5 min read

Digital Signage Trends of 2021: challenges and opportunities

Written by
Pavlo Fedykovych
Published on
February 2, 2021
May 29, 2024

2020 has been a difficult, unpredictable year for economies around the world. Businesses suffered a huge blow due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Screen technology was among the industries negatively hit by the effects of the novel coronavirus. As the new year presents new challenges, it’s time to talk about the digital signage trends of 2021 to try to anticipate what to expect.

Present and future of digital signage market

Looking at the current state of the digital signage market, there’s good and bad news. As screen technology is tightly interconnected with other industries and can’t function without them, it is highly dependent on lockdowns and their negative outcomes. On the other hand, digital signage is very flexible and can handle crises well due to its technological and future-oriented nature. 

Predictions are also positive, Meticulous Research estimates that the digital signage market will grow at a CAGR of 4.3% from 2020 to 2027 to reach $19.44 Billion by 2027. The recovery scenarios largely depend on the ability of governments to effectively deal with the virus and vaccinate the populace.

The digital signage market is set to grow at a CAGR of 4.3% from 2020 to 2027 to reach $19.44 Billion by 2027

Meticulous Research

As we see, the countries have already started the vaccination program, however, it is still slow and the curfews are in place with many Western economies struggling to contain the virus. This situation inevitably affects the digital signage industry.  

Digital signage technology trends at a glance

While the pandemic paralyzed the world, technology didn’t stop innovating.

Coronavirus has changed the way we approach public spaces, interact with each other and businesses

That in turn has directly influenced digital signage industry that was quick to adapt to the new normal with new effective screen solutions to tackle the ongoing pandemic on one hand and make sure that the businesses get the most of the experience on the other.

So here are TOP-5 digital signage trends that in Kitcast’s opinion will be extremely relevant in 2021. 

digital signage trends

1. Going touchless

Due to the highly contagious character of the novel coronavirus such a basic feature of human interaction as touch has become obsolete, even dangerous.

2020 saw a rapid demise of tactile and this trend is going to be even more actual in 2021. While digital signage applies tactile technologies in kiosks and interactive screens, it can do equally good without it. So this year we can anticipate the rise of alternative screen interaction types like voice, gestures and face scanning. 

Even though touch has become less desirable, it is not going anywhere. As humanless screen boxes (like the self-service kiosk at the fast-food chains or wayfinding at the airport) are next-gen technologies that have already been at the forefront of innovation, they are still better than a human-to-human solution in a COVID-19 world. So while we can expect more non-tactile digital signage options in 2021, touch-based solutions remain to be relevant. 

2. Online integration

The pandemic has drastically changed the way we buy things. Already controlling 50% of the American e-commerce market, Amazon’s traffic has increased by as much as 20%. Demand for some services, such as home grocery delivery, soared by as much as 90%.

Brick and mortar stores and traditional ways to browse for goods in retail spaces have become a thing of the past in a short period of time. Digital signage technology heavily deployed in large and small retail spaces was put to a standstill as the lockdowns closed their doors. 

This situation gives birth to a new trend - screen integration with online.

As e-commerce becomes a new norm for shopping in a COVID-19 world, digital signage becomes a technological intermediary between the physical location of the online merchant and a customer.

The screen in such a scheme operates as a better way to organize the process of purchase, PSA tool and a content marketing canvas. Nevertheless, as fast-growing as e-commerce is, traditional retail is not going anywhere just yet so digital screens are set to shine bright again once the restrictions are lifted. 

3. Public health correlation

What’s a better way to distribute information than through a screen? It is extremely fast, highly visual and informative. And being such a communication tool has become one of the primary roles of digital signage across the public spaces in a time when public health communication is crucial to stop the spread of a contagious virus.

As the coronavirus pandemic is still far from ending in 2021, we will see the public health digital signage more. Be it the airport, the railway station, the workplace or a shopping mall, screens will inevitably be used for a more efficient PSA distribution.

It is a positive role that digital signage technology plays in a coronavirus fight and the more companies and organizations adopt it the better. 

4. More personalized and relevant content

Due to the social distancing measures and a new reality of interpersonal relations, people choose to spend as little time in possible inside buildings. While the advertising was already extremely competitive and attention spans super short, the pandemic made the mission of turning people’s eyeballs with content even harder. 

That’s why 2021 will see businesses turning to more personalized and relevant content that can spark the interest of a potential consumer instantly.

People love when businesses get creative and deliver high-quality content that is personalized according to the needs of the customer.

5. More focus on outdoors

Many businesses in the US, EU and UK have felt the devastating impacts of lockdowns. There were periods when the customers simply couldn't go in. That in turn means that digital screens inside stop serving any purpose. As lockdowns become a norm and their occurrence is unpredictable, 2021 will see businesses focusing more on the outdoors in order to reach their target audience. 

For the digital signage market actors that would mean an increase of outdoor solutions and adding new technologies that can cater to a new trend. As the vaccination campaign becomes more and more successful, the indoor will gradually return. However, it's hard to expect the customer experience to be the same as the pre-pandemic one. With new virus variants and waning vaccine effectiveness issues, businesses should be prepared for the worse at all times and think about the ways to smoothly go through the difficulties imposed by the restrictions due to the novel coronavirus.

Outdoor medium seems like a secure marketing investment and it is among the hottest digital signage trends of both 2021 and 2022. There is constant interaction with a customer and no dependence on the inside presence. That, in turn, means independence from the pandemic-related limitation for the businesses and a chance to increase sales.

As one of the digital signage future trends, outdoors should be treated seriously by the businesses and it will bring a great return on investment.

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