Chief among many realisations for lots of brands in March 2020 was the fact digital transformation was essentially still a buzzword. Despite confidently telling investors they had been making rapid progress for years, most realised they were well short of meeting the demands brought about by accelerated online take-up. Progress was rapid, and change dizzying at times.
Despite the depth of what has been achieved in ecommerce capability, and understanding of the digital landscape in a short space of time, gaps in skills and delivery of customer experience will take longer to fill.
If 2020 was about blind panic, 2021 sober reflection, 2022 will be about brands doubling down on digital.
The rate of “digital upskilling” is getting quicker. For example, as part of an “end to end digitalisation” project, Unilever is providing its marketers with tools and training in digital media and delivery to ensure knowledge isn’t confined to specialists. “All marketers need to really own and be digital, and not just do digital,” the FMCG company’s chief marketing and digital officer Conny Braams told us earlier this year. Unilever’s need is illustrative of many brands, large and small, addressing the requirements of the shifting landscape.
For others, time and effort is also being invested in improving in-house capability to produce digital assets quicker and in brand tracking insight. For example, Britivic has setup a “centre of excellence” to share and enhance all things digital, from customer experience to the use of social media and creation of content.
For most, digitalisation in 2022 will mean more money invested in digital media. Many direct to consumer brands are attributing success selling online to targeted digital ad spend. According to GroupM, the amount spent on advertising to support ecommerce will increase 66% in 2021, while Zenith predicts digital channels will amount to more than 60% of global adspend for the first time next year.
Next is the standard bearer in the UK, turning its back on supporting its physical stores and pouring all its marcomms budget into digital channels to support the growth of its online offering. Others have followed Next’s lead and concluded the more efficient way to power growth online is online media.
Trumpeting gains made in its share of the delivery market last month, Sainsbury’s CEO Simon Roberts told Marketing Week: “We find customers really respond to digital marketing in terms of both value and innovation, so that has been a strong platform for us and we have continued to grow it as more customers have shopped online.”
Despite lots of evidence multichannel campaigns that begin with “traditional” media are more effective and some slowing of the growth in ecommerce, the new year will see more time, attention and money invested in the infrastructure and skills to support digital channels and the media to promote it.