What marketing tactics should we focus on in 2021?

Consider analytical research and understand how a marketer can separate important trends from short-term reactions to change. Understanding these trends will allow us to respond properly to the changing needs of customers, adjust their business models as needed and strengthen the interaction between people, which is so necessary for all of us now.

Gartner conducted several surveys of marketing directors on the effectiveness of their actions in 2020 (infographic 1) and on their future strategy in 2021 (infographic 2).

Infographic 1

Source: Gartner CMO Strategic Priorities Survey 2021

These studies suggest that human basic instincts are now working. Therefore, marketers mistakenly believe that survival is more important than human relationships and further growth of the company. In the current conditions of severe stress and low confidence in the future, almost no one thinks about finding a new audience or implementing breakthrough innovations in their market. I think it’s useless.

But even in this alarming state, most marketers have acknowledged that developing a new brand strategy will now be the most important step.

Infographic 2

Source: Gartner CMO Survey 2020

Throughout human history, the crisis has been a source of innovation and change. Often these changes were for the better. In the pandemic of the Spanish flu of 1918-1919, the use of telephony increased enormously. During the Cold War, there was a sharp increase in the popularity of televisions in homes. Because the population wanted to watch the conflict in Vietnam, which became the first war covered on television. It is difficult to imagine modernity without these technologies, and it is crises that have given impetus to their development. A coronavirus pandemic should also have positive consequences. One example is the beginning of a new online era. Business leaders no longer need to fly to another city or country for a single meeting or negotiation. This has a lot of advantages: saving the company’s entertainment costs, reducing environmental damage from aircraft, and so on. Lockdown forcibly made you feel the benefits of online learning and online shopping.

I gave these examples to change the mood of marketers and business owners with “Everything is gone!” on “Changes required”. I will try to formulate how I see these changes.

1. Respond more sensitively to the client’s call for help.

Delloite, an international company, conducted a large study in late 2020 that shows how people and brands have responded to the epidemic. Data of profile experts, opinions of experts, consumers and managers were used for preparation of the report.

Research has shown that in a situation of high uncertainty, people tend to expect help from brands and pay gratitude to those who are able to take into account their most pressing needs at the moment. 80% of respondents were able to give an example of a positive initiative of a brand in response to the difficulties encountered by consumers due to the epidemic. At the same time, 20% of respondents said that it increased their loyalty to this brand.

On the other hand, more than a quarter of respondents who noticed that brands act only in their own interests, stopped buying their products.

At the Gartner Marketing Symposium, analysts at the research company said that customers expect brands to address issues related to the environment, gender inequality, racism and health.

“It has never been so important for marketing directors to anticipate their clients’ concerns and help solve their problems. This is a difficult task even with a complete marketing budget. But now we have to do it even with limited resources, ”said Cassandra Nordlund, Gartner’s Marketing Director.

2. Use digitalization and the continuous transition to the Internet for your own purposes, do not resist them and do not ignore them.

More than 70% of respondents said they appreciate new digital solutions that allow them to strengthen their relationship with other people. And 63% expect that in the future will use digital technology more actively than before the spread of coronavirus infection, even when the situation normalizes.

58% of respondents were able to recall at least one brand that quickly implemented digital changes to better meet the needs of the user, and 82% said that it was an incentive for them to use this brand more.

3. Optimize costs not temporarily, but globally.

I often hear the question: “When will everything be as before?”. It is very important to understand that it will never be the same again. It is important for marketers not just to wait for a difficult period. We need to learn to work in an environment where needs, desires and budgets are likely to remain limited. Strategic cost optimization is the most urgent task now. You need to save only the most important costs and maximize their efficiency.

“In the future, the challenges that marketers will face in 2020 will continue to affect marketing in a new way. We will have to focus on digital technology and save like never before”, said Rick DeLeesy, vice president of Gartner Marketing.


To be flexible in 2021, marketers need to focus on customer understanding, adaptive planning, data analytics and cost optimization. It is necessary to abandon a purely defensive position – the first reaction to the crisis – in favor of those actions that allow you to more accurately read the needs of the target audience and changes in the market, and then quickly use it all in practice. This is how companies will be able to help customers, employees and society at the right time. And as a result – not just to survive on their own, but to really move to a new level.

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