#21interviews: 2021 comes with a disclaimer

by Louise Burgers. Today, we launch #21interviews, a series of chats with senior leadership in our retailing and branding sector.

by Louise Burgers. There’s a meme doing the rounds that we all want to see ‘terms and conditions’  before we enter 2021. As someone who has been writing about consumer trends for 15 years in this industry, I love consumer insights in our sector. But please mute me if I use the words ‘trends’ anytime soon. I still cringe when I think how I wished everyone a ‘Happy 20-Plenty’ in January. And who could have predicted that toilet paper would become a big seller this year?

And as someone with an avowed stationary fetish who buys inspirational paper diaries in September each year, complete with colour-coded pens and highlighters to plan my year – I haven’t even bothered to look at 2021 diaries yet. I’m not sure I will dare wish anyone a ‘Happy New Year’ at all after 2020. Can we all work on something more neutral please?

The year 2021 has to come with a disclaimer. We will make cautious plans; hope for better days; and mainline our vitamins so that if we do get Covid, we at least have a fighting chance.

#21interviews for 2021

So today, we launch #21interviews, a series of chats with senior leadership in our retailing and branding sector, from CEOs to CMOs, marketing directors and industry analysts, to decompress 2020 and talk about how we will be doing business in the maelstrom of uncertainty that will continue for another couple of years. Because while the vaccine news is wonderful; it will take a long time for everyone to get the two doses needed to establish herd immunity. #21interviews will run from 1-21 December.

Mental exhaustion is real, I know everyone is super tired and gatvol of this year. But we wanted to capture the thoughts of our industry leadership before we put 2020 behind us and never speak of it again. Because like it or not, every one of us in this pernicious plague experiment is part of history. We are writing the history of this time which will be studied by future generations – and not even just for 2020, possibly even just for last Tuesday.

When COVID-19 lockdowns, or shutdowns as they are known elsewhere, started to become real and suddenly the world went silent and our borders closed across Africa and in most parts of the world; at Retailing Africa, we took a decision to pause all commercial activity. Instead we asked how we could help you? We focussed on serving our industry best – by covering all the local and global webinars, until we were all Zoomed-out; decoding the consumer insights emerging; and asking our partners, columnists, and industry leadership, what we could do for them – how we could help them keep their businesses going? All we had to do was survive this year and help where we could within the industries we serve. And we will continue doing that.

Kindness is the currency right now. We need to do a lot more checking in with each other than fighting on social media. This time of accelerated change and radical culture shock has changed us all and will continue to impact on everything we do. The only way to prepare is through sharing our stories, our learnings, collaborating, and focussing on all our stakeholders. This means our employees, our customers and broader communities where we can make an impact. It will take a collective effort.


Louise Burgers (previously Marsland) is the Publisher and Editor and Co-Founder of RetailingAfrica.com. She has spent over 20 years writing about the FMCG retailing, marketing, media and advertising industry in South Africa and on the African continent. She has specialised in local and Africa consumer trends and is a passionate Afro-optimist who believes it is Africa’s time to rise again and that the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) will be a global gamechanger in the next decade.


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