Consumption habits, digitisation are likely to continue in 2021

By Lorna White


London, United Kingdom


This was a year like no other. The impact of COVID-19 will be seen across economies, society, and industries for years to come.

We’re all looking forward to a future post-pandemic, but at this time of year, it’s useful to look at the impact of media throughout 2020 and contemplate what we can expect to stick around in the new year.

Increased consumption

With UK national and local lockdowns introduced throughout 2020, we saw consumption across in-home and digital media increase. Audiences across linear TV and video-on-demand (VOD) grew significantly. Audiences were highly engaged across print and online in trusted, brand-safe environments. Audio saw double-digit growth reach.

Conversely, hours across weekday and weekend listening, and cinema and out-of-home (OOH)/outdoor were badly affected as consumption was limited by the rules and regulations.

Restrictions were lifted in the summer, and although we saw recovery in channels like OOH, we also saw in-home media continue to deliver strong numbers. A culture of more people working from home is likely, and brands need to consider how they can capitalise on this increased consumption.

Digital acceleration

With limited physical and face-to-face contact, digital acceleration across all media has massively sped up, with consumers across all ages and demographics looking for social connections.

In digital channels, we saw the greatest growth in news and information sites, social media platforms, and retail Web sites. Linear TV saw increased consumption, but digitisation of viewing also increased significantly with subscription VOD (SVOD), in particular, seeing huge growth. Its clear consumers are keen for content, with BARB reporting a 28% increase in SVOD services during the third quarter of 2020.

Subscription video-on-demand has increased steadily throughout 2020.
Subscription video-on-demand has increased steadily throughout 2020.

Virtual events and video calls have become part of daily life. The number of adults making video calls in the United Kingdom has doubled this year: Seven in 10 people are now making such a call at least weekly. There is a particular uptake among those who are older than 50: 75% now use video calls more often. Brands need to think about how consumption is more digitised and consider how they can adapt their channel mix.

With 2020 almost behind us, brands need to think about how these market trends are likely to continue, with data and audience targeting being paramount in all media campaign planning. Both increased consumption and more digitised lives are set to continue, and advertising opportunities are becoming more diverse.

How can your brand stand out and increase trust with consumers from 2021 and beyond?

About Lorna White

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