On Wednesday morning I began writing a post about predictions for 2021, only to spend much of the afternoon watching a brutal reminder that 2020 wasn’t quite done with us yet (my “Dry January” didn’t make it past that afternoon). And we shouldn’t expect it to be, really; the story of 2021 will be shaped by whether and how we recover from three national traumas: politics, civil unrest, and COVID-19. It’s a trifecta that has left us exhausted: physically, emotionally, economically, and otherwise.
Our traumas have accelerated some trends and reversed others both great and small. Restaurant customers look forward to dining in again…but they won’t give up expanded takeout options or home cocktail delivery without a fight. Inclusion and representation have shifted from matters of concern to moral imperatives, not only in hiring practices but in our attention to indigenous art and culture. Before last year, flexible work arrangements were a perk of some offices that seemed frivolous in others. Now they’re standard operating procedure wherever possible and that’s unlikely to change; we’ll be feeling the impact on commercial real estate and urban cores for decades.
Of course, at least some sort of resolution in sight for two of last year’s traumas. A new President will be sworn in less than two weeks, and COVID vaccines will become available over the course of this year. Will those resolutions bring relief? I think so. We want to get back out. To see people in person. To be part of a crowd. To check the morning news without anxiety. Americans are ready to smile again. We’re ready to live again. We’re ready for an explosion of joy and for a celebration of life.
Perhaps nobody feels these things more than Gen Z. They have drank less, smoked less, done less drugs, and had less sex than any other cohort of young people in decades. They’ve lived with an eye on the future, only to discover that tremendous misfortune can happen to them anyway. And they’re tired of feeling like they’re being held hostage – whether by the virus, by the police, by the prejudices and fears of their grandparents, or even by themselves. The voice of this largest generation in American history began to be heard last year; it will grow much louder as we emerge from our homes this year.
So with those things said, what should marketers do as we emerge from the traumas of 2020? We’ll be looking more closely at some of the specifics in coming months, but for now: help your customers free themselves from the anxiety and rise above the loathing. Help bring that explosion of joy to their lives. Help them make the `20s roar.
Get in touch with the PACO team, to learn more about our strategic and inclusive approach for 2021.