'2021 will be the year of continued digital transformation and engagement’

Guest Column: The never normal world will see the merger of offline and online worlds, called the 'phygital' experience, says Gopa Kumar, Chief Operating Officer, Isobar India

e4m by Gopa Kumar
Published: Dec 15, 2020 7:38 AM  | 5 min read
Gopa Kumar - Isobar

As we bid goodbye to 2020, who would have known the year would turn out like this, and how this black swan event of our era will change our life, livelihood, and change the way we interact from now on. The Never Normal world is here to stay and for long. The world has changed, and our lives will never be the same.

The pandemic has changed how we experience products and how we as a consumer receive them as well. As we enter 2021, we expect these changes to continue to happen. For all the hardships that COVID-19 bought in, it has also turned out to be a transformational event for the digital industry, which accelerated the adoption and usage of the Internet further. Work from home and all other restrictions have created new services and models across sectors like healthcare, education, ecommerce. This also added newer users across sectors such as entertainment, where consumption of content & screen time has increased very quickly during these times. This has potentially changed the digital landscape, an era that is driven by a rapid increase in digital reach coupled with a rapid increase in the width of usage amongst current internet users. According to many reports, the usage will propel the growth of the internet to higher levels.

My thoughts on what will become more important for brands & marketeers as we enter 2021:

Authenticity and Trust will become even more important and brands will have to work even harder to gain trust from consumers. The Communication that will be sent out needs to connect with consumers and meet their Human needs. Thus, the consumers will connect and be in a better place in the future. The messaging should be transparent and delivering on those messages should be consistent and reliable.  

Agile & Flexibility - Successful marketing efforts will be the ones who are agile and invest in the same. Because the pandemic will continue to move in an uncertain zone. Hence, the marketing efforts need to be both flexible and agile to adapt to the fluid environment around us and winners will be those who invest in agile marketing strategies. 

Continued Focus on Innovation - Brands and Marketing need to continue to push the innovation agenda. Covid anyhow has pushed companies to transform and there is a huge digital push that is happening across the business. The Business which will continue to be imaginative and innovative will stand the test of time and also gain consumer confidence and trust.

One on One Connect - I spoke earlier about brands being authentic and being purposeful in their marketing efforts, one feels building the connection with consumers is the most important thing that brands need to do, however, it is a decision between safe or cheap. Safe Delivery over Fast Delivery. Being environment conscious than being fashionable.

Focus on Phygital Experience - The never normal world will have to come to terms with the “phygital” experience i.e. the merger of offline and online worlds. People will continue to strive for entertainment, but safety will also be the buzz word. Businesses need to think about how to adjust it for the coming times. They need not focus only on problems but explore new opportunities as well. Every offline event will have an online component and those digital experiences will evolve and should strive to give great customer engagement and interactivity.

E-commerce will become even more important - India is anyway in midst of the e-commerce revolution and this will further get accelerated because of the Pandemic. As a result, 2021 will be the year where small and mid-size companies will also transform into e-commerce bandwagon and focus on customer experience. Shoppable posts will continue to be used increasingly, the focus will be to reduce the number of obstacles between brand and consumer. All the allied things around us like delivery, ease of payment, and advertising has made it easier for companies.

Influencer Space will continue to get crowded as more brands will feel the need of the influencers to connect to their TG. Micro and Nano Influencers will become increasingly sought-after Micro-influencers with small but still relevant reach can maintain closer relationships with their followers and drive better ROI for brands.

Talent Overhaul - With workspaces evolving in 2021 and companies coming to terms with remote working, there would be a talent overhaul in companies across, where everyone will look inwards on the kind of talent pool they currently have and what is required in this never normal world. Marketing teams will have to develop new structures to stand out and be competitive in this new environment. 

As we enter 2021, it is safe to assume that this will be the year of continued digital transformation and engagement where the innovative use of technology, marketing strategy and creative ideas will be the need of the hour. Businesses will need to be agile, responsive, and connected even more with their consumers & strive to give them a great customer experience. On a lighter note, my only hope is that the coming year would be a less eventful year. Everyone needs to catch a breath and focus on things that matter.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of


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