[Case Study] L’Oréal

Learn how L’Oréal improved their market share by equipping themselves
with deep consumer insights from Brandwatch Consumer Research

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The Marketer of 2021

What skills will marketers need to hone to thrive in 2021? Learn how 100 industry professionals from organizations like Monster, Publicis, and Amnesty are adapting as we head into the new year

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REPORTThe Marketer of 2021

Last year when we looked ahead to 2020, we talked naively about preparing for things that couldn’t be predicted. Little did we know just how unpredictable a time we would have.

In this guide, we’ll take you through how marketers can adjust their mindsets and invest in the right skills and tech to prepare them to do their best work in 2021.

We’ll draw on input from over 100 industry professionals who were kind enough to share their thoughts on the upcoming year.


We’ll start by looking at the challenges that must be faced in getting to know customers and target consumers in 2021.

Not having the right data is a major issue for 58% of our respondents.

The second most popular option was not having the right technology to help, while the third was not having an understanding of what kinds of research could be helpful.

Meanwhile, not having the right skills was the least popular of the options we offered as an obstacle. This is promising, especially as marketers become more data-savvy. Thinking about skills needed to thrive in 2021, Charlotte Knowles, Head of Marketing at Berryworld wrote: “Strong analytics skills coupled with ability to ask the right questions first and understand our business objectives to ensure our insights help us achieve our goals.”

Our survey showed that more data is needed. But blending data can create new challenges.

A theme that cropped up in custom replies to this question about obstacles was the ability to bring together different data sources to stitch together a narrative. For example, in answer to the question, Eva Taylor, Director of Social, Operations & CSR at Hootsuite, wrote: “Uniting disparate sources of data to help convey the bigger picture.”

The blending of different data sources presents both an exciting opportunity and a challenge for marketers as we head into 2021.

Time is also an issue for stretched teams who would like to leverage the tech and data that’s available.

Mae Johnson, Marketing Manager at Big Frog Franchise Group describes the struggles of working in a small marketing team in a busy period: “As in any small team, the current challenge is in juggling the time, manpower, and resources to dive deep into data analysis to understand consumer behaviors as well as fully leverage existing technology to automate processes and build upon effective marketing strategies.”

In 2021, leveraging that technology to automate time-consuming processes and working on speed to insight will be vital for small teams looking to make a big impact.


We asked our respondents what tools and resources would be most valuable in supporting the generation and sharing of consumer insights in 2021.

Social data analysis tools came out on top with 81% of respondents choosing this option. Data visualization tools and search data analysis tools were also very popular, with 75% and 73% of respondents selecting them respectively.

We were surprised to see that traditional consumer research methods were only selected by 31% of our respondents.

One possible explanation for this is that 2020 has made some forms of traditional research (eg in-person ethnographic research or in-person focus groups) much harder, and sometimes impossible, to carry out. Now’s a great time to try out digital consumer intelligence solutions for gathering insights of this kind.

Next, we’ll dive into themes that came from our open-ended questions to find out what respondents had to say about digital consumer intelligence and their thoughts on 2021.

Human understanding

The word ‘human’ popped up a lot in our survey responses, but in several different contexts.

Firstly, there is the need for brands to humanize themselves.

“Hypersegmentation will definitely be a must in order to develop engaging content and be relevant in an oversaturated world. This will force brands to humanize themselves and become a friend or a partner, rather than a salesman.”
— Ivan Rio, Chief Marketing Officer at Urilingo

Secondly, our respondents talked about human needs. Understanding human behaviour, what they want, what they love, what they hate, or what they rely on, became even more vital in 2020 when nothing could really be taken as granted. Who could have predicted ahead of 2020 that demand for pasta and toilet paper would rise so rapidly?

“I believe that human behavior will be at the center of 2021,” says David Ionut, Social Intelligence Analyst at Harte Hanks, reflecting on the changes seen in 2020.

Thirdly, it was about human connection, whether through adding value or creating really engaging experiences.

“For us, 2021 will be all about how do we add value to humanity through what we do - at every touchpoint”
— Rachael Zahn, VP, Marketing & Sales Optimization, Investis Digital

Asked about the trends we’re likely to see in 2021, Daisy Morris, Founder of The Selfhood wrote: “A stronger focus on personalization and humanization of digital tools and channels. More content that focuses on the unique consumer with a sentimental feel. Convenience will continue to thrive.” Meanwhile, Laura Jones, Founder at Uniquity wrote “Digitizing and humanizing the whole brand experience.”

Of course, all three of these things are connected. They all speak to the importance of recognizing the vulnerability of the human condition and the need for brands to connect at a human level. That might sound obvious, but it’s something that can be forgotten when communicating with hundreds, thousands, or even millions of customers at once.

None of this is new . Personalization has been around for a long time and brands have long sought to create closer relationships with their consumers. That said, there is plenty left to do in this field, and it looks like the challenges of 2021 (just like those in 2020) will be catalysts for more change.

What they need, when they need it


Another theme we found our respondents talking about was timing. For marketers, it’s about meeting consumers where they are at just the right time when a brand’s input is needed or appreciated.

When thinking about 2021, Jose Sanchez, Listening Lead at Publicis Media, wrote about being “as close as possible to the consumer, respecting their physical space and privacy, but to be present at the moment they require it in order to help them meet their needs.”

This is echoed in our DCI in Practice guide on Trend Spotting which discusses the importance of timing insights to make them as actionable as possible. An example of doing this well is delivering insights at a cadence that fits with regular meetings of key stakeholders so that decisions can be made quickly based on the data.

Timing is also key when things are moving quickly. That relates to reacting in real time to opportunities, bringing agility into the heart of all operations, and, where possible, using predictive trend spotting to proactively prepare for what’s ahead.

Consumer-centric content

Many of our respondents talked about the need for consumer-centric content. This doesn’t necessarily mean bespoke content for each consumer. Instead, it’s about recognizing segments of your audience that might have different needs or preferences to others.

Looking ahead to 2021, Jennifer Chan, Digital Content Manager at Amnesty, wrote: “Ideally, knowledge of audience should direct our content creation and distribution.”

Ivan Rio, Chief Marketing Officer at Urilingo, acknowledges the challenges which come with segmenting by generation or age: “Developing intergenerational content that connects with each consumer in a personal way is definitely the challenge of the century as the border between generations is getting blurrier and blurrier.”

Meanwhile, Immediate Future CEO Katy Howell noted that a challenge is to get brands to think about consumers in a multi-dimensional way: “Convincing brands that they need to move beyond tracking their own brand and actually listen to all their consumers – beyond just demographics and two dimensional personas.”

All this is to say that knowing what your consumers want and delivering the right experience at the right time in a way that works for the individual is what marketers must be working towards.

Working cross-functionally

Insights of this kind aren’t just useful to marketing teams. In 2021, if businesses are to truly innovate, writes Eva Taylor, silos must be broken down.

“In order to better react, predict and innovate in 2021, mastering and operationalizing digital consumer intelligence will require a cross-functional effort across marketing, sales, customer success, and data teams.”
— Eva Taylor, Director of Social, Operations & CSR at Hootsuite

Sharing consumer insights across the business is a no brainer.

  • Customer experiences can become smoother and more consistent when customer success managers and marketers work together.
  • Product teams can work on high-priority fixes and iterations by working with marketers to find out what’s driving negative reviews.
  • Design teams can create more engaging assets when marketers share data on what’s worked well.

2021, here we come

To summarize, there is (surprise, surprise) a lot to think about as we head into the new year.

  • Data, skills, and tools: Without each of these, the insights that will drive success simply won’t be found. Invest in data-savvy marketers and check for blind spots when it comes to tools and data sources that could help your team thrive.
  • Being human: Human connection and humanizing brands was a big theme in our data. As brand experiences become digital-first, make sure they’re warm and welcoming as well as convenient and direct.
  • Right place, right time, right message: Where insights are generated, make sure they’re actioned quickly. With communications, ensure that you’re thinking about individuals. Sending the right message at the wrong time or to the wrong person is a waste of time and resource.
  • Connecting across the business: Enable insights to flow across teams and encourage collaboration where it may never have existed before. Connected companies will create stronger experiences for customers and prospects.

Many marketers are relying on digital consumer intelligence solutions to supercharge their efforts.

“Digital consumer intelligence means understanding the complete customer, beyond their behavior on your site or social channels. It's ensuring your inputs are as diverse and varied as each potential customer is and finding the threads of insights that tie commonalities together to form a truly informed strategy.”
— Stacey Furtado, Director of Internal & Digital Communications at Monster

Crimson Hexagon has merged with Brandwatch. You’re in the right place!

From May 8th, all Crimson Hexagon products are now on the Brandwatch website. You’ll find them under ‘Products’ in the navigation. If you’re an existing customer and you want to know more, your account manager will be happy to help.