2021: COVID-19 and the Consumer Landscape in Scotland

For anyone else who left the office in March with enough supplies to last them a 2-week stint at home, it will be no surprise that the theme of this year was ‘uncertainty’. The big question is how much next year will follow suit.

In our Edinburgh office we’ve spent a good deal of this year understanding the impact of COVID-19 on the present; how it’s shaped the media habits, eating habits and working habits of different groups. In planning activity for next year, we have attempted to answer the question that even those well versed in the zodiac are struggling with – what will next year look like? How long will ‘all of this’ last? And when it’s over, what will stick and how will we have changed?

The ‘2021: COVID-19, the consumer landscape, and preparing for the new normal’ report outlines the key trends we expect to shape next year. The biggest thing that stands out to me? The sense that collaboration is a thread that will run through many of the shifts in human behaviour and drive;

  • The idea of ‘allyship’ came to the fore in 2020, and with most people stuck at home that has forced people to form alliances online. As a result, digital communities and tools for collaboration are working harder than ever before.
  • With most at home, apps like Nextdoor and Olio are allowing people to interact with neighbours – a nice counteraction to any ‘shop your neighbours’ narratives!
  • In light of recessionary pressure, some are turning to subscription models that allow them to share products with others.
  • Necessity has driven more to work together to get through this crisis. Brands are working together to share or borrow authority. Resources are pooled. Know-how is shared. We saw that here in our own office, when Quality Meat Scotland joined forces with their counterparts in England and Wales to promote the ‘Make It’ campaign across the UK.

‘Purpose driven marketing’ has long been in vogue, so much so that many efforts were met with cynicism. Who would have thought we’d face such a dramatic chance for brands to put their money where their mouth is?! Brands like BrewDog, The Co-op and Louis Vuitton LVMH supported COVID-specific efforts, actions that had the dual effect of helping people and improving brand equity. If this year saw brands tying their purpose to the fight against COVID, I predict that 2021 will reward signs of collaboration.

Joining forces as a force for good.

The second cousin of collaboration, community, also runs throughout this report. COVID has had a peculiar impact on our sense of community. At first, there was a global sense of being ‘in it together’. As restrictions got more localised, so did our sense of community. In Scotland some tied governmental response to political manoeuvre. All eyes will be on the 2021 Scottish election to see how public perception of the response, and feelings about the Scottish ‘community’ in 2020, shape the outcome. 

We are proud to work on many brands with strong Scottish heritage and these themes will impact the way we promote our values within Scotland and further afield. We’ve also already been speaking to clients about the way collaboration can shape our strategy. That might be about joining forces with others, with co-branding and brand extensions. It could be about sharing intel across borders. Or it may well be about putting rivalries aside. Just don’t expect me to say that when we’re back at the football.

Download the 2021: COVID-19, the consumer landscape, and preparing for the new normal here.

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