January 28th saw the year’s first big event for advertisers with the online event 'RESET 2021: Shape Advertising’s Future'.

As co-sponsors of RESET 2021 we naturally zoomed in, with high hopes of gaining fresh insights into the future from the great and the good of adland. Unfortunately, while there were some great speakers, we felt the event might as well have been called 'REVISIT 2020'. And that isn’t what any of us need right now. Leaving aside the irony of an Advertising Association event being ‘not as advertised’, we believe there is an urgent need for advertisers to reset absolutely everything. That means: 
  1. Being mindful of the here and now, without dwelling on the past.
  2. Thinking ahead to how consumers will behave once lockdown ends.

The future’s unwritten, not unexpected

While purveyors of hindsight have been much in evidence of late, truly resetting the advertising industry is going to demand foresight. First and foremost that means rethinking which KPIs actually matter – not chasing KPIs at the expense of the user experience. After all, while some sectors have enjoyed huge success over lockdown, that won’t necessarily continue once consumers are free again. Free to go out. Free to shop around. Free to punish and reward brands for their behaviour in lockdown. So brands have to create an emotional connection with the customer - a sustainable feeling of ‘warmth’ towards your brand is set to be the big KPI of the foreseeable future. By way of example, Tesco is one of the big success stories of the last 10 months. Not only did Tesco deliver to people in the literal sense, their all-important Christmas Ad was a masterclass in ‘reading the room.’ The message that: “After this year, Tesco says there is no naughty list”, was pitch perfect. Especially in ad breaks where competitors were often tone deaf. Naturally, the creative team at BBH deserve a lot of the plaudits. But the fact is that Tesco, like any Big Four retailer, listens constantly to an established Insight Community: tracking consumer sentiment and playing it back to them. In late 2020, that message was: “We’re all fed up and we deserve some fun.” So, with hindsight, the tried and trusted ‘Make them cry to make them buy’ strategy was always going to be a busted flush at Christmas 2020. Tesco knew that and tweaked their strategy accordingly, but many advertisers didn't get the memo. It’s also worth noting that while Tesco, Morrisons and Asda deservedly made record profits in 2020, they’ve kept pretty quiet about it. After all, positive consumer sentiment would soon evaporate if the public came to suspect profiteering.

Foresight comes from insight

At the time of writing, uncertainty still hangs heavy in the air, albeit tinged with mild optimism about the pace of the vaccine roll-out. We don’t yet know what consumers have in mind for later this year. Will there be a spending frenzy of stockpiled lockdown cash? Will the explosion of digital sales channels begin to sputter? Will some people be too frightened to leave the house? These are all important questions for advertisers, as they frantically try to anticipate the ‘new normal.’ At STRAT7, we believe that it will be very much like the old normal: though subject to even more frequent mood swings in terms of consumer sentiment and behaviour. That’s why Insight Communities are now more important than ever. Advertisers need to know what consumers are thinking this week, not last month. You need the ability to test, learn, measure, refine and move on at greater pace than ever before. The elephant in the room is that right now you need to be a gazelle. Only by effecting this change can advertisers hope to develop and maintain a strategic plan that enables effective ads to be created. Moreover, only by constantly tracking customer sentiment - and using advanced behavioural analytics to deliver both relevant and personal messages - can advertisers really hope to 'RESET' for the better in 2021.

At RESET 2021, we showcased some of our latest thinking and research, including what makes Gen Z and Gen Alpha tick, how marketing personalisation drives rapid growth, and why an insight community is the perfect platform for optimising your advertising and communication activity. Take a look here...


Is the teen cultural experience in demise, and what does this mean for brands?



Use an insight community to fast track your customer-centric growth.



How deeper personalisation drives advertising, brand and communication ROI.



Learn more about this generation, defined by their own duality.


Get in touch with our team to discuss how you can reset for the year ahead.