8 of the Top Product Management Trends to Watch for in 2021


US savings rates have skyrocketed during COVID-19. That has been the result of consumers worrying they’ll be affected by the ailing economy. For companies that are launching new products, that’s bad news.

Heightened prudence around saving means fewer opportunities to capture revenue.

Planning the launch of products during the best or the worst of times requires an excellent product management strategy. Your ability to craft said strategies hinges on understanding what trends to watch out for 2021 that are going to affect product workflows.

To help you start 2021 off on the right foot and maximize your product launch’s efficacy, our team has compiled factors that will define product management in the months ahead. Keep reading to learn more.

1. Hybrid Teamwork

2020 was the year of remote-based teamwork for most product management teams. As we push into 2021, we’re expecting officials will become more lenient on in-person collaboration.

Even if the COVID-19 pandemic is brought under control, most businesses will continue to conduct some work remotely, as there are cost benefits to doing so. With that in mind, plan on managing your products through digital communications and in-office.

2.Teams Will Remain Lean

If your company transitioned to lean product management 2020 (as many companies did), don’t expect trimmed fat to hop back on the bone during 2021. There are still a lot of unanswered questions as to how we’ll em rge from landscape-changing government regulations and people’s shifting health behaviors.

Those ambiguities will make it so product management teams will hesitate to reengage contractors and temps to help with launches as they may have in 2019 and in years before that.

3. Seeking Consumer Narratives Will Continue Remotely

Part of any successful product management strategy is to understand consumers. Product managers’ understanding of consumers and their needs are condensed into narratives. These are used to inform various stages of product development and marketing.

While in-person focus groups used to be the norm around collecting narratives, expect 2020’s forced virtual qualitative data collection workflows to stay far into the future. Collecting data virtually saves teams time. It also allows teams to connect with a wider swath of their user bases, faster.

Those are advantages teams won’t so easily cast aside post-COVID.

4. Consumer Privacy Questions Will Swirl

As more data between consumers and product teams are exchanged virtually, questions on privacy will continue to swirl. Does your firm know how best to ensure that data transmitted online can be protected? Do you have a go-to legal authority you can consult with?

If you don’t, know that getting privacy savvy should be a priority as 2021 pushes on. Lawsuits for data breaches will likely swell alongside opportunists’ attempts to intercept data.

5. Digital Products Will Be a Focus

Among the most obvious trends to watch with product management workflows will be the increased weight put on digital products. It may be months before people are allowed to engage with brands the way they did in 2019. Even then, certain swaths of the population may take years before they feel comfortable being fully active consumers again.

To reach 2021’s introverts and extroverts as unilaterally as possible, expect product teams should try and focus their vision on digital products. These products may manifest themselves in the way of software, subscriptions, or anything else that can be sold and engaged with via the web.

We’ve seen several companies start offering digital subscription bundles in recent months, including TripAdvisor and several media companies with their direct-to-consumer offerings (Paramount+, Discovery+, etc.).

6. Leaning on Walled-Off Workflows

In some product management settings, you had team members that wore multiple hats and collaborated outside of the lines of their roles.

While that approach to work is rewarding in a variety of ways, organization and accountability are going to be essential in largely virtual work environments. That could lead to more managers stringently specifying roles and team members being forced to work solely within those bounds.

By being strict on who does what, it will be easier to move tasks along and products to launch. We expect this new normal to be near the top of many people’s lean product management trends lists.

7. Frequent Forecast Adjustments

Product management is accompanied by a lot of marketing forecasting during the development phase of products. These forecasts are largely what gives products the green light to move deeper into development and production.

Given the dynamic nature of today’s marketplace, we expect to see that financial forecasts surrounding products will need to be revisited frequently to adjust for new information.

That may mean additional resources needing to be moved to finance teams to account for the extra effort.

8. Post-COVID Marketing Integrations

As product management teams move into the marketing phases of their launches, we expect to see references to a slowing pandemic make their way into messaging. Whether or not this trend comes to fruition, of course, will be based on how government guidelines evolve. This will also vary on a state-to-state basis.

That might mean local campaigns could entice activity while national campaigns could remain conservative so as not to undermine more strict approaches to stepping out of the pandemic.

In 2020, several marketers leaned into how their products helped keep people safe. In 2021, you’ll at very least see less of that messaging, especially in the back half of the year.

Trends to Watch Are Always Changing, so Stay Tuned

The world of product management was dynamic before the global pandemic. With changes in 2020 and 2021 poised to create further disruption, we implore you to keep an eye on this year’s trends to watch, as they’re liable to change often.

We’ll be sure to keep sharing product management trends that are important to teams like yours on our blog. Are you looking for additional insight on other entrepreneurial or finance what to watch in 2021 trends? If you are, explore the newest blog content we have posted now!

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