Trends 2021: The value of value and opening up marketing

All week Marketing Week has been highlighting the key opportunities and challenges that will shape marketers’ working world in 2021. Last up, the value of value and the need to open up marketing.


Our coverage of the ‘trends’ for the year ahead is slightly different this year.

Yes, we are flagging what we think you should be spending your time and money on, and why, but equally it is a commitment from us to focus on these topics in 2021 to help you better navigate the year ahead.

There’s little point flagging these challenges as important without going the extra mile and offering analysis and insight into how to tackle them.

It’s part prediction, part rallying call, part contents for 2021.

The value of value

strengthWith a Covid-19 vaccine now rolling out in the UK, hopes are growing that life could return to some semblance of normality next year. However, it is likely to take society and the economy much longer to get back to normal as attention switches from managing its health impact to recovering from the financial cost of the pandemic.

We are likely to see high unemployment once the furlough scheme ends, along with possible rises in taxes or cuts to government spending as the job of paying back the response to the crisis kick in. Add other unknowns such as the impact of Brexit to the equation, and it is clear consumer confidence and spending are likely to remain low.

Trends 2021: Adopting a two-speed strategy and embracing failure

In this recessionary environment, brands and marketers need to show their worth. It will be all too easy to pull the price and promotion levers, paving the way for a sea of red as discounts pervade the high streets and the ecommerce world.

That might work for some, but the best marketers will be thinking about what more their brands, products and services can offer consumers.

A race to the bottom on price helps no business in the long term, so it will be vital to think about the other levers that can be pulled. Is there a way to offer additional value through better quality product, innovation, customer service or new experiences?

The businesses that can do this will come out of the economic crisis of Covid-19 in a much better position. It is up to marketers to find other solutions. SV

And finally, a call to action – make apprenticeships a trend

WelcomeOne of the great tragedies of 2020 is the number of people made redundant. Young people aged 16-24 are among the biggest group impacted, either losing their job or seeing opportunities dry up.

A recent survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development found less than half of employers were expected to hire young people in 2021. This despite the Government’s “Plan for Jobs”, which incentivises organisations to take on young trainees and apprentices. Despite generous incentives, only 5% of employers polled who were not planning to offer apprenticeship schemes before the Government’s initiative was announced intend to now.

As Marketing Week has illustrated many times, there is an historical imbalance in the recruitment of young people into the marketing industry. Brands often retreat to their comfort zone, with most roles for new entrants developed with graduates in mind. Fishing in the same pool of candidates narrows the diversity and perspective of your team.

Is marketing ready to break down the barriers for diverse young talent?

As Nationwide’s head of membership told us earlier this year of its commitment to hiring apprentices from The Marketing Academy Foundation: “You’d be cutting off your nose to spite your face if you were going to stop young, creative, vibrant people joining your department.”

There has been progress in the last year. The Foundation continues to partner with brands to create programmes for people from challenging backgrounds and the Chartered Institute of Marketing, which is an end point assessor for apprenticeships at all levels, told Marketing Week it has been “encouraged” by the interest from companies and individuals in the schemes it assesses.

Apprenticeships provide a new route into the marketing profession and in doing so they widen accessibility to those who might not ordinarily consider marketing as a career. In the middle of a recession, they can also play a part in offering young people a foot in the door. For apprenticeships to realise their potential it needs brands and influencers to make the case, and provide the funding. RP