Technology, Media & Telecommunications: Leading the journey to digital

Industry perspective from the 2021 Global Marketing Trends

During the pandemic, TMT leaders were able to respond with an agile approach in order to better meet to the quickly shifting needs of their customers.

An agile response to the global pandemic

Whether it’s doctor’s visits, ordering takeout from a restaurant, or watching the newest blockbuster, companies from nearly all industries moved many of their physical interactions and experiences to the digital realm. However, no group of executives embodied this digital mindset more than those associated with the technology, media, and telecommunications (TMT) industry.

When we surveyed more than 400 executives for our 2021 Global Marketing Trends report, we found many executives focusing on improving productivity and efficiency and risk management processes. Yet, TMT executives responded differently than most of their cross-industry peers. Specifically, they routinely prioritized accelerating their move to digital platforms (47%) and improving customer engagement (45%) over those more common efficiency and risk management plays (see figure 1).

Figure 1. The top three outcomes executives hope to achieve in response to COVID-19

Source: 2021 Global Marketing Trends C-suite Survey.

When we asked TMT executives why they are moving to more digitally oriented solutions, the top cited reason was to more quickly react to customer needs (49%), followed by providing more products and services directly to people’s homes (44%). Once again, both reasons led all cross-industry responses.

We’ve seen this manifest in myriad ways over the last year. When live concerts around the world were canceled, multiple brands rose to the occasion to stream live music directly through their digital platforms. This includes YouTube’s “Stay Home #WithMe” music series, Tidal’s “At Home with Tidal” virtual concerts program, and Epic Games’ Fortnite hosting Travis Scott’s free virtual concert in front of 12 million viewers, to name just a few examples.1

Similarly, when movie theaters shut down, many studios quickly pivoted their distribution models to promote direct-to-home digital releases. And in many cases, these new models proved incredibly successful. Take Universal’s Trolls World Tour release. Through its digital rental revenues, Universal earned more in three weeks than the original Trolls movie made in the five months it played in domestic theaters.2

Underlying these success stories is an important caveat: Consumers will take note of well-designed solutions. In addition to our executive survey, we also surveyed 2,447 global consumers. Of those consumers, 66% said the pandemic increased their appreciation for well-designed technologies, and 63% indicated that after the pandemic subsides, they will continue to use digital technologies more often than they did prior to the outbreak.3

The path to digital is a journey

While many TMT companies are leading the way in transforming their digital offerings and experiences, we realize that not all companies are as well-positioned to flip the switch and “go digital.” In fact, if executed in a rushed or inelegant manner, these new “solutions” can cause more headaches for customers and employees alike.

In these fast-paced, constantly evolving environments, it’s helpful to recognize that designing elegant digital solutions is often best viewed as a journey. In this spirit, we suggest starting your journey with three questions:

  • Where are you most susceptible to losing customers (or growing new ones)? With the many potential paths to building digital solutions, it’s important to start with the customer—and understanding where they can benefit most from a digital offering. Consider the pandemic’s impact on the movie viewing experience. In response, for all of 2021, Warner Bros. Entertainment has committed to launching new movies simultaneously in theaters and for 30 days on the streaming platform HBO Max.4
  • How can your digital solutions elevate the human experience? Digital solutions should be viewed as more than simple substitutions of physical offerings and instead as a means to elevate the experience. Home and auto insurer Lemonade deploys advanced analytics to quickly process a claim (often in minutes) through the use of its customer app—saving time for the customer and providing peace of mind that their needs are addressed.
  • Who is on board? Companies can better position themselves for success by taking a forward-looking view that integrates the various processes and systems that will inevitably interact with the digital experience—and most likely save time and resources over the long run. That means taking an inventory of the technologies and operational processes necessary to complete the transformation along with ensuring buy-in and collaboration with the various teams impacted.

By answering these foundational questions, brands can start from a position of strength, one that more holistically meets customer needs—in both the digital and physical world.

The 2021 Global Marketing Trends study
As our world went through rapid changes, we recognized a need to dig deeper into the evolving milieu to better understand how consumers and executives are responding to their new environments. With this in mind, we conducted two surveys to inform each of the 2021 Global Marketing Trends chapters.

The Global Marketing Trends Consumer Pulse Survey polled 2,447 global consumers, ages 18 and above, in April 2020. This survey was launched in the United States, the United Kingdom, Mexico, China, South Africa, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The Global Marketing Trends C-suite Survey polled 405 US C-suite executives from global companies in May 2020. This survey asked CMOs, CEOs, CFOs, CIOs, COOs, and CHROs their thoughts on a variety of topics related to their response to COVID-19.


1 Shashank Srivastava and Kevin Downs, “How streaming is changing the music industry,” Deloitte Insights, June 11, 2020.
2 This example and others were highlighted in Shashank Srivastava’s “After COVID-19, will movie fans return to the theater—or keep watching at home?Deloitte Insights, July 31, 2020.
3 Peter Sedivy and Michael Barrett, “Changing the playbook: Agile marketing for our increasingly digital world,” Deloitte Insights, October 15, 2020.
4 Rebecca Rubin and Matt Donnelly, “Warner Bros. to Debut Entire 2021 Film Slate, Including ‘Dune’ and ‘Matrix 4,’ Both on HBO Max and Theaters,” Variety, December 3, 2020.

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