2021 Digital Predictions with Lani Cummins, Incubeta AUS General Manager

In the third instalment of our Incubeta Ignite: 2021 Digital Predictions Series – where we’re catching up with some of Incubeta’s leadership team across our Global offices, to discuss predictions for 2021 – we had the pleasure of talking with Lani Cummins, General Manager at Incubeta AUS.

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With over 15 years in the industry, Lani started working for Incubeta in 2012, taking over as General Manager in 2017. Expanding on his previous predictions surrounding social commerce and the shift to digital, Lani discussed the current marketing landscape, and how this will adapt in 2021 to reflect the ever changing industry.


Based out of Sydney, Lani started by discussing Australia’s position regarding their pandemic processes in a global context. Despite being one of the largest countries in the world, Australia has been doing fairly well with limited local lockdowns, and a low number of cases. Looking at the world as a whole, Australia is undoubtedly in a much better position than many other countries including, but not limited to, the US and UK.

In terms of how Covid-19 has affected businesses out in Sydney, Lani spoke in relation to the spontaneity, or more accurately, the unpredictability of lockdown. The biggest challenge to retailers is how to plan their strategy to reflect their regional status, when restrictions could be imposed at the drop of a hat. This is particularly relevant for clients, or brands, who have a significant physical retail presence, as the short notice often accompanied with a lockdown announcement can prove problematic. Throughout 2020 we saw brands investing heavily in creating a strong digital and online presence, refining their strategy and planning for the unpredictable. Whilst this in no means outweighs the limitations of Covid-19, having spent a year managing and refining the situation, businesses have been able to adapt significantly, and can to some extent anticipate changes, and act accordingly. 

Budgets & Ad Spend

One of the key topics that resurfaced was the notion of budgets and ad spend in the digital space. Lani discussed this, emphasising that businesses can only spend what they have to spend, typically allocating a percentage of what they expect to generate that year, as their marketing budget.  Moving into 2021 we’ll likely see a larger percentage of budget spend being allocated to digital in comparison to previous years, reflecting the offline/online shift. Whilst we might see budget allocation begin to balance out post pandemic – as traditional media channels such as outdoor/cinemas/radio open –  it will never go back to what it was pre-Covid.

Focusing specifically on Australia Lani commented that, despite their somewhat upper hand in terms of vaccine rollout and number of cases, they’re still very much in the thick of it. There are definitely still Covid-19 related factors at a macro level that will influence budgetary decisions going forward. 

Emerging Trends

Lani expanded on the discussion of offline to online – stating that over the course of 2020 we saw between three to five years worth of change happen in just twelve months. The Covid-19 induced shift to digital was unparalleled, and this is particularly evident in both client investments and strategy. Digital has become an integral component of people’s business, and this will only burgeon throughout 2021.

Accompanying the profound emphasis on digital, in-house video and streaming play will undoubtedly surface this year as key focal points. Video content is becoming more popular by the day and we’ll likely see brands reflecting this within their strategy as they realise the potential of such mediums. Lani also expanded on his previous prediction from our Incubeta AUS/ASIA: 2021 Predictions piece regarding social commerce and integrated shopping experiences – stating that it’s been a long time coming. Whilst it took off in China (as early as 2017), we’re still waiting for the larger social channels, such as  Instagram and Facebook to catch up. A process that started towards the tail end of 2020 with the roll out of Instagram stores and Facebook shops. With the basic requirements in place, it’ll only be a matter of time before retailers get onboard and integrate it within their offering. Advertisers need to be engaging with Social commerce, focusing on their image quality, feed quality and channel planning as fundamentals. Social channels need to be optimised at the same level as physical or ecommerce plans – with the strategy tailored to suit each individual channel. Brands need to be refining their content, differentiating between platforms such as TikTok and YouTube.

Influencer Marketing 

There’s definitely value in the influencer market, and moving into 2021 we’ll likely see emphasis placed on TikTok influencers as they’ll play a bigger role for brands. TikTok is uniquely positioned as a platform that offers both organic and paid reach. This is beneficial for influencers as they have the ability to generate reach without additional media support – a feat that advertisers will likely capitalise on going forward. 

Click here to watch the full episode of Incubeta Ignite: Digital Predictions with Lani Cummins

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