What CMOs can learn from Gartner’s marketing predictions for 2021

The latest Gartner report has revealed marketing predictions for 2021 and beyond during the Gartner Marketing Symposium/Xpo in the Americas December 1-3.
Jennifer Polk Gartner
“The need for vision, innovation and transformation has never been more pronounced for marketers,” said Jennifer Polk, vice president analyst in the Gartner Marketing practice. “Marketers need to reinvent how they engage with today’s customers by using online and offline channels to create rich, creative and immersive experiences.”

Marketing predictions for 2021

By 2024, 30 percent of large organizations will identify content moderation services for user generated content as a C-Suite priority.

Major social media and retailer platforms dependent on user generated content to drive engagement and sales face a deluge of malicious content, ranging from fraudulent reviews and product listings to the misguided sharing of false or unverified content.

As a result, a growing number of content moderation service and tech providers have entered the market. As these technologies and services mature, organizations will start to employ them in greater volume and frequency, ultimately leading to increased spend over the next four years.

By 2022, 1/3 of publicity budgets dedicated to crisis communications will be used in response to employees speaking out against their organization.

Across all sectors and job types, employees are growing increasingly comfortable speaking up about their employer and working conditions – from calling out a lack of COVID-19 safety precautions, to racial bias and suspect business practices.

36 percent of employees report speaking out either for or against their company in the past year. This is not going unnoticed by executives, with legal, compliance and privacy leaders reporting employee activism among the top 15 concerns in 2020.

Organizations must combat the negative perception and reputational risks that come with employees speaking out. Organizations will need to dedicate resources to addressing negative employee commentary and staying abreast of discrepancies between what marketers are saying and what employees are experiencing.

By 2023, 25 percent of organizations will amalgamate marketing, sales and CX into a single function.

Seventy-seven percent of marketing leaders report they struggled to keep up with changes in customer needs, and 87 percent believe shifts in customer needs will become even more common over the next few years. This has forced many organizations to seek long-term collaborative solutions.

As a result, the area of overlap between customer experience (CX), sales and marketing functions is increasing. Organizations will formally combine sales and marketing and CX under a single leader who has clear and unambiguous accountability to maintain and grow customer lifetime value and profitability.

By 2023, 60 percent of businesses that pivoted to virtual events will incorporate real-time/real-space experiential elements into marketing experiences.

Consumers demonstrated just how quickly they could shift their behavior to new technologies and channels with the COVID-19 pandemic. B2C and B2B customers aren’t moving from analog to digital, they are moving away from a digital-analog binary towards hybrid/mixed-mode experiences.

Many brands have already begun to adopt more practical and convenient options for customers, such as curbside pickup and returns, or real-time store inventory availability. Expect to see more augmented reality apps that will offer more real space or face sense of tangibility, and experiential offerings such as drive-through pop ups and exclusive digital sensory experiences.

By 2025, consumers’ omnichannel buying behavior will drive 60 percent of B2C brands to move toward functional, rather than channel-based organization.

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the blending of physical and digital commerce today. Leading B2C brands in this environment have proven the efficacy of blending digital and physical channels to support customers new preferred methods of shopping and fulfillment, rather than treating web and physical channels as separate entities.

However, this omnichannel blend is not often reflected in marketing organizational structures, with only 30 percent of B2C brands reporting they have functional organizational alignment. Brands hinging their future plans on e-commerce—and structuring teams accordingly—should think twice.

By 2025, 20 percent of B2C revenue will be generated from recurring revenue models, resulting in profound shifts in marketing strategies, spend and channels.

2020 has seen a significant increase in subscription revenue amid the COVID-19 pandemic. This trend is only expected to increase, as consumers continue to benefit from the convenience of regular replenishment and zero-click purchases.

However, increased competition in this space will test consumer loyalty. Brands must plan for, and actively manage, customer churn. Successful subscription brands will need to be adept at anticipating consumers’ needs and augment offerings accordingly, understanding that what delights consumers today can become commoditized quickly.