6 Predictions for Retail and Community in 2021

Posted by Quentin Lebeau on January 27, 2021 Quentin Lebeau

It's an understatement to say the world looked very different when I made last year's list. 

If I was expecting an overall acceleration of community projects, I thought historical brands would likely have delayed adoption. Then, the pandemic struck and the industry turned upside down. Brands lost direct access to customers and we started shopping online more than ever before.

The result? A rush to community as advocacy and loyalty became a priority to many.

After an unpredictable year, here’s what I think 2021 holds for us:

TokyWoky's key trends and predictions for retail and brand communities in 2021


1. A shift from social media to branded communities

  • Last year I predicted an acceleration of brand-owned communities and, in 2020, we saw a 166% growth on community platforms just at TokyWoky. We expect this to double in 2021.
  • This trend will only accelerate with several industry leaders launching their branded community in the next 6 months.


2. Community and loyalty projects will converge

  • 80% of the new communities we’re working on are either integrating or replacing loyalty programs.
  • This makes sense as loyalty can't be transactional only. It's key to reward contributions beyond purchase and build an emotional connection with customers to grow faster and increase LTV.

Read more: Next-Gen Loyalty for Retail: Community, Surprise and Delight, Personalization.


3. A focus on micro-communities and top content creators

  • Easier to run and manage, micro-communities focus on identifying your 1% top contributors and giving them the tools to create value through UGC, social promotion, feedback and more.
  • Great examples here are Glossier, Outdoor Voices and Rebecca Minkoff.


4. A bigger role for store employees in communities

  • Unlike what I’d predicted last year - for obvious reasons - instore experiences didn’t play the crucial role they could have played as retailers build localized communities.
  • That said, many brands innovated by leveraging store employees to engage with customers online (live chats or consultations, events, social takeovers...). Considering how well these experiences worked, I expect we'll see a lot more of this in the future.


5. Community UGC will be king on online stores

  • Producing UGC at scale is key to the success of China's social commerce giants. After 2020, the rest of the world is rushing to do the same thing. Reviews, visual UGC, video testimonials are crucial to inspire trust and convert online.
  • At TokyWoky this translated into enabling our clients to push community UGC on product pages: community looks, reviews and video testimonials, customer Q&A and more. 
  • Every AB Test we've launched in 2020 has shown that quality UGC has direct impact on online revenue.

Trend for brands and community in 2021: community UGC on online stores and product pagesTrend for brands and community in 2021: community UGC on online stores and product pages


6. The rise of green and eco-friendly communities

  • Brand-owned reselling, upcycling and sharing platforms are on the rise. On several of our communities, brands are rewarding users for eco-conscious behaviour.
  • Customers are increasingly demanding retailers and brands address the fashion industry's environmental impact. It makes sense this will translate into the community vision.


As always, thank you for reading these. Feel like I missed anything or want to talk about it? Let me know at quentin@tokywoky.com


Topics: Community building Brand community

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