Privacy laws, consumer recovery and 5G will be top-of-mind for marketers in 2021. To understand how brands can navigate these trends, Carol Reed, executive vice president of data and product marketing at WPP, discussed the new consumer engagement playbook with three marketing leaders at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), including: Gabby Cohen, brand marketer at Harry’s Inc., Iván Markman, chief business officer for Verizon Media and Alyssa Raine, group vice president of customer marketing platforms at Walgreens.

Amid lockdowns, brands were pushed to find creative ways to inspire togetherness. Markman says that at Verizon, this meant creating shared experiences through a personalized sports community of friends and family. In September, the company debuted a ‘Watch Together’ feature that enables four people to interact via video chats while watching live local and primetime NFL games in the Yahoo Sports app.

At the same time, Verizon debuted a new feature called Yahoo Sports PlayAR, giving fans the ability to see graphical replays of key plays across all games in near real-time through augmented reality (AR). Markman says features like these can help build consumer trust and thereby enable consensual first-party data relationships.

At online subscription-based Rent the Runway, Cohen, the brand’s former senior vice president of brand, communications and business development, and her team responded to the pandemic by building trust and uplifting consumers through feel-good content, rather than content that encouraged buying. There, Cohen was instrumental in overhauling RTW’s membership plans as consumers opted for sweats over dresses in lockdowns, a trend that compelled the brand to do away with its unlimited rental option and create updated plans.

For Raine and Walgreens, delivering exceptional customer experiences to its 100 million loyalty members during the pandemic required leveraging first-party data to understand customers’ individual healthcare needs. In April, the chain announced expanded telehealth features through its Walgreens Find Care platform, including a COVID-19 risk assessment. Raines says personalized experiences will continue to guide Walgreens in the new year given the inherently personal nature of the vaccination.

Further highlighting the significance of first-party data in 2021, Markman mentioned Verizon’s new ConnectID identity solution, which launched in early December of 2020. The new ID aims to help advertisers and publishers navigate audiences and deliver relevant messaging without third-party cookies.