Recapping Marketing Changes in 2020: More Focus on Causes, Empathy, and Personalization


A global pandemic, political unrest, and murder hornets were just a few things that dominated the news cycle in 2020. That being said, the craziness that occurred last year helped accelerate innovation across the marketing landscape like we’ve never seen before. So, let’s take a quick look at the biggest happenings of the year.

1. The Rise of Cause Marketing

The deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor sparked national outrage that could not be ignored. Brands worldwide had to ask themselves, “should we get involved, and if so, how do we do it with authenticity?” Well, they must have looked at the data, because around 70 percent of consumers want brands to take a stand on social and political issues—that’s a 66 percent increase from a 2017 survey. We saw brands like Ben and Jerry’s, Nike, Netflix, and Peloton use their platform to amplify the causes so many around the world protested for. And it looks like cause marketing won’t be going anywhere soon, as the data shows that consumers are more likely to purchase from companies that take a stand on causes that align with their values, and more importantly, companies that have power to make a difference.  

2. The Proliferation of Virtual Events

What do you do when the vast majority of the world can no longer afford to take a trip to your yearly conference? Bring it online! With the pandemic in full force, several brands moved their event to the net. In fact, the number of organizations planning a virtual event doubled. And it’s worth noting that 84 percent of organizations that did run an online event reported that they spent less money on virtual events than in-person. But wait, there’s more. The change from in-person to online yielded some interesting innovations, including 3D meeting places where participants can wear VR goggles to interact, and virtual worlds where users can create an avatar and navigate their way through online sessions—oh, and did I mention the platform Virbela even has a dance floor

3. Working From Home: The New Normal

Due to the virus, millions (62 percent this year compared to just 5 percent in 2019) of people who were used to commuting and sharing an office space with others have moved to remote work. According to Gartner, 88 percent of organizations, worldwide, have made it mandatory or encouraged their employees to work from home after COVID-19 was declared a pandemic. It quickly become the new normal. We also saw the rise of telecommuting apps like Zoom, whose user base rose from 10 million to 300 million in 2020. 

4. Transparency + Empathy Become King

While authenticity is certainly important, many brands took their messaging a step further. These organizations started to tap into how their audiences were feeling, and applied it to their messaging. After all, what you communicate to your audience should not be about you—it should be about them. Here’s a great example of that

5. Personalization on the Rise

We live in a time where more data is available than ever before, which makes targeting specific audiences easier. Not only does it make it simpler, but it also gives brands the power to serve only the most relevant and hyper-personalized content. If you need more convincing, here are six reasons why you should personalize marketing. In 2020, we saw brands bust out the big guns and take this targeted advertising to the next level. 


2020 accelerated innovation, taught brands what consumers really want, allowed organizations to humanize their brands, and so much more than we could ever fit into one blog. What happened last year that you think is worth mentioning? If there’s anything you need assistance with that relates to the topics above, reach out and let’s chat! Here’s to a safer, “more normal” 365 days. Happy New Year!