Four emerging trends for 2021

Any crisis comes with new opportunities. The current one is no exception. Let's look at four of them: mentoring, sustainability, metaverse, and mental wellbeing.

We all know that 2020 has thrown some big questions into the air. What is the future of capitalism? Can we embrace new and more sustainable ways of life? Are we going back to offices?

That means the coming years present huge opportunities to businesses of all kinds: to serve and support customers as they seek new and better ways to live, thrive, connect, and more.

Here are four emerging trends that present powerful opportunities to any business in 2021.

The Mentorship Economy

The pandemic has accelerated millions into a new reality of remote working.

But offices immersed workers in networks of knowledge, expertise, and mentorship. Now, millions of remote workers will look to new platforms, tools, and services to help them replace those networks.

Last year P2P dating app Bumble launched a new feature that allows users to find local career mentors, and now it’s just launched a new online mentorship service.

Meanwhile, in September Amazon ran a Career Day, which saw Amazon recruiters run 20,000 free one-on-one career coaching sessions with job seekers.

What kind of support will consumer expect from you? Can you create new platforms and services that help them tap into the Mentorship Economy?

Sustainability as a Service

When the pandemic began, we asked ourselves if this was the chance to reset old habits and find new and more sustainable ways of life.

Millions of consumers are seeking to minimise the damaging impacts of their consumption. But a decade and more of on-demand services such as Uber has also primed consumers to expect ultra-convenience. So in 2021, they’ll embrace services that make sustainable consumption easier and more convenient than ever.

Think services that make it easy for consumers to track and control their environmental impact.

Mastercard has partnered with fintech startup Doconomy to launch the DO Black, which provides information on the carbon impact of every purchase. Users can even set themselves a monthly carbon budget; once it is exceeded the card will decline further purchases.

Or take inspiration from Loop, the new circular economy grocery delivery service being launched by a partnership of food giants including Nestlé, Pepsi, and Unilever. Groceries are delivered in reusable containers, which are left outside for collection; the service comes to several European cities in 2021.

The Metaversal Self

Virtual and simulated worlds are becoming domains of meaningful human experience. This is the rise of the metaverse.

The pandemic has accelerated this trend. In April 12 million gamers gathered inside the massive online video game Fortnite to watch a concert by the US musician Travis Scott.

Meanwhile, during lockdown millions have sought social connection and friendship in the Nintendo video game Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

In 2021, expect millions more to pour into virtual and simulated worlds – that means video games, AR realities such as that created by Snapchat, and VR – to serve human needs such as creativity, connection, status, and more.

One glimpse of where all this is heading? Check out Horizon, the massive social VR world that Facebook is set to launch next year.

The Burnout

This year has been a stark reminder of the importance of mental wellbeing.

In 2021, consumers will look to brands and other organisations for new, more accessible forms of support when it comes to optimum mental health.

What kinds of support can you offer? What channels can you use to reach consumers?

Riot Games teamed up with Crisis Text Line to provide a free and confidential text-based hotline for gamers experiencing mental health crises.

The MS Teams remote work platform plans to integrate mindfulness app Headspace, to allow workers time to check in with themselves.

September 2020 saw Maybelline New York launch Brave Together, a campaign to destigmatize anxiety and depression and offer new kinds of support.

Over to you!

Remember, each of these trends represents an emerging shift in consumer expectations. And that means a powerful opportunity for you to serve customers in 2021.


David Mattin writes New World Same Humans, a weekly newsletter on trends, technology, and society.


Photo by Will Swann on Unsplash