November 25, 2020

The truth about marketing trends for 2021

By Blair Burchill

2020 has been a challenge for most businesses, with several big events impacting consumer spending and consumer confidence. Topping the list is the not-quite-over-yet COVID-19 pandemic, along with a summer of devastating bushfires in Australia and California, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the US election.

Consumers need to feel confident about the future if they’re going to spend money, so it’s no surprise to see that Statistics Canada is currently reporting the highest household savings rate ever by a considerable margin.

At times like these businesses must take decisive action for the upcoming period and be prepared to work harder for every consumer dollar. As it’s almost the end of the year as I write this, your marketing plans should be in place for next year already. But since there’s still time to make adjustments, here is my big prediction for 2021 for B2C marketing and advertising.

Nothing is Going to Change

That’s it, really. And what disappoints me is that so few other marketers are saying this.

Sure, it’s fun to get excited about the rapid emergence of TikTok to challenge Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube as a social media and content platform. But ultimately, TikTok will resolve to being simply another media channel to consider when targeting some audience demographics. It’s no different from the launch of a new magazine or out of home (OOH) opportunity in days gone by.

Storytelling and content will continue to be over-used on websites and LinkedIn profiles. New buzzwords for old ideas will gain traction amongst a population that’s certain they’ve just discovered something incredible.

Predictions of the death of print and television will continue, ignoring the fact that tactics such as YouTube pre-roll and Facebook Carousels are simply new versions of the same thing. More measurable and easier to target, yes. But a crap ad placed on YouTube will do just as much damage as a crap ad on national television.

Marketing Fundamentals Never Change

Most of the articles you’ll read about marketing trends are written by people who don’t understand marketing fundamentals or the difference between strategy and tactics.

The real craft of advertising has always been the use of ideas and campaigns that elevate the brand, product, and client above the competition. This will remain the main game, and whatever media channels marketers use for tactical execution will come and go as consumer tastes change.

Ideas matter, measurement matters, adapting to changing conditions matters. Then again, they always did.

No big predictions from here, just the need to enter 2021 with a plan in place and the enthusiasm of 2020, 2019… you get the point.


Blair Burchill , Strategy Director

Blair has 25+ years experience in advertising agencies from Ottawa to Brisbane to London. His experience transcends consumer brands from airlines and lottery operations in Australia, to petroleum and fast food in the UK, to government and public utilities here in Ottawa. His aim is always to find a point of difference for a brand that is based on an inherent truth, and bring it to life with campaigns in targeted media channels from traditional to digital and social. In addition, Blair spent over two years on the client side as the national director of marketing for a Cisco UC provider in Australia, working on B2B lead generation campaigns. His interests are advertising, rugby and summer.