At CES 2021, entrepreneurs will focus on pandemic-related traits – and what to anticipate subsequent

Despite the chaotic first impression of 2021, marketers from across the industry are still finding ways to be optimistic about the year ahead.

While the pandemic has turned countless plans and expectations upside down, there are other consumer trends that only accelerated in 2020. And at a moment when a dozen unprecedented events seem to come, it is as comforting as it is wise to identify points of continuity looking to the future.

At CES 2021 this week, marketers gathered virtually to discuss how some of the biggest trends in the pandemic have affected their marketing and advertising decisions, and what to expect will outlast the season of lockdowns and social distancing.

But for the most part, these trends were already apparent before the Covid-19 hit. To kick off a panel discussion with marketers from TikTok, Bank of America and Uber Eats, Harris Poll CEO John Gerzema spoke to Mastercard's Cheryl Guerin about the latest survey data the brands have collected on consumer behavior.

Touchless is here to stay

While fears of virus transmission have resulted in shoppers cleaning up everything for grocery store door handles, the ability to pay with contactless technology was already available. Still, it gained a lot of momentum as people changed their minds about touch points during the pandemic.

With 41% of global transactions using contactless technology, 74% of Americans plan to continue using contactless even after the pandemic ends, said Cheryl Guerin, marketing and communications for Mastercard in North America.

While this has made personal experiences largely impossible, marketers continue to find ways to connect with consumers in Covid-safe capacities. TikTok, of course, is one of the places marketers have worked to bridge that customer engagement void.

"Tiktok can be a place where [brands] might have a little fun, take a risk, face a challenge or the latest cultural trend, but it can also be a place where [brands] can participate in things that really matter to the world," he said Katie Riccio Puris, managing director of global business marketing for the platform.

An ongoing focus on health and wellness

The pre-pandemic health and wellness industry, valued at over $ 4 trillion – and its impact on consumer spending across various categories – was another area that came back into focus in one of the most stressful years in modern history was moved.

Looking ahead, Gerzema said, survey data suggests that consumers, especially the younger cohort, are demanding a greater focus on mental health in the wellness sector. "This younger generation is breaking the taboos about therapy and help and advice and that is very encouraging for all of us," he said.

However, the trend for improvement extends beyond the health and wellness industry. Circumstances have demanded that brands work for the well-being of their employees and partners even in difficult times. DyShaun Muhammad, Global Head of Brand Marketing at Uber Eats, highlighted how Uber and Uber Eats have shifted resources to support the well-being of employees, partners and merchants during the pandemic and economic downturn.

"We are actively engaged in discussions about the different ways we can support the way people move … but also in a safe way that will help our traders navigate this crisis," said Muhammad. The pandemic "has just brought this human element to the fore and you can't give it back," he said.

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