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Sep 28, 2020    Burn Book

2020 Is Nothing But a Long, Long January


I don’t know about you, but I’m kind of tired of hearing about Peloton bikes and workout mirrors. It’s really no surprise, even in an unprecedented pandemic, that these types of brands would be doing fine, or even better than they were in the year prior. People are at home more, have gained commuting time to spend on other things, and are branching out of their normal routines out of necessity for their wellbeing — mental, physical, and otherwise.

So I’m not going to put a spotlight on any of those startups, even though they’re listed in Forbes and LinkedIn as up and coming [even in 2020-redacted]. I think that’s a pretty low bar to set. No, I want to shine a spotlight on the fact that this pandemic, in practice, is not really all that different from New Year’s.

Hear me out.

New Year’s resolutions are rarely followed through. Sure, it can be a great time to set new goals, and influencers everywhere share how their amazing life is going to get even more amazing if they commit to this and follow through on that and you should DEFINITELY follow them on their journey (that will mysteriously stop being posted about by April and no one will notice).

2020 has brought on a slew of people being forced into change, and as I mentioned in the beginning, this has proven profitable for “revolutionary” at-home workout equipment and other brands in similar veins (at-home yoga instructors, experts on Skillshare), and of course, food and alcohol delivery services.

Side note: we’re not so pessimistic all the time– we wrote here about how great it is people are rediscovering the joy of being outside and doing socially-distant activities and the then-booming businesses they flock to.

Now, don’t get us wrong, it would be great to see this jump in consumers branching out their lifestyles and focusing on wellbeing– we think the world really needs that. We just don’t think it’ll last, in the same way New Year’s Resolutions don’t last.

Catalysts matter, even when no one wants to pay attention to anything but the results.

This spike in people doing just that, branching out and building new habits to stay healthy, was catalyzed by a forceful, against-will period in time consisting of shelter in place and stay at home orders. People did not choose to alter their lives in the ways that benefit some 2020 startups. And people that didn’t have full control over the choice to begin with, are the ones that inevitably fall off the wagon.

Basically, we know some of this change will remain: Zoom is doing well and probably has competitors huddled down coming up with something better, feeding off tweeted critiques of what every corp is using. Food and alcohol delivery is always going to be wanted, and the recent spike in business for them is just a bonus. But the hobby-picking-up? The at-home fitness? The Skillshare classes and at-home business ideas and newfound love for gardening and baking bread and subscription services? We predict that even with their high 2020 numbers, their end-all numbers of remaining customers in 2021 will be pretty equal to those of 2019.

Playing for Keeps

2020 will be the year of picking up and dropping off new consumers. As people are desperate to do new things and solve new problems, of course some unicorns will ride high and on for eternity after 2020 and 2021. But those brands experiencing a high because consumers were forced into their play, are playing a zero-sum game.

So ultimately what we want to see, not anything more about Peloton or record-breaking onboarding numbers for those brands profiting in 2020, is one category of future businesses: those that focus on long-term wellbeing and skill-learning (apps that help slowly build better mental health habits, courses on joyful movement and mindful eating as opposed to detox teas and expensive indoor cycling bikes, etc.) who are prepared to catch the people of 2020 as they inevitably fall off their March and April goals.

Anyways, call us pessimistic. Or, like Forbes and Clutch and others do, call us industry experts as one of the top advertising agencies in Austin, TX, the U.S., and the world. No amount of forced-in environmental changes (except maybe, like, whole apocalypses) can keep a brand thriving for long after those environmental changes are removed. That’s basic if-then logic.

That is, of course, unless they’ve carefully planned for it and work it into their long-term brand marketing strategy, their content syndication, heck, even their product naming. That’s how brands get on top and, more importantly, stay there.

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