Back in 2019, when we began publishing our series of reader predictions for 2020 there wasn’t any hint of a global pandemic.
As we move into 2021, we are all hoping that the role out of the long awaited vaccination will help us to return to a level of normality.
With this in mind, our annual predictions feature makes its return as we interview Matt Wheatcroft, Managing Director of full service marketing agency, Purpose Media, and ask him what he thinks will happen in 2021.
At best, I think the most positive adjective most of us would use to describe 2020 is ‘interesting’!
In time, as we reflect back on the turnover and profitability in our accounts for 2020, I predict that these figures will be pretty much disregarded as an anomaly from which our businesses either survived, came out stronger, or became the tipping point to failure.
As we look ahead to 2021, my personal feeling is that we’ve all had a hard a lesson in business continuity planning. Those that were able to be agile and adapt distribution channels quickly to offer a combination of on and offline buying options will have faired the best and will continue to do so as we move further into 2021.
I also predict that more big brands in high retailing will continue to struggle – they are oil tankers and taking too much time to change direction.
Additionally, whilst smaller businesses may think they have now got an opportunity to steal a march, they will only do so if their model is sustainable and supported with a clearly defined sales proposition, a loyal customer base and they have invested in their digital presence with buy on line or click and collect options.
This means that even the small business that did really well in 2020 having found a niche during lockdown when people had no choice but to shop local or buy online could also be in for a shock when normality returns towards winter 2021 and the high street have redefined their offer. Particularly if they also took the leap into having a physical store.
Which leads me to the all important prediction.
We will continue to see a raft of “To Let” boards go up in high street locations whilst stakeholders realise they have to invest in order to adopt the combi ‘on and off line’ business model which makes businesses more adaptable to threats and opportunities. The high street will return, but with a better, more customer focused, offer.
So whilst the pandemic has advanced everyone’s understanding of and appetite for digital marketing solutions and e-commerce solutions, my prediction is that the revival of local town centres fuelled by these new independent occupiers could also be short lived if they don’t learn from the mistakes of the big brands and ensure they have a sustainable future.