ADMA shares learnings from 2020 and predictions for the future. ADMA had the opportunity to sit down with five pre-emptive leaders in Australia for their views on how we can learn from 2020 and what 2021 holds.

As much as we all heard the words pivot and unprecedented, our colleagues pick resilience as the word for 2020. How does that set us up for 2021? Cookies could feature heavily.

ADMA reached out to some key leaders in our community to understand where they were at the end of this year. We spoke to Mim Haysom, Executive General Manager Brand & Marketing at Suncorp, Susan Coghill, CMO at Tourism Australia, Mel Hopkins CMO at Optus, together with ANZ’s Head of Personalisation Group Marketing, Trisca Scott-Branagan and Hipages’ Chief Customer Officer, Stuart Tucker from our advisory committee. We asked them to reflect on their biggest takeaways for 2020. The one word that came up again and again was resilience. This is the year where we all learnt more about ourselves than we knew, Susan Coghill expressed it perfectly “the most important takeaway from 2020 is the need to build and maintain mental resilience.” It’s one of the reasons ADMA started the conversation with Thrive Global to launch their platform to our members.

While we have all embraced a new digital lifestyle Stuart Tucker asks if we need to make sure we encourage our communication in the physical world, “in a world of Zoom and remote working how do we remain connected, motivated and innovating?”. Almost all of these great minds mentioned how vital the humanitarian aspect of how we all relate has become that much more important. Caring for our families, teams and customers has been paramount. All of our board has indicated that these are some of the things that we don’t want to lose as we move into 2021. We all know that January 1st does not mean that the whole world changes “the reality is that 2021 will have many of the same challenges as 2020, along with a few new ones.” Susan Coghill.

So what do they predict for 2021? Overwhelmingly they are positive about 2021 however also share some very sage advice.

The ‘death of the cookie’ is at the top of many of their minds with Mel Hopkins from Optus asking, “who really has planned for the loss of the independent ad tech ecosystem and the adjustment advertisers need to make.”

Here are their top predictions:

Susan Coghill from Tourism Australia states that the challenges of 2020 won’t magically disappear on 1st January 2021 – as much as we wish they would! And there will be significant new challenges as we move through this crisis into recovery. But with that comes significant opportunities for individuals and businesses alike. So it’s important to wrap up 2020, take the learnings that you can, and head into the new year with an open mind and fresh perspective to find new and creative solutions to what lies ahead.

The imminent demise of the cookie means focus on first party data, leading to more responsible personalisation and a better and more meaningful value exchange for consumers and the brands that love them.

The continued shortening of the business planning (and replanning) cycle from annual to quarterly, to even shorter in some sectors. Smart marketers will continue to have a long-term plan for the brand, but the current pace of change and uncertainty means that businesses need a more agile and flexible approach to planning and forecasting into order to be more nimble and responsive as needed.

Mim Haysom from Suncorp predicts that we will see a continued acceleration of E-Commerce & Digital Transformation. Faced with a sudden shift in market conditions and consumer behaviours, including a mass move to virtual channels, companies must re-tool for speed and agility, implementing major changes that might have taken them months or years prior to the crisis. In this context, it will not be enough for businesses to just re-position their brands. They will need to continue to evolve and re-think their customer experiences, value propositions, go-to-market strategies, and operations.

She also states that brands that move at the speed of culture, and tap into it, will thrive. The bar has been raised on customer’s expectations around their experiences and engagements with brands. Brands that tap into the shifting mood and sentiment of the nation and engage with customers in the ‘new normal’ in meaningful and relevant ways will thrive. Those that don’t keep up and respond accordingly will become irrelevant and obsolete.

The Environment will dominate… once again. There has been much to distract us over the last 12 months. Striking images of disposable masks littering the world’s streets somewhat undermine our collective concern for the environment. However, under a new Biden administration, the US will draw renewed attention to the Environment as it shifts to a more Global outlook versus the Trump administration. Biden has already laid out a US$2 trillion clean energy and infrastructure plan alongside a commitment to re-join the Paris agreement with a goal of net-zero emissions by 2050. Consumers at large have not forgotten about environmental issues. Neither should Brands. Companies and Brands that put sustainability at the forefront of their business plan for 2021 will find themselves on the right side of the ledger as the world works towards ticking off the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Stuart Tucker from Hipages states that trust will become the number one factor for brand choice. After the disappointment of 2020, consumers will be looking to brands that supported them and 'did the right thing' by them - building trust in the process.

Retail will need to reinvent itself to encourage consumers back to physical shopping experiences when they are now so comfortable with the convenience of e-commerce.

Digital brands that have emerged from the pack during Covid have the opportunity to embed themselves as the default if they play their cards right. Rather than being an 'alternative' they can become the 'norm' (hipages is a good example).

Mel Hopkins from Optus shared that brands connecting to a ‘new Australia’ will be the great darlings and successes. Products, services and offerings that really connect to the refreshed value set of a ‘new Australia’ will win.

In addition to her prediction of the death of the cookie Mel also says that companies will continue to lead with amazing transparency and empathy, hybrid working and honesty will see employee engagement and indeed their profits rise like never before.

Trisca Scott-Branagan from ANZ predicts that we will have a lot more cross-functional marketing-data conversations as we mature our focus on personalised customer interactions.

We will also gain further clarity on the skills needed for the future of marketing, particularly as we uncover how to move from customer “personalisation” to customer “anticipation”.

We will find a new balance between work-from-office and work-from-home: not because of restrictions, but because of a human choice. It will be about finding the best of both worlds.