen. PELOTON BOOM Since Peloton offers all the benefits of attending a top tier spin class minus the hassle of leaving your home, it naturally saw a massive uptick in sales and usership once COVID-19 shut down gyms across the US. The spin bike disrupter has begun experimenting in promotional ads between classes. DIGITAL FITNESS PREDICTIONS COVID closed thousands of gyms across the country. Naturally, this left consumers searching for new ways to get a great workout on their own time in the comfort of their own home. Creating the next customized and shoppable screen is ripe with opportunities.
  • 13. How are your brands and retailers prepared to deliver on the new era of personalization? Have you clarified 3 things you can do tomorrow to increase personalization and dynamic content? ACCELERATE us@inconnectedmarketing.com To hear our suggestions tailored for your category:
  • 14. 14 DECODE In order to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic, new standards, behaviors and restrictions, consumers pivoted their shopping and dining behaviors. Consumer studies and behaviors suggest that these adaptations are here to stay. THE “NEXT NORMAL” UNLOCK For many businesses, these are permanent changes that consumers have accepted as the new way of doing things. Recognizing that permanence, many brands and retailers are finding there is room for improvement for longevity.
  • 15. DIGITAL SHELF AT THE SHELF Embracing consumers’ flow from digital to physical shelf is opening new experiences. Like Walmart’s new mobile enabled store layout and Targets digital and wellness navigation. Amazon quickly made moves to recognize the IRL preference and brought their expected reviews, Alexa and clean design to physical stores. EXCLUSIVITY A long established retail staple, retailers are moving beyond simple brand SKU or flavors to bring exclusive, integrated experiences. Target has notably become an exclusive retail incubator for digitally native brands, like Casper, Native, Quip, and more. Walmart has partnered with Unilever to launch an exclusive brand Find Your Happy Place, made for and by consumers. EXPERIENTIAL EXPECTATIONS Retail is emerging as a primary experience for consumers, instead of a heads-down stock-up trip. Retailers and brands who are focused on enhancing the physical shelf are reaping the benefits, with unique engagements, interactive display, and safety first experiential merchandising. SERVICES FOR THE COMMUNITY Retail is finding new extensions to their ecosystem by including services like health, nutrition, and technology to the community. Examples include the CVS clinic and health hub and Walmart’s Apple-like technology center. BRICK AND MORTAR RESILIENCE No matter how fast e-com and technology advances are adapted, it turns out consumers in 2021 still prefer in-store and actually miss that experience and routine (even Gen Z). That role reversal in function and form will be a cornerstone for success.
  • 16. APPOINTMENT-BASED SHOPPING As a method to combat overcrowding amidst a pandemic, as well as to ease consumer apprehension, retailers have adopted appointment-based shopping. CONTACTLESS SHOPPING - Vengo launches contactless sampling kiosks - In-store occupancy monitoring - Plexiglass barriers at checkout - Touchless payment DARK STORES - Whole Foods opens delivery-only location - Walmart rolls out pickup-only locations - Bed Bath & Beyond creates regional fulfillment centers COVID ADAPTABILITY 2020 changed the way consumers behaved entirely, even though not cutting-edge trends, its hard not to recognize this seismic shift. As a result, 2021 will live in the new age of society for the foreseeable future. This consists of things like reimagined retail experiences, drastically reduced physical contact with public surfaces, etc. YOUR CURB OR THEIRS Once the pandemic altered in-store shopping, curbside pickup and delivery forced a seismic technological adaptation to digital shopping for delivery and pickup — even in the least expected places, like 7-Eleven and the Uber empire expanding to grocery and liquor with its Drizly acquisition.
  • 17. RESTAURANT-BRANDED PRODUCT - Hooters launched its own line of spirits - Chili’s sells Chili’s branded home goods - Taco Bell fashion takes over - KFC lifetime movie - Many bringing signature tastes to CPG DELIVERY-ONLY RESTAURANTS - Sam’s Crispy Chicken - Delivery-only virtual kitchen concept - Krispy Rice (Sushi) - Only available via food delivery platforms - Plant Nation - Vegan delivery-only digital restaurant TOUCHLESS Accounts and franchises are deploying restaurants for the future. Burger King just launched two new restaurants to be entirely contact-free. DINING EXTENSIONS If 2020 changed anything, it certainly changed the way people visit and dine at restaurants. The dining industry 2021 is fresh with possibility and innovation, simply due to the need to evolve or cease to exist. The dining industry is ripe to be disrupted with all sorts of long-term spinoffs of safety-compliant design and development.
  • 18. BRAND INCUBATION Companies found that D2C was a lucrative launch incubator for immerging brands. Kellogg developed an in-house team dedicated to launching D2C brands, like Joyböl. DUSTING OFF BRAND ROOTS Big brands woke up their sleeping D2C capabilities to see huge growth. Nike shifted its focus to D2C fulfillment, accounting for over 30% of ‘20 revenue. Levi’s added new ways to shop on its website and saw D2C account for 40% of ‘20 revenue. POP-UP RETURN Pop-up is crucial for D2Cs to create a physical presence that links to their established digital presence. Most took a hiatus in ‘20 but look to come back in an innovative and big way in ’21. EVERYONE IS A D2C D2C businesses were growing like wildfires prior to 2020. As a result of COVID, that growth slowed for those same D2C brands who were not prepared for the huge supply chain hit. However, behemoth brands shifted their focus from physical retail and secondary stores to D2C and saw huge success. Brands have also shifted their social media tactics to those of a smaller, more personable brand, no longer assuming “they will come” but actively going to consumers. IMITATION FLATTERY As Outdoor Voices fought small brand challenges, Lululemon took note and adopted OV’s prioritized D2C model and social voice, netting 157% increase in sales in 2020.
  • 19. What channels and touchpoints can move you from 2020 survive to 2021 thrive? Are you ready for fulfillment to be a top priority in 2021 and beyond? Do you know if D2C will be a threat or a boom you should embrace? ACCELERATE us@inconnectedmarketing.com For a tailored conversation:
  • 20. 20 WHAT IT MEANS Consumers are holding tech giants, brands and retailers under the spotlight of expectations, amid growing concerns and crackdowns on their burgeoning troves of our data. Seeking brands and retailers that are conscious and authentic. GET REAL ECONOMY WHY IT MATTERS The consumer is now at the center of the whole process and is demanding control of their data, knowledgeable and weary of those misusing and overusing it. Quick to discount and advocate against if they sense misguided efforts.
  • 21. AESTHETIC AWARENESS Many influencers and design gurus started utilizing their keen eye for popular aesthetic and artistic trends to create valuable cultural messages. Creating thought provoking, instigative, and artful interactions with followers. RADICAL TRANSPARENCY Influencers like Emma Chamberlain have accumulated their mass followings by being brutally honest about almost all of their shortcomings and imperfections, further endearing them to an increasing number of people. INFLUENCERS AND THE ELECTION Genuinfluencers were called upon by many brands during the 2016 and 2020 elections to fact check and help deter the rapid spread of misinformation. They were and continue to be seen as the go-to news source for Gen Z. #NOFILTER The raw, real, and honest trend has grown among influencers as followers demand transparency and answers to mental health issues. What started as a filter-free, make- up free movement has now become a body positive and fluidity embracing definition for the metaphorical filters of life. GENUINFLUENCERS 2020 left a lot of consumers in search of aspirational personalities who really cared about issues that matter to them. This hole in society created a wave of influencers leading the charge for transparency and social change through social media.
  • 22. THE COOKIE IS DYING Nearly all tech giants have announced they will phase out the use of third-party cookies by 2022. The solution is for brands and retailers to be prepared with first party data solutions to reach their consumers. THE RISE OF THE PERSONAL VPN Now part of the consumer nomenclature, personal VPNs are a must-have in privacy. 1.1.1.1 with WARP strengthens and speeds up internet through private VPN, while preventing anyone from snooping on you by encrypting more of the traffic leaving your phone. And it promises they won't sell your data, ever. DUCKDUCKGO DuckDuckGo, a search engine that emerged in 2019, took flight as information filtering concerns grew. It collects no personal info from its users, cutting down SEO opportunities for brands to hyper target. JUMBO An iOS app that gained recognition in 2020 as consumers were proactive of protecting their data without losing their internet presence. It makes tweets ephemeral, their Facebook more private, and their Google search history disappear. ETHICAL EDITS IN A PRIVACY ERA With brands’ use of data largely perceived as underhanded and unethical, new course-correcting efforts point to a future where consumers own their data and are in full control of their digital identities.
  • 23. ACCELERATE Are you ready to shift from 1:1 to cohort targeting? How are your brands and retailers proactively growing your 1P data stack? What strategies are in place to ensure you are protecting and respecting consumers’ data? us@inconnectedmarketing.com For more ways to stay Connected:
  • 24. 24 DECODE 2020 brought about a lot of cultural awakenings that have been long overdue. As a result, more and more consumers are expecting brands to be bold and brave, establishing sustainable cultures of inclusivity, care, and compassion. CULTURAL SHIFTS UNLOCK The heat is on for brand and retailers as consumers have new expectations for bravery and “Do Moments.” They are quick to point out such behaviors and act on them with their wallets. Brands and retailers are now held accountable to be aware, knowledgeable, responsive, and empathetic to the effects of these shifts on their businesses.
  • 25. COMMITMENT TO SERVICE It’s not enough to just talk the talk, you must walk the walk, too. Brands will find extreme value in leveraging their positions of power and influence for good and a greater cause than just accruing more capital. BE TRANSPARENT Consumers in 2021 can tell immediately whether a brand is being sincere in their messaging or not. Always be honest with the consumer, acknowledge any shortcomings, and do better. GLASS HOUSE THEORY Historically, consumers have never had the level of insight into how exactly companies operate that they do right now. Brands should be mindful of this and only operate in the most ethical ways possible. DON’T “WOKEWASH” Wokewashing refers to whenever a brand (or individual) says or does something that signals their advocacy for a marginalized cause but also continues to cause harm to vulnerable communities. RETURN ON AUTHENTICITY (ROA) The best thing brands can be in 2021 is their true, authentic selves. Now that consumers are paying even more attention to how brands and retailers behave, it is crucial for survival that they build strategies and KPIs that are core to who they are and where they contribute to society.
  • 26. YOUTH-FOCUSED AGENCIES PRZM is a youth-based consulting firm that aims to help brands connect better with Gen Z in a more foundational way. JUV Consulting is a digital marketing agency founded by three 16-year-olds and a staff of 100 people ages 14 to 23. These agencies help clients authentically engage with younger audiences. YOUTH ENABLED The real future of commerce will always be in the hands of the youth. For these consumers the future is inclusive, non-binary, living in the hyphen, and fluid. They are retail fluid, not expecting to go to retail but for commerce to be enabled where they are. POLYCULTURAL PERSPECTIVE Corporations are quickly adapting Polyculturalism, a focus on the mental and emotional interconnectedness of distinct groups rather than external factors. Brands and retailers who are leapfrogging multicultural platitudes for youth cohorts and reflecting a polyculture society are set to succeed. IMMERGING COHORTS Generations are how often talk about about new emerging consumers, but very quickly that gets fractured, breaking into subsets, life-stage, etc. Immerging cohorts of shared and impactful behaviors that resonate and advocate for brands and retailers will have the best predictive and lifetime value. & CULTURE Consumers refuse to be defined. They are rejecting dichotomies and challenging stereotypes. Dismissing “or” and embracing “&,” in themselves, their friends, and their choices in passions, products and brands. Campaigns like P&G’s #WeSeeEqual campaign and Nike’s #UntilWeAllWin reflect and recognize our shared reality.
  • 27. SPENDING Money creates a significant source of stress for Gen Z. So, they are careful, not frivolous, spending on: Education: Gen Z is willing to invest in their future, like on-demand tools like StudySoup Experiences: They love to break away from the ordinary with different types of experiences. Technology: Splurging on the latest and greatest in technology and mobile gaming as they believe better tech can improve quality of connection. IM extensions like GamePigeon. GEN Z UP AND COMMERCE Gen Z has taken the reins from Millennials and is shaping the future of commerce as we know it. They are the golden target audience for many brands and retailers, yet those same brands and retailers have fallen short in efforts to understand their values and how to reach them authentically — and Gen Z knows it. GEN Z’S VALUES They value the values that their brands hold, and authenticity is table stakes. Gen Z looks beyond tangible product and aims to understand the mission behind brands. Millennials are following Gen Z’s lead on this and starting to become more mission driven with their wallets. ALTERNATIVE PAYMENT METHODS Gen Z isn’t averse to using alternative payment methods such as Klarna or Afterpay for items such as clothing or tech. They often opt for installments rather than a lump-sum payment.
  • 28. Do your commerce activities reflect brand bravery values? Are you ready to meet the values of emerging consumers – Gen Z? Are you ready to shift from just psychographic targeting to true polyculturalism? ACCELERATE us@inconnectedmarketing.com To be ready to meet the moment:
  • 29. Although the industry has always thrived on newness, 2021 finds us seeking out fresh ways to approach our foundational elements, as well as harness innovation to create a sense of safety, security, and dependability for our shoppers. This means being proactive, preemptive and socially conscious beyond brand expression in order to earn the trust of our consumers and communicate authenticity no matter where they are in the journey. Stay connected with the latest at: DECODE, UNLOCK, AND ACCELERATE Join us on this journey to the trends and evolving commerce landscape. us@inconnectedmarketing.com