Here are 5 key areas that will surge and the brands within these sectors that are ramping up their marketing activities. 

Click on the brands in bold to see their profile in ALF.

Passion for Plants

Consumers are looking for a natural escape from the stressors of urban life and growing plants, flowers or food was ranked the second most popular activity during lockdown, beaten only by watching TV. As both retailers and consumers see DTC as a seamless service also for fragile or cumbersome products, buying plants through this channel is now much more convenient for the new customer.

Patch Plants is leading the way in this sector, making the experience of the trip to the out-of-town garden centre a thing of the past. The brand targets a generally younger demographic accustomed to shopping online and turning to the Internet for advice on seeding, planting, growing and harvesting. 

Since its launch in 2015, this innovative UK start-up has delivered over 250,000 plants to more than 82,000 customers across London and Paris.

Patch Plants are leading the way for both indoor and outdoor plants. It is only a question of time before competitors start appearing and will one of the DTC florists like Bloom & WildFreddie’s Flowers or Flowerbx start competing in the same space?


Consumers have become more conscious of their carbon footprint and want to shop more sustainably, driving a move towards buying pre-loved and vintage items.

Peer-to-Peer site Depop combines elements of eBay and Instagram to allow users to buy and sell fashion items in an environmentally friendlier way. The brand is expected to grow exponentially as fashion brands take to resale platforms to compensate for the current lack of physical sales channels and minimize losses on excess inventory.

To facilitate transactions through the platform, VibePay has rolled out a new way for users to request payments from anyone, not just their contacts, directly from their secure bank account. The fintech brand now has 24 banks integrated with the app, including new additions such as Starling, Capital One and Tesco. Through this, VibePay aims to boost engagement with its users and drive more sign-ups amongst its Gen Z audience.

The company has just launched VibePay Business, a business dashboard that will help SMEs to increase reach and build better connections with their customers, which will in turn drive sales and engagement.

Luke Massie, CEO of VibePay, said: “In the past 12 months there has been a rapid acceleration of digital payments, a huge growth in social commerce, and a renewed focus from consumers in wanting to support SMEs and buy from people they know.”

Personal Enrichment

The UK is leading the way in the use of learning apps as Britons try their hand at learning new skills and picking up new hobbies at a time when we are looking for different things to do during our leisure time.

Language learning app Duolingo said that its number of new users soared in 2020, especially in the UK. It says that globally new users were up by 67% compared to 2019, while in the UK they shot up by 132%, almost double the worldwide average. In Q3 last year the company’s total media budget reached over £300,000; the highest it had ever spent.

Most interestingly about this brand, it now offers courses in ‘conlangs’ which are invented languages such as Parseltongue in Harry Potter, or Dothraki and High Valyrian in Game of Thrones.

Another company in this sector is Mindvalley, an award-winning personal growth platform which has quadrupled in revenue since 2016 and is laser-focused on disrupting the multi-trillion-dollar global wellness industry. After investing millions into new programs, products and partnerships, the company has announced the launch of its newest platform, Mindvalley for Business, and welcomes former Zumba CMO as Chief Strategy Officer to drive growth across all lines of business.

Botanical detergents

Unilever is planning to spend €1bn changing what it puts in its laundry and cleaning products to cut out ingredients made from fossil fuels. Some brands which have already taken the leap into plant-based detergents are:

Reckitt Benckiser introduced its first plant-based household brand with the launch of Botanical Origin. According to RB, there was a gap in the market for plant-based products that met performance standards and offered good consumer value.

RB’s research found that, when it comes to plant-based solutions, there are two key barriers for consumers: 1. The belief that plant-based does not work as well as conventional options, and 2. They are not willing to spend more on these products which are traditionally more expensive.

RB’s e-Commerce General Manager explained: Botanical Origin breaks those barriers as we offer plant-based products that really work, without having to pay a premium.” He added: “We expect 2021 to be a key year for educating and encouraging the big change towards plant-based cleaning solutions that really work.” Are you able to help RB reach its target audience and change consumer perception of plant-based detergents? Botanical Origin launched in Q3 last year. The brand spent over £600,000 across TV that quarter and is most likely to further invest across more media channels.

Another brand in this sector that raised £8m to tackle large FMCG companies is Smol. It delivers to subscribers’ homes eco-friendly laundry capsules and dishwasher tablets  through letterboxes, undercutting the price of the leading brands.

Created by former Unilever employees Paula Quazi and Nick Green in 2018, it has also launched its own-brand, animal-fat-free, vegan fabric conditioner; and a 100% plastic-free, child-lock packaging for its laundry and dishwashing products as well as recyclable fabric conditioners made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic. Smol also offers a returns scheme for refill and reuse.

Branded ready-meals

Sales of chilled ready meals fell by 3.6% in 2020 [Nielsen w/e 5 September 2020], one of the few casualties of a year in which grocery retail sales climbed by 8%. But all is not as it appears. Own label is to blame for chilled ready meals’ decline with sales plummeting by £93.9m (5.2%), down 5.1% on volume. This is hardly surprising given that retailers’ offerings account for 85.9% of market value. Own label was particularly exposed when the appeal of quick, convenient TV dinners began to wane under lockdown. The shift towards smaller neighbourhood stores which tend to overtrade on brands also helped buoy branded performance.

Supermarkets saw stronger performance and sales of branded chilled meals  surged by £19.7m (7.6%), up 2.5% on volume. The 5% rise in average prices indicates that consumers were willing to splash out more on premium at-home meal occasions, partly as a result of the lack of opportunity for treats outside the home with pubs and restaurants being closed. Jumping on this new trend, Leon expanded its retail range with ready meals and vegan additions.  As Leon uses its retail presence to compensate for the decline of it restaurant sales, other brands like Nando’s will most likely follow suite to increase revenue and reach consumers.