A view to 2021, by Horizon Holdings’ Mazen Jawad

By Mazen Jawad, president Horizon Holdings (Horizon FCB MENA, BPN MENA, GolinMENA, Blue Barracuda and FuelContent).

Following a year that transformed our lives, our cities and the world we live in, people expect more than meeting financial targets from their companies. They want to work for companies that care about them, their wellbeing, their society, their environment and the world we live in. We all have a duty to start 2021 with a new mindset, one that cares about the world that we reside. We’ve already seen many brands riding this wave including our agency when it worked, hand in hand, with Fine Hygienic to raise awareness about the harms of disposable masks to the environment last April… work that was quickly picked up and adapted to many countries across the planet.

Within a few months in 2020, e-commerce leapt more than a decade forward. This trend is expected to persist even if people are going back to shop traditionally. Yes, we do love the shopping experience, our entertaining shopping malls, our breathtaking shopping street and our dear neighbourhood store… Nevertheless, having an e-commerce strategy in place, a Google listing and a revamped website are key to maintain a healthy future… and remember to create this unique and memorable experience on the website as well.

We were all born storytellers and hence exciting storytelling is here to stay. Stories help create an emotion, a connection, awareness and hence build brand value but not necessarily drive purchase. While meaningful captivating content will remain key to keep our audiences aware and engaged, we still need to create customized advertising that targets actions and therefore can activate our clients’ business… whether it’s lead generation or immediate purchase. Keep in mind that customer service and customer reviews are also key to drive a positive reputation, all based on EAT evaluation (Expertise, Authority and Trust). We need to make sure as well that customers are informed that they can contact us through the various social media platforms.  This is a process that demands constant customer relationship management, measuring and optimization.

Video content will remain significant and the leading content format whether it’s produced or the continuously booming live video. Video is the fastest, most engaging format to engage, educate and drive action from our audience… and we’re seeing a shift from generic videos to personalized ones. We constantly see positive ROI for video marketing through our clients’ relationships, especially through platforms such as TikTok with easy-to-produce, watch and share short-format videos. A great example would be the Clorox TikTok workout challenge.

Loyalty programs that are personalized and that reward customers based on engagement rather than solely on purchase transactions will add value, bring customers back and bring new ones in. There is a significant population that feels that it deserves rewards based on its engagement with its favourite brands rather than only for monetary transactions. And many feel that games should be included in those loyalty programs. Gamers are more active on social media, have a large following and can share more valuable and relevant content. We recently had a successful experience with Visa and a couple of their partners Emirates NBD and U By Emaar: the gamification of the credit card acquisitions.

Living in a world that wakes up and goes to sleep every day behind a screen (especially mobile), even more following the Covid-19 reality, technology and specifically innovative and creative technology will help us reach the more relevant customers, engage faster and drive them to promote our brand and buy our product. Keep an eye on the increasing use of voice search and voice commands in living trends.

Never finished, we’ll keep working on unleashing creativity fueled by technology and data.