The South by Southwest Festival was cancelled at the last minute in 2020, so while a virtual conference in 2021 isn’t the same as being in Austin, grabbing breakfast tacos every day and getting the chance to see interesting things and meet interesting people, we were more than happy to check it out.
Jon Woods and I decided we’d recap some of our favorite learnings and takeaways in a more conversational way this year – check out the audio link below for our discussion from the first day of virtual sessions – and then dive into a few links to more information for some of the brands, concepts and products that we discussed.
Overarching themes for SXSW 2021 of course included the global pandemic and how its impacted how we all work, play and live (and related opportunities as we come out of the other side of COVID-19); social justice conversations and considerations; advancing diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace and beyond; and the changing digital ecosystem. Ultimately, for a virtual event SXSW still brought the big names and great ideas – drop us a line if you have follow up questions on any of the concepts we discussed!
More information from some of the sessions we shared:
- Jim talked about subscription-based Newsletters as a means for people getting the news they’re looking for. We mentioned Substack, Revue, Morning Brew and Axios, as well as Matt Brown and Action Cookbook’s newsletters.
- We also discussed revered Texas grocery store chain H-E-B’s efforts to pivot quickly in a pandemic and provide on-demand delivery services via the first acquisition the 150-year-old company has ever made in the company Favor.
- Ben & Jerry’s, The Body Shop and a brownie company named Greyston talked about “Purpose Washing,” the need for companies to tie themselves to a cause to stay relevant with consumers and being okay with not making everyone happy all the time.
- Jon discussed the stock footage company Story Blocks and what they’re doing to incorporate more diversity in stock images and footage.
- We also talked about Best Buy and how they were able to rollout curbside pick-up in every single one of their stores in 48 hours shortly after the start of the pandemic by mostly focusing on customer/user behaviors and bring large teams together virtually.
- One trend from growing cities is focusing on “Complete Neighborhoods” or “10-minunte neighborhoods” which we’ll likely hear more and more about in cities like Austin and Denver.
- Finally, Accenture presented its 2021 Fjord Trends which is always interesting and provides great insights for opportunities based on user behavior.