With 2020 finally behind us, it's time to take a look at the year ahead for emerging trends we can expect to see in 2021. As slow as 2020 may have felt at times, it was a year in which many marketing and e-commerce experts say accelerated our lives by a decade. Online shopping hit record levels, we saw a drastic shift to online learning in response to COVID-19, food delivery increased by an estimated 103%, and work from home has become more acceptable in our culture. With optimism surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine, many are hopeful we can get back to some sense of "normal" this year. Nevertheless, we can expect many of the emerging trends from 2020 to alter our future forever.
Prediction 1: Big Tech Will Get More Involved In Higher Education
Prior to the pandemic, Google announced that an undergraduate degree will no longer be a requirement for prospective employees. With seemingly countless college students spending their 2020-2021 school year in their parent's living room rather than on campus, it's time for a shake up in higher education. College costs have skyrocketed in recent decades with many curriculums not changing fast enough to keep up with emerging technologies and best practices in the business world. With their kids taking classes online at the kitchen counter, it's only natural for mom and dad to second guess the thousands of dollars they are paying for their children to go to college. Furthermore, the cost of college has grown to be far too costly for many to afford, putting millennials and younger generations under heavy debt burden as they enter the business world.
In response, expect Big Tech to evolve as a leader in online learning moving forward. Many universities started to shift to shorter online certifications prior to the pandemic- a way for additional revenue to come in without having to offer room and board alongside less of a commitment from those taking online classes at their own pace. As Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, and the like have grown to be the cool places to work, expect them to take a stronger stance in education and for universities to struggle to show their value. With such strong brand recognition already, Big Tech has a great leg up on other companies in that they can attract top talent, educate, and essentially train future employees by getting more involved with online learning rather than waiting to train them once they graduate from college.
Prediction 2: Big Tech Gets Broken Up
With anti-trust hearings heating up over the past few years, we can expect things to change in the world of Big Tech. Apple, Google, Amazon, Twitter, and Facebook have all been called out on their anti-competitive business practices, which we can expect to continue this year. It is likely that we will see a spin off of one of these companies that will force a shake up for Big Tech.
Prediction 3: Subscription Models Will Continue To Rise
With people spending more time at home last year, 2020 could also be considered the year of subscription television packages. An industry once dominated by Netflix is now a great example of the tragedy of the commons, where there are almost too many choices to choose from. Disney Plus, Apple+, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Peacock, and seemingly countless others have turned what was once an affordable alternative to channel television into just another library of endless choices to flip through. Nevertheless, the model seems to work and because it works we can expect the subscription-style approach to be applied to other industries in 2021- airlines, at-home fitness, hospitality, online learning, and more.
As COVID-19 has kept us at home, businesses of all kinds have been forced to change their business model. Even Panera Bread now offers a monthly subscription package that gets you free coffee at any location. With the travel and hospitality industries taking a disastrous hit, they'll need to find ways to ensure consistent revenue as business and vacation travel will be slow to return- the former of which may have changed forever. With at-home fitness going through the roof through the pandemic, Peloton, Mirror, and other subscription models will continue to grow as well as people try to avoid their neighborhood gyms. Expect to see more options from your favorite brands this year where you can pay a low monthly subscription price for insider perks and access to their products.
Prediction 4: Life at Home Will Continue To Get More Important.
A place where we used to mainly eat and sleep has become a place of learning, work, fitness, leisure, meals, and entertainment. Many are no longer commuting to a physical office, we are working out at home, teaching our kids through online learning at the kitchen table, and watching Box Office releases in the comfort of our own living rooms. Expect 2021 to continue to display signs of investment in the quality of life at home as we are spending more time at home now than ever. Quality furniture, at-home offices, lush landscaping, at-home gyms, etc. will continue to become more important in 2021. At home projects will no longer take a backseat, but will now be a priority. The features and amenities within our individual homes and apartments will continue to become a more central part of our lives.