We might as well refer to 2020 as ‘Year One’; this has been the year that has transformed our lives beyond recognition. Society has changed dramatically, not just in the UK but across the globe. With the UK once again placed under a nationwide lockdown, now seems like a good time to explore the global marketing trends that have defined 2020; the year history will remember for the COVID-19 pandemic.
So, read on to understand the digital marketing trends of 2020, and learn how to apply them to your organisation to refine your international marketing strategy and take 2021 into your own hands.
People, planet, profit
People, planet and profit. These aren’t just three words that start with the letter ‘P’. They are the three pillars which make up the ‘triple-bottom-line ethos’.
You can’t understand the marketing trends of 2020 without understanding the three Ps. They are being adopted by a significant number of businesses as a fundamental three-pronged approach to business strategy.
So what does the triple-bottom-line ethos propose?
Triple-bottom-line is an economic theory that believes that businesses should commit to activities which have as much focus on social and environmental benefits as they do on the financial bottom line. So, instead of one bottom line, the theory suggests there should be three:
The concept has been gathering pace in recent years, gaining popularity especially after being featured in prestigious publications such as the Economist.
Indeed, in June 2019, Unilever made a bold announcement that they would cut ties with any brand in its family that doesn’t stand for something. Chief Executive Alan Jope put it this way: “We will dispose of brands that we feel are not able to stand for something more important than just making your hair shiny, your skin soft, your clothes whiter or your food tastier.”
This year, the inequality faced by black populations and other ethnic minorities all over the world was thrown into focus by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The backlash over the conduct of the police involved, and the systemic racism it spoke about, led to protests by the Black Lives Matter movement and other social groups. These seismic events have ensured brands reassess their attitudes towards all people, including various stakeholders: from employees to customers to the general public.
Uncle Ben’s, the face of microwaveable rice, recently underwent a name change after a review was carried out into the branding of the supermarket staple. Its owner Mars called a review after the public outcry in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death.
Many voices criticised Uncle Ben’s branding for perpetuating damaging racial stereotypes. Following the review, the company’s name was changed to Ben’s Original. This demonstrates the power of people and the importance of brands listening to their customers and ensuring their branding reflects the values of their audience.
Furthermore, with the sadly large number of COVID-19 job losses across various sectors, will employers reassess their approach to hiring, for the remainder of 2020 and looking ahead, to 2021? When recruiting in the future, companies will need to create a brand image which can attract a diverse workforce. Brands will likely focus more on company culture and inclusion, than remuneration as key selling points to attract new employees.
In 2020, we are facing a climate emergency. This crisis finally started to take root in the public consciousness in 2019 after the Extinction Rebellion protests. Amid a global pandemic, momentum shouldn’t be lost from the collective focus on the health of the planet; while the health of people is in jeopardy, brands and institutions need to keep planning for the future health of our planet, now more than ever.
How does your organisation’s marketing team communicate your impact on the planet?
When your brand has a serious commitment to the planet, communicating your positive impact on the environment to your customers can be a unique selling point which lends your brand a competitive advantage.
Organisations attempting to overplay their environmental and societal consciousness could be accused of greenwashing or whitewashing the truth for positive PR.
In today’s environmentally and socially conscious world, profit can no longer come before people and planet. Especially in this digital age, organisations acting in profit-driven self-interest are routinely exposed by their customers. Therefore, all attempts to implement the triple-bottom-line theory must be authentic, or they risk being seen through as a shallow attempt to appear to be more ethical than reality.
Now we’ve got to grips with what’s behind the marketing trends of 2020, let’s take a look at some common international marketing approaches.
Did you know that 50 per cent of internet searches are zero click? What this means is that after performing a Google search, half of the searchers end their session.
This is because Google has increasingly prioritised new search features, namely featured snippets and knowledge maps. These can include lists, videos and widgets. Furthermore, Google has become direct competitors to many businesses across varying sectors. An example is the travel industry. Here, users can now book flights and hotels on Google search engine results pages without clicking through to the website of an airline or holiday letting agent.
Re-write and reformat your content
So, for instance, if you’re in an industry where you’re seeing Google themselves dominate the search rankings you need to think about how to improve the visibility of your website content in search engine results pages.
By reformatting your website content your brand can take advantage of Google’s recent changes to boost the ranking of your pages on the world’s most popular search engine. For international businesses, this will require engaging a professional language translation services provider with expert local speakers, native to the target market(s) your business operates in.
The use of a local language expert is imperative because, to really boost search rankings, a brand really needs to understand searcher intent. With this understanding in hand, a brand can assess whether their page content is fully optimised to answer the search queries it’s created to satisfy.
If the circumstances of 2020 have prompted your brand to seek growth and expand into new markets, then a marketing localisation strategy should be central to your international marketing plan.
Even if your brand has already moved into overseas markets and is established, it’s never too late to fine-tune and perfect your localisation strategy.
Make localisation central to your expansion strategy
Localisation shouldn’t be the least thought-through element of your strategy. Rushed localisation or localisation as an afterthought will show through in sub-par translations, confused marketing campaigns and muddled branding.
Your localisation strategy will inform everything from the content and the tone of the language used on your website, to the imagery and colours you choose to associate with your brand and your marketing campaigns.
Rather than simply translating what has been successful once, it’s important to understand which concepts are even translatable at all in your target market(s) and understand the cultural elements unique to each country.
We hope 2021 is the year that brands start to make localisation central to their international marketing plans. By understanding the current marketing trend of the three Ps and how your organisational strategy is shaped by them, your brand will be able to move forward confidently, whatever market you operate in.
Choose translation partners, not suppliers
We consider ourselves partners to the brands we work with; we are an extension of your team, not simply a supplier of translations. That’s why our top 100 clients have been with us for an average of eight years, and many of our +1,300 clients have stayed with us since our formation in 2003.