Digital Trends to Expect in the New Year

Digital Trends

We live in an extremely digitized world, and that fact will only become more apparent in 2021. Here are some digital trends that people should look forward to once the new year arrives.

More Apps to Manage the COVID-19 The United Kingdom recently started vaccinating eligible groups against COVID-19, and analysts believe regulators in the United States and European Union will soon pave the way for residents there to have access to the vaccine, too.

People wonder whether they might need to show “vaccine passports” before doing things like going on a cruise ship or a plane or attending a crowded sports match or concert. However, some experts say that approach introduces ethical challenges that may cause more division.

Would people start looking down on other members of society because they are not yet vaccinated? What about those who cannot safely receive vaccines because of risks associated with their prescription medications or diagnosed conditions?

Even if people never have to prove their vaccination status to do certain activities, more apps associated with COVID-19 are already present. For example, Boots, a British pharmacy brand, offers COVID-19 tests to people who are not currently showing symptoms. Once customers sign up for one, they receive their results through an app.

There are also various companies offering apps to assist with contact tracing at workplaces, and more will likely become available soon.

Vaccine availability does not equal a quick end to the global pandemic. Scientists still don’t know whether getting vaccinated only protects people from getting symptoms or prevents them from spreading the virus too. Until health experts have information to clarify the currently unknown factors, apps will heavily influence how businesses and individuals manage in the so-called “new normal” and may enable reduced restrictions.

1. A Continuation of the Online Shopping Boom

Many people shopped online in 2020 because it seemed like the safest option that also provided convenience. A 2021 trend report indicates that people are likely to keep shopping online in the new year. Even if they did it for the first time this year, many got so accustomed to it that they see no reason to stop.

One notable tidbit from the data is that the popularity of online shopping among Generation Z and Baby Boomers has gone up by 57% since the third quarter of 2019. The report’s authors also believe that shift is a permanent one.

The report also found that consumers prize certain factors more than others when buying things online. For example, 60% wanted free delivery or returns. Then, 43% preferred online shops with quick and easy checkout processes.

In 2021, people should expect businesses to continually improve their e-commerce experiences. Offering online shopping is no longer sufficient. Brands must also create pleasant, handy experiences for people who shop online, proving that shopping online was a smart decision.

2. More Organizations Using Home-Produced Video Content

As the COVID-19 pandemic complicated matters in 2020, many company decision-makers chose to shoot videos differently in the name of safety. For example, instead of getting a bunch of people together on a set to go through scripted material, some businesses drew attention with user-submitted video clips. That way, people could stay home but still participate.

Today’s smartphones are increasingly advanced. Even someone with a budget model could shoot a reasonably good-quality clip in their homes without relying on additional equipment.

The BBC asked everyday people to send in videos for a charity event called The Big Night In. Producers of the show “America’s Got Talent” also asked people for videos for their chance to appear as contestants in an upcoming season. Both submission forms explicitly told people to follow COVID-19 guidelines while creating their clips.

The rise in video clips made at home brings mutual benefits for businesses and consumers. First, this approach can prove less expensive for companies, thereby helping them do more with their budgets. Customers also benefit because they potentially get more opportunities to interact with brands by sending them themed video clips. Many people would understandably feel excited about chances to appear in commercials after creating clips with their phones.

3. Social Media Interactions Proving Even More Important for Brands

People regularly use social media to keep up with their friends and get news about their favorite companies. However, a 2020 study also shows that social media significantly impacts what people buy.

More specifically, nearly nine in 10 consumers buy from brands they follow on social media. Additionally, three-quarters of respondents said they spend more when purchasing from companies that they also follow on social media.

However, the respondents’ answers showed that just being present on social media is not enough. That’s because 61% felt that a brand’s engagement with the audience on those channels helped make it top-class. Additionally, 40% of people who ask brands questions on social media expect answers within an hour.

These findings highlight why brand representatives should focus on improving social media interactions in 2021. Consumers are comfortable with connecting with brands through the platforms they use often. Companies can also make gains because people are more likely to reward brands with more sales if they have impressive social media engagement.

4. Personalization Becoming Even More Accurate Through Digital Channels

The information people receive from digital channels is becoming more personalized than ever. Have you noticed instances where you’ve browsed gourmet food on a website, then — as if by magic — received an email message that told you about a sale on the same products you’d looked at earlier?

Such interactions happen largely because of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI). Analysts believe AI will improve personalization and audience targeting in major ways during 2021. Some think that personalized, highly targeted content will become the norm that year.

Advanced digital technologies provide plenty of opportunities for companies to serve up more relevant content for their audiences. However, the people who use it must avoid any personalization that could come across as creepy or overreaching. If consumers feel that companies know too much — or don’t protect data — they may do business elsewhere.

On the other hand, better personalization brings lots of potential benefits to consumers. If a brand’s emailed offer saves them money or time, they’re more likely to take advantage of it. Plus, if a company’s communications are consistently valuable, the recipients will probably conclude that the brand belongs in their lives.

Digital Will Stay Dominant in 2021

People rely on digital technologies when they shop, work, keep themselves entertained, and participate in other regular activities. The trends mentioned here highlight why people should expect the world to become even more digitized in 2021.

What happens in the digital realm can affect what people buy, where they shop, how they engage with companies, and other aspects that could shape their lives and overall experiences. If forward-thinking company leaders keep these trends in mind while mapping out their plans for the new year, they’ll be in prime positions for success.

Lexie is a web designer and CX enthusiast. She enjoys hiking with her golden doodle and checking out local flea markets. Visit her design blog, Design Roast, and connect with her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.