Three shifts in marketing strategies heading into 2021

Senior media agency leaders on how their clients’ approaches are changing

December 9, 2020

Three shifts in marketing strategies heading into 2021

How radically will the return to growth strategies that marketers follow in 2021 differ from the plans they had in place this time last year? We asked a group of marketing and media thinkers with a unique perspective on how the landscape is changing: the senior leaders and strategists at media agencies.

LinkedIn’s roundtable of agency leaders are experts who are closely involved with helping brands and businesses navigate the way ahead. Here’s their take on how the next 12 months could play out, the types of insights that are guiding brands’ approach, and how the priorities of marketers could be changing:

Digital buyer journeys are here to stay

Digital buyer journeys are everywhere, as businesses respond to the pandemic by accelerating digital transformation, ramping up eCommerce efforts and re-imagining how purchases are made

There’s a new normal now – and the most frequent questions clients ask are about eCommerce.”

Catherine Chappell
Global Paid Social Lead and Product Partner, iProspect


eCommerce is a huge focus for clients: how can they ramp it up and how much spend can they divert there? Those who already had eCommerce ambitions have massively accelerated them with increased focus in 2021 and beyond.”

Clare Chapman
EVP Head of Media EMEA, Essence


Businesses are prioritising agility and visibility

Marketers can’t afford to put plans on hold until greater certainty emerges. In the meantime, they’re pressing ahead, planning around contingencies, and preparing to respond nimbly when things change. Fundamental to this approach is a growing recognition that staying visible should be a priority.

We’re all just reacting to so many volatile things at the moment: the R number, the whims of Government, the weather. It’s hard to predict what tomorrow will look like. In this situation you either wait for things to calm down, a luxury that most of us, and

most brands, don’t have, or you forge ahead and try and make things work out of sheer effort and will.”

Dominic Whitehurst
Strategy Director, Havas Media Group


I understand the internal pressures that brands and marketing departments are under as predictions might be difficult to make. However, there’s a need to get in front of any shifting behavioural habits which could lead to purchase substitutions that could stick over time. Clients also need to ensure that when demand comes back, they benefit more than competitors during the recovery. That’s why many brands should still find a way to be active and present.”

Lucy Collier
Strategy Director, Havas Media Group


If 2020 has shown us anything it's that we just don't know what is around the corner. But we must continue to help our clients' drive their businesses forward, so we're planning confidently with what visibility we have, aided by all the learning gained over the past few months, and always bearing in mind that these plans may have to be agile.”

Clare Chapman


Ways of operating will have to change

With pressure on budgets, agencies are finding new ways to work with clients, finding cost efficiencies where they can in order to maintain spend and share of voice.

I think Covid will be part of our context for years, and most people and businesses are still not accepting this reality. The economic impact really varies depending on the vertical. Those that are struggling are focusing on temporary changes with an eye on survival. Those that are doing better are focusing on long-term evolution and the changes they are making will be more permanent.”

Thiago Correa
Head of Performance Media, Zenith


Whilst there has been a lot of disruption to plans, I’m amazed by the spirit I've seen in people to find new solutions – and also that certain human truths remained the same throughout this period of upheaval.”

Lucy Collier

Clients have had to lean on their agencies more than ever this year, testing our relationships and ways of working together in the strongest possible terms. And you know what? I believe we've impressed them. After years of demoralising industry noise questioning the value of agencies, 2020 has really underlined why we're still needed and how we add value.”

Clare Chapman