2021 Top Trends

There are certainly some words which were used over and over again in 2020 which have contributed to language change and development. These words include Bushfire, Coronavirus, Lockdown, Social Distancing, Black Lives Matter, Cancel Culture and Superspreader. The fact that rather than having one ‘Word of the Year’, there are several for 2020, shows that it was a very unusual year with vast changes in social, political, global and cultural events.   

Research shows that in 2020, 52% of Australians have spent more time with their families/household members and want this to continue in their life. Similarly 49% of Australians enjoyed a slower pace of life while 49% also want the ability to prioritise financial savings to continue. Positive for the OPE industry, the love for the outdoors was rekindled with 34% of Australians having spent more time in nature.

As we look ahead to 2021, “it’s important for leaders to have the foresight, and to be able to see things not just as they are, but as they will be”, so here are the top 10 trends inspired by McCrindle Research Agency’s Strategic Insights 2021 virtual event I was fortunate enough to attend recently. 

1. Slowing Population Growth

After two centuries of population growth, in 2021 we will continue to see a rapid slow down of population growth. Closed international borders have forced the end of international travel and migration of which 60% has been the biggest source of population growth in recent years.  This coincides with Australia’s lowest recorded birth rate with a fall of 3.2% in 2020. This means Australia is predicted to have 1 million people less in a decade’s time than predictions indicated prior to COVID-19. 

2. Regional areas on the rise

While 76% of Victorians live in Melbourne, 65% of NSW dwellers live in Sydney, and 48% of Queenslanders live in Brisbane – there is a tree change and sea change trend providing growth and demand outside capitals. Due to greater working from home, people’s interest and appeal of regional areas is on the rise. Regions have always had lifestyle advantages and now they have employment benefits too. This represents a shift in our thinking as marketers, to ensure we consider more in depth marketing strategies in cities, not just capital cities.  

3. The Return to Local

While central CBD shopping centres struggle with the ongoing effects of the pandemic, some local shops seem to be faring much better. Shoppers have indicated they are shopping at their local stores more than they ever did before the pandemic, and some retailers with multiple locations reported generally better sales in their stores on local high streets compared to those in city centres. With reduced public transport use and a safer shopping experience, many consumers have been pleasantly surprised by what they found in their local area and so want to keep shopping there. 

What this means is that geographical communities are the new primary communities once more. From big box to more small boxes and reduced commutes, the way we live, work and engage in our local communities is a new priority for 2021. 

4. Housing trend changes 

2020 has driven new attitudes and redefined the way Australians want to live. 50% of Australians plan on looking for a new home to rent or buy that incorporates more of what they value in the next year or two. Apartment dwellers (29%) are more likely than detached home dwellers (18%) to be very or extremely likely to move in the next two years.  With those who have worked from home this year twice as likely as those who haven’t to look for a new place to call home. The ‘study’ being the number one most interested area of the house when searching for a new home, followed by the outdoor area, pool and shed being the next most popular areas of the house researched.

5. Remote working

The way we work has seen the biggest transformation in a century with the 2020 work from home orders, which has triggered a redefinition of lifestyle. This has meant the rise of non traditional hours and days, the increased use of digital collaboration, and diminished the separation between profession and personal. The future of office work will be hybrid with three in five Australians looking for a mix of working from home and workplace. This hybrid approach shows that there are aspects of workplace culture and community which are missed when working solely from home. 

6. Well being

Individual, team, organisational and societal wellbeing is a goal people are always striving towards. COVID-19 induced lockdowns however brought anxiety, health concerns and financial impacts, and also provided an opportunity for Australians to rebalance their lives. In 2021, Australians will look for ways to maintain a slower pace of life, greater work/life balance, time savings and a focus on wellbeing. As such, those businesses who incorporate a focus on health and wellbeing of their people will prosper.  

7. Digital Integration 

COVID-19 was the catalyst and technology was the enabler which has created digital transformation which will only continue to propel us forward in 2021. 90% believe this COVID experience will cause technology and screens to become more integrated in their lives. Businesses need to ensure they are equipped to meet the increasing consumer demand for digital and online services. They need to find the best practises to ensure the integration of their online and offline worlds enable their business to thrive in line with consumer demand for simplicity, personalisation and customisation.

8. Cautious consumers

In these volatile economic times, consumer confidence is low, people are searching for value and carefully assessing their purchases. 41% of Australians managed to increase their household savings due to uncertainty around employment and the realities of recession. This will mean consumers continue to build their savings and take a conservative approach to spending through 2021.  

9. Continued volatility and change

The pandemic was a driver for fundamental shifts in the way we perform everyday tasks. We have moved from cash and credit card, to online shopping and contactless. We have shifted from pressing buttons to gesture control, and from being employable to being entrepreneurial. Continued lifestyle changes will be driven by continued ways of working and living during the pandemic with many technologies which have been introduced, making second and third wave technological improvements.  

10. Data is an asset

There are many more core trends in the way our economy, work places and community are evolving through the pandemic. The above are some core trends, however data and automation will help businesses re-organise and keep in touch with consumers at a whole new level. Now more than ever we need to stay close and communicate with real time relevance, none of which is possible without solid consumer data in our systems. Accurate salutation, name, email address, mobile phone number and address.

Collection of this data needs to be on an opt-in basis, and with it, you open new doors and possibilities to do business more remotely while staying relevant and timely. Businesses also need to protect and secure data just as they would any other asset.

Cybercrime is on the rise and so cybersecurity is a necessity. Another important thing for businesses to consider is how to boost data literacy in their company in 2021 in order to glean decision-making insights from it. This may also require an investment in systems that can efficiently and effectively process, analyse, and store the data streaming into the organisation.

The strength of an organisation comes from its stories and traditions, but the future of an organisation rests in its relevance, innovation and keeping up with core trends and factors affecting business at the time, and the above list is a solid guide to the factors businesses today should be thinking about. It is those organisations that continue to innovate and remain relevant in a changing landscape which will thrive in 2021 and beyond.

Jo Katsos, Marketing Director, 
STIHL Australia