How COVID-19 Has Changed Marketing Forever


By Julie Liesse

In early 2020, marketing and media companies prepped for a busy year ahead, including the Summer Olympics and a contentious national election.

And then the COVID-19 pandemic hit. In the marketing world, businesses scrambled to distribute goods and services in new ways. TV and film production paused. In-person events were canceled. And many brands put the brakes on advertising.

Although marketing and advertising ticked back up in the second half of 2020, businesses looking ahead are asking whether the trends of the last 12 months—the accelerated shift to streaming video, online shopping, curbside pickup and casual clothes—will be permanent or temporary.

What can the marketing world expect during the next twelve months? After a year like 2020, it can feel daunting to make predictions, but in Ad Age’s new trend report—“2021 Forecast: Has the Pandemic Changed Consumer Behavior Forever?”—our experts offered thoughts and analysis to guide marketers and their agency partners as they navigate the rest of this year and begin thinking about 2022.

The following excerpt from “2021 Forecast” shows how consumer media consumption shifted during the pandemic, with the jury out on what parts will be permanent:

For brands disenchanted with some of the media options, particularly traditional linear television, the notion of “marketing” may shift, especially in the near term. Rather than analyzing media choices and shifting ad dollars from medium to medium, GroupM Global President of Business Intelligence Brian Wieser says, “Maybe the changes brands make this year are not media investments, but investing in product, customer service and the customer experience.” He thinks some companies will opt to invest marketing dollars in improvements or expansion of distribution strategies, and their own ecommerce platforms, websites and apps.

Credit: Ad Age

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