Siren Says 2: Forecasting 2022 - Executive Team Edition

December 23, 2021

As the year draws to a close, now is a natural opportunity to reflect on the past 12 months and all that has happened.

 

Once again, it has been a period of rapid change, which is both nerve-wracking and exciting - bringing both risk and opportunity. But whether you see risk or opportunity amidst the turbulence is often simply a matter of perspective.

Uncertainty creates a more level playing field, and those with initiative have the opportunity to make a name for themselves and use this period as a platform from which to launch ahead of the pack as we emerge into a new world.

But simply because there is uncertainty does not mean that there are not lessons to be learned and insights to be gained as we look back on 2021. Trends have manifested themselves, and our team at Siren is among the best placed to identify those trends. Each of our teams are at the coal-face of their clients’ respective industries, with their finger on the pulse and eyes peeled for indications of what might be on its way in 2022.

As an agency, we naturally have areas of expertise that we take immense pride in, and are always seeking to consolidate. And though in 2022 we are looking to expand our areas of expertise at both the agency and individual level, our existing specialisms are here to stay.

So, as an early Christmas present, in this white (Christmas) paper, we’ll be sharing some front-line insights and predictions for those industries in which we specialise, straight from the mouths of our executive team, who have each done an amazing job for their clients this year in managing uncertainty and delivering outstanding results time and time again.

“But what’s the catch?” I hear you cry! Why would we give away these insights for free? Well, dear reader, t’is the season of giving, and we like to think we’re a pretty generous bunch over here at Siren. And let’s just say that we’re confident enough about our prospects for 2022 that we don’t mind sharing. There’s plenty to go around!

 

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Food & drink trends for 2022

Phoebe Van Den Bergh - Senior PR and Digital Content Executive:
“I think we’ll see wellness trends continue to go from strength to strength, and the younger audience will continue to embrace it. The low or no-alcohol sector will continue to grow with younger people becoming more aware of the negative effects of drinking and, in particular, the clear link between drinking and poor mental health.”

Stacey Stockwell - Senior Account Director & Head of Content:
“Personally, while eating out still feels like an occasional treat, we turned to Gousto this year to add some variety to our weekly dinners (as well as to reduce food waste). And despite the return of in-person celebrations and one impending new year’s resolution being to make more of the local restaurants that have opened during the pandemic, we’ll still stick to ordering our at-home meals through apps. Technology will continue to grow in food and drink, and not just with at-home ordering and deliveries/takeaways. As we’re seeing with Siren client, Ordamo, the opportunities for hospitality venues to improve their revenues, streamline their front of house staff (and tackle the on-going staffing crisis) and focus on impeccable customer service are multiplied exponentially when the right technology is employed. Adding a digital element to our real life experiences only makes them better!”

Naomi Atkins - Account Director:
“I’ve always been a fan of restaurants that have small menus, because it usually means the dishes are done well. It also means there’s less of a chance of food envy and I don’t waste too much time deciding on my options. Due to supply chain issues and the pandemic, we’ve seen a lot of restaurants paring down their menus, and it looks like this trend will continue into next year too. But I think that less choice equals better food.  Another trend that I anticipate is that as more people are look for an alternative to alcohol, we’ll see a larger, more enticing and inspiring range of mocktails. Bring on dry January!”

Dimitra Papoutsakis - Account Manager:
“Education, transparency, and industry support: three exciting words and terms that we anticipate will be driving change in the food and drink industry this coming year. Following the recent roll out of events, consumers will no longer simply accept information or rules at face value, but will demand transparency, explanation and education, and will want to be aware of the decision-making process as more active observers. And this will be reflected in the UK's £100 billion food and drink industry too. From discussions around veganism, vegetarianism and the opportunities and hopefulness around regenerative farming, brands will need to focus on sharing information and points of view that are based on research, facts and credible experience - offering an opportunity to create meaningful relationships based on trust. It is these relationships that will stand the test of time and deliver credibility and authority for the brands within their sectors.”

Tam Wilford - Senior Account Manager:
“Waitrose Trend Report recently coined a term for a new movement in food: climatarianism. It describes the trend of people who are beginning to incorporate more plant-based food into their diets, and who are ensuring that their food is locally sourced and ethically produced, all in an effort to lower their carbon footprint. In response to this trend, we are seeing more and more brands provide information regarding their products’ sustainability metrics, in order to allow customers to be aware of the impact of their purchasing behaviours on the environment and have peace of mind that they know that they’re doing their bit. This space is already saturating, so crafting stories for your brand that cuts through the noise and demonstrates a unique offering is imperative.”

Ollie Barrett - Junior PR and Digital Content Executive:
“Encouragingly, over the last few years, there has been a broader trend across many societies towards the adoption of healthier habits and lifestyles. People are increasingly beginning to realise that having a good quality of life is contingent upon having a good quality of health and wellbeing. This includes exercising, having a manageable work-life balance, and of course, eating well. Since 2000, the global purchase of organic food has increased by over 500%, which is a trend that shows no signs of stopping. With companies such as Hello Fresh and Riverford taking the initiative and providing almost 100% organic products in their bundles, people are beginning to purchase and demand more organic products when they’re at the supermarket, which I think will begin to influence the affordability of these products as well as creating a bigger market for organic-based restaurants and takeaways.”

Lola Carter - Junior PR and Digital Content Executive:
“2022 will be the year of plant-based everything. This year, the vegan market has seen growth like no other. Next year will reflect our post-pandemic desires and a growing sense of conscious consumerism, putting veg at the forefront of it all. Developments in food technology will drive and support the rapidly expanding plant-based food market and a growing global population.”

Travel and tourism trends for 2022

Stacey: “While many people seemed to manage to get a holiday in for 2021, there was still much uncertainty, and for some, getaways in 2022 will be their first in over two years. After that long break between memory-making trips, I think we’ll see people go big on holidays next year. It’s been noted in the ABTA Travel in 2022 report that reliance on experts and booking with travel agents is on the rise. With countries on and off red lists and everchanging regulations, this will only increase, along with ensuring that our much-needed breaks are ATOL protected as well as meticulously planned.”

Naomi: “Our ways of working have changed. Remote working is still the norm for many of us, and this will continue into 2022 and beyond. Next year, I think we’ll see the continuation of the ‘workation’, where people will bring the family on holiday for two weeks, vacationing for one and working for the other, while still being able to enjoy the destination with the family after working hours. There will be more of an emphasis on slower, longer journeys. Travellers are increasingly becoming aware of their carbon footprint. Instead of doing several trips per year, some will holiday less but for a longer period of time. This means they can be more sustainable, whilst having more time to immerse themselves in the lifestyle and culture of their holiday destination.”

Dimitra: “As the norms of travel habits were challenged over the last year, consumers have taken time to reflect on the ways in which they want to approach their future travel, and due to the concerns of global warming, the focus on sustainable travel has become a focal point of conversation. Many are considering travelling less frequently for longer durations in order to decrease the number of flights taken a year, whilst others are looking to maintain their regular trips by committing to a higher number of staycations, as well as researching carbon offsetting initiatives that contribute to green-led reforestation and renewable energy projects, in a bid to compensate for their travel.”

Tam: “Travel is often seen as the sector that is dragging its heels when it comes to climate change action. Aviation alone, for instance, accounts for 2.5% of all global emissions. This is unsurprising when considering that, according to the UK's Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), a single passenger travelling on a domestic flight in Britain can produce  254g of CO2 for every kilometre they travel. Looking forward, proof of investment in R&D and clear, public goals regarding zero emission or carbon neutral travel must be demonstrated by all players within the industry in order to remain attractive as investments and for them to avoid being penalised by increasingly numerous regulations. This is a great comms opportunity for the travel businesses who are shifting towards greener ways of working, or new startups that are shaking up the industry, as they have the chance to position themselves as leaders, innovators and pioneers during this crucial time.”

Ollie: “Given the ongoing risks regarding Covid, I think more people will look to travel off the beaten path and travel more off-season too. Bigger crowds are of course associated with greater transmission risk, so my guess is that people will be aiming for more remote, outdoor-based travel experiences, where they have more independence and a greater freedom to adventure. I think we’ll also be seeing interesting and innovative trends such as motorhome rentals become increasingly popular. People want to see more and do more, and anything that gives them greater independence and flexibility will be rapidly adopted.”

Lola: “In 2020 and 2021, we realised just how beautiful the UK really is. Having re-discovered local, 2022 will likely see travellers gathering with families across Britain to avoid the faff of going abroad. Broader travel recovery is on the horizon, and brands are competing to win returning customers but may not recognise that preferences have evolved. So, with all the testing and form-filling, travellers who wish to venture abroad will be looking for more handholding and reassurances – and beaches, lots of them!”

 

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Social media trends for 2022

Stacey: “Instagram continues to grow at an incredible rate. It’s predicted that it’ll have 1.2 billion active users by 2023. For telling brand stories, creating an engaged community, tapping into core audiences and even making direct sales, it remains the platform to focus on. TikTok continues to be the disrupter we can’t ignore. Other platforms are continuing to attempt to incorporate TikTok-like features in an effort to remain relevant, and as its audience base continues to broaden, for the right businesses it’s a no brainer to embrace. I predict a resurgence of Pinterest too. The platform has been working on a series of product developments and social campaigns of late, as well as acquiring video creation and editing app, Vochi. For marketers, there could be some very interesting developments that make us reconsider how we maximise a somewhat forgotten comms tool.”

Naomi: “The favourites like Instagram and Tik Tok will still lead the charge on social media channels for next year in terms of engagement, reaching a wide audience and providing immersive brand storytelling. However, it has been interesting to watch LinkedIn introduce LinkedIn Live. Although it is not available to everyone at the moment, we are seeing a lot of companies broadcast live content to their networks. This will only continue to grow and develop in 2022.”

Dimitra: “For brands looking to increase their reach, a combined strategy of paid and organic approaches will be critical in 2022. Organic social media output and engagement will continue to be essential, as it is still the most effective approach for engaging with a brand's community. When looking to expand outreach beyond that immediate circle of followers, paid-for social media campaigns and advertising should always be considered. Other paid-for activity includes paid partnerships with targeted brands and influencers or competitions, remarketing through strategically rolled-out advertising posts, and distributing sponsored offers and promotions to your target audience. The result? A seamless stream of engaging content that will delight existing followers, reach new consumers within your target audience and increase following and brand sales.”

Phoebe: “As the pandemic rumbles on, there will be continued reliance on digital platforms, and it will be vital for companies to demonstrate that they are following best practices in areas such as sustainability, as well as staff welfare and diversity, particularly in light of staff shortages and scandals involving popular brands and household names.”

Ollie: “Companies want to seem more human, and less like large, faceless entities. Because of this, I think there’ll be a move towards person-centred stories and content on social - whether it’s stories about customers, business-owners or employees. Businesses want to be seen as having a heart, and this will require them to put people front and centre of what they do, showing who makes up their business and who their business serves.”

Lola: “Short, snappy video content will continue to take over the digital space. Media with personality and flair has dominated 2021 and is expected to drive the market into 2022. Next year is the year for brands to be bold rule-breakers who shake up the status quo.”

 

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Comms trends for 2022

Naomi: “I think we’ll see a lot more of a collaborative effort in comms next year. Already we’re seeing more PR companies pitching together but offering different areas of expertise to the client. This is slowly happening and will continue to grow even more in 2022. We’ll be teaming up with PR and digital marketing agencies to offer clients a winning marketing collaborative mix.”

Dimitra: “While uncertainty remains regarding upcoming rules and regulations, one thing we are all sure of is that everyone is seeking hope and positivity. Community-led experiences, brands championing positive change within their sectors, companies and figureheads providing transparency and welcoming input from their consumers are just some ways in which we anticipate the comms sphere being driven. Hopefulness and positivity will reign in 2022.”

Tam: “I remember writing out predictions in 2020 for what comms would look like in 2021, and how that all slipped away. So the main thing to note is that people are now well-versed at being flexible and adjusting their plans. Open/closed, masks on/masks off, red list/no list; we have become more durable and resilient than ever. People aren’t afraid of change anymore, they just want to be informed and for change to occur transparently and to understand why it is happening. This is key for comms professionals to understand in 2022.”

Ollie: “Clearly, the issue of the day (and the foreseeable future) is sustainability. Every business will be trying to demonstrate that they’re taking effective action to reduce their emissions and their overall impact on the environment, and rightly so. And although there may be a lot of somewhat nauseating virtue signalling, if it leads to meaningful changes at a national level, then that’s a price worth paying.”

Lola: “Internal comms will become perhaps more important than external comms. After the so-called 'Great Resignation' of 2021, businesses will need to place a permanent focus on employee wellbeing and continue to both state, and act on, their company values. Globally, we are all now more connected than ever, meaning corporate transparency will be inevitable. Next year, driving meaningful human connections will be key – and lining up your internal and external comms is essential. Externally, brands may wish to invest more into expert voices for authenticity in a market that's much more aware of mental health and wellbeing.”

Conclusion

So there you have it. We’ve revealed to you the secrets and predictions that we have divined from our patented Siren crystal ball, so it’s up to you what you do with it. But remember, as Father Christmas once said; with great power comes great responsibility. Be sure to use this new-found knowledge for good, like helping your business, clients and employees to succeed in 2022. That’s certainly a New Year’s resolution that we can get behind and one that we’ll be holding ourselves to next year.

But, despite all the uncertainty brought about by geopolitics, globalisation and the pandemic, will 2022 be meaningfully different to any year previous? Probably not.

We’ve lived through uncertainty before, we’ve lived through recessions, and we’ve lived through times of great change. But the future is always exciting, because it’s the land of possibility.

2022 is a blank canvas, and the calendar, with its 12 months, 52 weeks and 365 days, is a map uncharted, of new worlds waiting to be discovered. Who among us will be the bold and the brave to take our lessons from 2021 and use them as a compass to chart our course into a better and more ambitious tomorrow? And despite what our name suggests, we here at Siren are pretty adept at guiding enterprises away from rocky terrain and setting them in the right direction. So if you or anyone you know is looking for an agency that can help you to navigate a complicated and mercurial media, consumer and regulatory landscape, then you know where to find us.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from us all.

We’ll see you in 2022!