These 5 Top Trends Will Impact Your Business in 2021


In the last 10 months, the world  has been facing a new reality.

Technology is advancing rapidly, and many non digital businesses are stuck in an archaic mindset that no longer connects with what society and the world needs in order to move forward.

As we prepare to kick off Circklo’s business configurator in March 2021, we commissioned our analysts to discover the top 5 trends that are highly impacting businesses in 2021.  

  1. Corporate Greenwashing reveals a profound problem in society

Many brands recognise that customers are calling for better corporate standards.

Moreover, many customers – especially the younger generation - want to shop with brands that show commitment to tackling environmental issues.

However, the profitability conundrum for many brands is the fact that consumers do not seem to expect non sustainable products to be more expensive than sustainable products and continue to give the wrong signals to the industry.

What is very interesting is that, according to an Accenture survey, more than half of the customers surveyed said they would be willing to pay more for sustainable goods that have circularity (ie circular economy principles) built into their design. 

But, why are sustainable products more expensive than non sustainable products if the desired behaviour is to have all companies producing products and/or services that are sustainable?

Are shoppers aware that their money rewards companies to act in a certain way?

Can it be that the current economical set up is positioning  companies to reap the benefits of appearing to act responsibly and capitalise on the reputational and financial advantages of greener positioning, without the additional investment required to transform organisational strategy?

2021 should bring some answers to this trend as more and more businesses try to convey to their customers that their decisions truly matter. 

  1. Circularity hits mainstream consciousness 

In 2021, the circular economy will be everywhere as production and operation closed-loop systems have been gaining ground in recent years.

As enterprise companies wake up to the potential commercial opportunities from shifts in consumer behavior, the circular economy will continue to make strides towards being widespread. 

Generation-Z and millennials are likely to have the most impact on sustainable global futures. These shoppers are increasingly aware of their environmental impact. Growing climate-consciousness is a significant driver of their spending habits.

Beyond younger shoppers, green consumerism is on the rise across all society segments. Customers are motivated by more than just quality or price alone; more and more want to buy from brands that align with their values and belief systems. 

As this Nike case study illustrates, brands need to strike a balance between eco-credentials and product-design. Consequently, a focus on streamlining manufacturing processes must also result in well-designed products.

It is becoming obvious that brands must incorporate purpose and profitability into their product and service design. 

Where brands lead, consumers will follow. When companies offer better products that also happen to be eco-friendly, sustainability will become the norm, rather than limited to particular consumer segments. 

  1. The Sharing Economy continues to grow despite social distancing 

In 2021, collaborative consumption will continue to thrive. The rationale for collaborative consumption is shifting; it is no longer just about thrift, but about other motives consumers have for participating in the sharing economy

There is a growing awareness of the environmental impact of fast fashion, and this goes beyond the carbon footprint of their clothing: the working conditions of those creating it matter now, the pay they get for their labour matters, the natural resources they use in producing the clothing matter and so much more .

In 2020 Selfridges, partnered with Hurr, marking the crossover of garment rental from thrift to luxury. The peer-to-peer rental service was first launched as a pop-up but became a permanent fixture in the Oxford Street store after striking success.

Rental offers the chance to fashionistas to access high-priced fashion at a fraction of the cost. Moreover, it enables smart shoppers to wear one-off garments, allowing them to stand out from the crowd in a world increasingly dominated by ubiquitous fast-fashion brands. 

  1. The pandemic accelerated the rise of the cashless society

Cashless payments were already proliferating before 2020,  but they have accelerated under the current circumstances. During this pandemic, understandably, consumers want(ed) to avoid interaction with other shoppers, leding to a rise in contactless payments

Beyond shared touch screens, many retailers are also trialing new payment systems and brands are experimenting with innovative solutions that make it possible for customers to exit without having to queue.

With the current focus on hygiene, many customers want to avoid payment using shared interfaces. In 2021, Amazon Go is planning to launch UK grocery stores, with the first store expected to open by the end of the year.  

The global health crisis has led to a change in consumer behavior, and brands must adapt to shifting trends. In 2020, Walmart launched no-contact services. By scanning a QR code that syncs with the Walmart pay app, shoppers can purchase goods in-store without interacting with shared screens.

While cashless payments are by no means a silver bullet for sustainability, digital payments require fewer materials than physical money does.

However, the jury is still out when it comes to the eco-friendliness of digital payments versus cash, and for the moment we decided to not bring to the discussion bitcoin and blockchain.

More to come on this topic during 2021.

  1. Tech is not the trend, but the enabler of all trends 

Technology is rapidly evolving and giving rise to new opportunities for corporate growth.

However, it is down to organisations to disrupt the status quo and capitalise on emerging trends and technologies. Companies that have set up their operations for continuous innovation, are better equipped to navigate disruption than companies that have resisted a digital evolution.  

Our mission at Circklo is to accelerate sustainability while embedding the principles of circular economy throughout the business world.

If you are interested in any one of these trends and want to develop your own start up to help solve an industry problem, consider applying now to our Business Configurator Academy dedicated to early stage start-ups. 

We are looking to accelerate starts-ups for profit and impact in the areas of:

  • Non-financial metrics calculators, and track and trace platforms
  • Sustainable Food and Beverage companies
  • Sustainable Fashion companies
  • Recycling and reuse of resources (i.e., plastic, metals)
  • Financial technology (Fintech)

Circklo wants to extend this list of trends and also incorporate your views, please follow us on Twitter or LinkedIn and let’s continue the conversation.

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