New research from Aussie indie digital agency, Sparro, highlights the biggest challenges and opportunities facing Australian brands, as marketers across all industries adapt to the ongoing changes brought about by the uncertainty of 2020.
Economic downturn and remaining agile in a post COVID-19 world are considered the biggest issues facing businesses, with data protection (21 per cent), keeping on top of changing laws and regulations linked to COVID-19 (18 per cent) and remaining meaningful to customers (18 per cent) also cited as top concerns.
But it’s not all doom and gloom – 2020 has arguably presented unique opportunities for businesses and the majority of marketers believe their brand perception has improved this year, suggesting the upheaval brought about by bushfires, lockdowns and the Black Lives Matter movement has helped foster greater brand purpose and stronger relationships with customers.
The study surveyed more than 200 marketing decision makers working in companies with more than 20 employees.
According to the survey, changing consumer habits as a result of the pandemic are believed to be one of the biggest opportunities for Australian brands, followed by changing media consumption habits (31 per cent) and Facebook and Instagram’s new e-commerce platform.
Sparro Founding Partner, Cam Bryant, said the findings reiterate that despite this year’s challenges, 2020 has ultimately provided a climate for brands to emerge stronger and better prepared for future digital, environmental and political disruption.
“The events of 2020 have forced brands to jump ahead of their digital agendas, rethink their purpose and shake up their marketing approach to stay on top of the incredible shift and speeding up of consumer behaviour that’s transpired over the past six months.
“Not surprisingly, the brands with the biggest competitive advantage were a step ahead. They were agile, digital-first businesses that had strong culture and leadership. They practised customer-first product and service design before isolation required it, and they’re reaping the benefits as a result.
“But COVID-19 hasn’t only benefited brands’ digital agendas. It’s also made way for a new wave of creative innovation, with two in five marketers believing the pandemic has prompted greater risk-taking and braver work,” he added.
The research also shines a light on how 2020 has changed marketing needs and shaped how brands work with their agency partners.
Evolving agency relationships:
Almost all marketers (93 per cent) agree the way in which they work with their agency has changed this year
Half (51 per cent) say they rely on their agency more than ever to provide real-time insights to respond to constantly changing circumstances
Half (48 per cent) rely on their agency’s digital expertise more than ever while 40 per cent say the way in which they work with their agency has become more dynamic
Changes to marketing needs
More than three quarters (76 per cent) say the upheaval caused by COVID-19 has changed their businesses’ marketing needs with increased need for brand strategy (49 per cent), content marketing (48 per cent) and digital expertise (46 per cent) cited as the most common changes
Digital in focus
When thinking about marketing budgets for 2021, marketers are prioritising digital (56 per cent), performance (43 per cent) and content marketing (42 per cent)
Digital channels are expected to receive the biggest lift in spend – almost 2 in 3 (64 per cent) plan to spend more on digital channels in 2021 while 4 out of 10 marketers say they will spend more on performance (41 per cent), audio (41 per cent) and PR (41 per cent).
Budgets for print and outdoor channels are expected to take the biggest hit, with more than 1 in three marketers (35 per cent) planning to spend less on these channels in 2021
Three quarters of marketers plan to increase spend with their digital marketing agency in 2021
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