The Biggest Lessons for Brands in 2021

2020 was a challenging year for many brand leaders, and a lot of those difficulties have already carried over in 2021. However, 2020 also offered several important lessons that can make all brands stronger and more prepared for the future. If there’s anything that last year taught us, it’s that while brands can’t always predict what’s going to happen, they can take steps to make sure that they’re prepared for anything that the future has in store.


Flexibility is Key

Brand leaders spend years developing practices to make sure that every element of the production and sales processes run quickly and efficiently. However, some of these practices were flipped completely upside-down by the obstacles and demands of the pandemic. While it’s important for day-to-day operations to have an effective routine, brand leaders also need to have backup procedures in place in case some part of this routine gets disrupted – especially for potential long-term problems.

The most flexible and nimble brands were able to successfully reorganize their procurement and distribution processes. Meanwhile, other brands struggled with massive lags in importing products or ingredients, scrambled to fulfill orders, and navigated COVID outbreaks in their own warehouses. 2020 taught us that in order to be successful, brand leaders need to have clear strategies for how to push through significant business disruptions and have the ability to change course immediately when it’s necessary.


Brands Need to Evolve with their Consumers

2020 also taught us that consumer needs can change very quickly, and that brands need to be able to evolve and offer support where its needed. Sometimes this can be a simple change, such as reflecting the new needs of parents by updating messaging on snack packaging from “on-the-go” callouts to convenience callouts.

In other cases, brands have needed to make much larger changes. One of the best examples of this is when we saw alcohol brands pivot to manufacturing hand sanitizer during the retail shortage in the first few months of the pandemic. This showed the entire CPG industry how brands could use the resources at their disposal to rise to the occasion and support consumers in an important way.

Some brands have also found themselves with a variety of new customers. Among many changes, Americans are cooking more for themselves at home, eating together more, and relying on activities at home for entertainment. Now that brands have new consumers that might be outside of their usual demographic, brand leaders will have to put in the resources to get to know these new shoppers and update their brand with innovative new designs and products to retain them.


eCommerce Really is the Future

2020 was the biggest year for online grocery shopping to date, and it is very likely that the pandemic has changed consumer shopping habits forever. This shift has a lot of implications for things like new product discovery, product sampling, and impulse purchases. Now that it’s clear that ecommerce really is the future of grocery, food and beverage brands will need to rethink their sales and marketing strategies with ecommerce as a primary consideration.

2020 was a really wild ride, but 2021 will present its own challenges as well. By embracing the lessons that 2020 offered and bringing these new insights into future plans, brands can make sure that they can handle anything that this year has in store.

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