Is Humaning the Marketing Trend for 2021?
Many marketers (and their CEO bosses) have possibly had more time on their hands than usual. And spent more time with their favourite humans than they expected. Perhaps they realized how nice the outside world really is. Whatever. Fact is that many brands are keen to discover their ‘bigger purpose”. Tanishq was one example of a brand that used its commercial megaphone to propagate a set of beliefs, which didn’t go down so well with some.
The latest entrant is Mondelez (the owners of Cadbury’s and Oreo brands, amongst others) with ‘humaning’. The company defines humaning as “a unique, consumer-centric approach to marketing that creates real, human connections with purpose, moving Mondelez International beyond cautious, data-driven tactics and uncovering what unites us all”. This hasn’t come out of the blue – last year they published research which has gems like “80% of adults worldwide acknowledge the need for balance by appreciating the option of both healthy and indulgent snacks depending on the moment of need”, and how parents use snack time to connect with their kids. As someone who has been on a 3 month program to desperately reverse the impact of years of indulgent snacking, I might be a bit biased against candy companies at present 🙂 But this campaign sounds like “purpose-washing” – sugar-coating a business that essentially packages sugar in various formats to be one that enables human connections.
But consumers – and employees – are voting with their wallets for ‘good’ companies, so brand managers will definitely work hard in 2021 to show how they are better for the world. Some will be more authentic than others.
Next Wednesday (25th November, 3pm IST) I’m happy to be sharing the stage, rather, screen with Rahul Munjal, CEO of Hero Future Energies, and Anup Sharma, Independent Communications Consultant, to discuss the marketing trends for 2021. HFE is in the business of renewable energy which is definitely a good cause. In this session we are going to be talking about the trends we see in marketing, given that 2020 has seen a huge amount of behavioural modification and digital transformation.
A trend which I think is likely to stay is “Direct to Consumer”. The COVID-19 lockdown has taught many businesses how to move past their traditional distribution patterns and sell directly to the consumer – through ecommerce portals, their own websites and apps, and physical pop up stores.
In B2B, the traditional sales model has been disrupted as well. Will it go back to the way things were once the vaccine works its wonders? I don’t think so, because a lot of changes have already been set in motion. Two big elements of B2B marketing will not go back to 2019 is my view. Given Rahul’s position in the B2B space – as a provider and in procurement – we’re going to delve a bit more into this topic.
We’ve seen a lot of country branding play out this year (Huawei, TikTok) and it would be interesting to see how that plays out in 2021. What is India known for was a question that generated a lot of discussion on social media. Some are positive, though not all. Will we be able to monetize that remains the question – will 2021 be the year of the “Made in India” brand? More on this in the next issue.

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