No doubt about it—2020 has forced momentous changes upon our world. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in rapid and massive shifts in the way we work, live healthy lives, apply technology and manage our finances, which affects our lifestyles. By some estimates, technology has seen about five to ten years of accelerated impact in as little as three months.
I think we can agree; some changes have been for the better, and others, perhaps not yet to be seen or not so much. But for the most part, we’ve been adaptable. Resilient. Willing to try new things. And often missing the personal interactions of associates, friends and family.
As this year ends, it’s a good time to look ahead. Here’s my take of what we will see in 2021.
First, we at SA know quite a lot about the home environment. This year it has become more than just a place to rest, relax and enjoy family. It’s become our office. Kids’ classroom. Our favorite place to shop from, and our technology center. Our world seems smaller and our thoughts related to home improvements have changed, too.
- Home is where we experience primary quality of life. Many are now assessing whether there’s a paint project, a new carpet or kitchen remodeling project in their near futures. Home has earned a first-place status as an investment.
- In the year ahead look for greater growth of connected devices that allow us to remotely complete more actions in our homes – perhaps monitor and change lighting, address security or manage temperature settings. Consider environmental aspects of these, too. Our home assessment needs to account for these important changes.
- Indoor air quality = wellness. Like the airplane industry, home sensors and filters are now expected to deal with everything from dust, humidity and air particles and for the future, even more. Fresh air and purification are top of mind for future product development. And in that regard, Lennox is especially well-positioned. Their “Air is life!” positioning is so appropriate as home wellness is paramount to families. Innovations now available to consumers include ultraviolet light, ionization and advanced filtering, along with certifications for homes equipped with these.
- Now, quality of life also means better health for us and our families. A recent study suggested we will have gained more years of better health in our productive years. Major advancements are rapidly being made in the changing landscape of health care. We’ll need to better understand what that means.
- Helping people be healthier also brings new treatment options in pharma. SA’s involvement with Bristol Myers Squibb’s Optivo and Yervoy launch for cancer treatment without chemo offers the promise of more life, as in years and moments.
- Telehealth has emerged as a new necessity in the COVID era. Doctor on Demand, another new SA client, offers 24/7 connection with a physician without entering a clinic or hospital. Convenience takes on new meaning.
- Good health also means good mental health, now more important than ever as we all deal with shutdowns and quarantines. Data reveals anxiety and its impact on individuals and families must be seen and addressed.
- As always, financial considerations are in play.
- Just about everything converged in 2020 and impacted our livelihoods in terms of finances and our lives. As it turned out, we ate out less, went to fewer attractions and generally saved more than in a normal year. Some were able to invest with more purpose toward causes important to our communities like Food Bank of Iowa. SA supports many of these and we saw their missions address increased needs with increased generosity.
- And we saw education affected for our children. K-12 schools and colleges weren’t always able to bring students to campus adapted to online and virtual learning. Concerns exist for this ‘gap’ year. And lifelong learning in terms of educational certifications and upgrades has also seen upticks in interest and involvement.
- Tracking the data.
- Digital transformation has certainly become a new aspect of normal. Data is now informing more decisions, especially the customer journey. We see it in how marketing decisions are now being analyzed and implemented.
- As traditional retail store traffic declines, ecommerce, digital and web search as primary business drivers is now more important. This will be augmented by AI and automation, like our SA Hub (Metis platform), will accelerate efficiencies and change.
- Innovative, secure, accessible and integrated technology will speed new innovations as government regulations also make an impact, especially for large tech companies.
- And, with state and federal regulation, data privacy is front burner for nearly all marketers.
With all these changes and more, what does it mean? Where is this going? The “next normal” is here. It’s the “beginning of a new era” that will require all of us to be better at balancing life and lifestyles. Communicating better, working together and caring more for each other. Perhaps the most important change of all.