News for Authors

Looking Ahead at Consumer Insights for Early 2021

by Grant Griglak|December, 2020

At Penguin Random House, direct communication and relationships with readers are key to marketplace success, and strong consumer marketing and outreach begin with understanding our audience. For a look at the quarter ahead (Q1 2021), read on! If you’d like to review the changes the team has been tracking over the course of the pandemic, check out the newsletter article from July here.


For the past couple of years, the Penguin Random House Consumer Insights team has produced a report called Moments, which aims to predict consumer sentiment and behaviors that we can expect during the following quarter (i.e., to capture a consumer mindset at a moment in time). To compile this report, we look at signals through various lenses, including cultural, commercial, category, and consumer, and we use multiple data sources including sales data, keyword search trends, and social media listening, as well as trade and consumer media. Here are the consumer mindsets that we think will be relevant in Q1 2021.

Seeking Empathy in a Post-Truth World: We struggle to find unity and compromise in a world where we face “truth decay.” This elucidates the tension that political polarization is on the rise—as more Americans use words like “different,” “dislikable,” and “immoral” to describe those of the opposite party (Vox)—while at the same time, seven in ten Americans believe they have “more in common with one another than many think” (Politico). As folks flock to “uncensored” sites like Parler and MeWe, how do we help Americans look past “their side” and find common ground in the truth and in respecting human rights? Books are uniquely positioned to help build empathy and see the world from someone else’s point of view—whether that’s through fiction or nonfiction, for kids or adults.

Spirituality Rising: After years of decreases in the percentage of Americans engaging with formalized religion, many are turning to faith and other spiritual avenues for hope, clarity, and community during this uncertain time. In fact, 24 percent of U.S. adults said their faith had become stronger as a result of the pandemic, while just 2 percent said their faith had weakened (Pew). The uptick also applies to nondenominational spirituality. For example, Google searches for “psychic predictions coronavirus” surged 250 percent globally from March to June” (Grazia).

Raising for Resilience: Parents are playing a multitude of roles, as they seek to ensure their kids are getting everything they need to thrive in today’s world. We see them championing education apps like Up or classes cultivating financial literacy, culinary knowledge, and job-seeking savvy. Smart educational institutions are teaching coding to toddlers and furnishing students with the crucial skill sets they need to thrive in emerging industries such as e-sports. Parents are also looking for advice in places like Nurture, which provides neuroscience-backed parenting tips and products.

The New Community: As consumers grapple with grief and anxiety about the pandemic, they seek connection more than ever. In addition to the devastating health impact of the COVID-19 crisis, people are struggling with “a loss of connection and identity while isolated” (Fast Company). Whether through virtual events (like Zoom’s new Zapps, games like Among Us, or simply virtual book clubs) or passion for fandoms (from Billie Eilish to Sesame Street), brands are poised to help fill the void.


Moments Q1 2021 also highlights anticipated consumer sentiment around key occasions:

  • New Year’s Day: Consumers are seeking inclusive wellness, activism as self-care, and journaling to process their emotions.
  • Valentine’s Day: In addition to romance, consumers want to celebrate their friends, their kids, and their pets.
  • Black History Month: Consumers are asking brands to go deeper than the usual Black History Month messaging such as MLK and Rosa Parks. While those figures are incredibly important, this year, consumers are looking for brands to walk the walk when it comes to supporting racial justice, and to go beyond February and integrate Black voices, stories, and consumers into everyday action.
  • Easter: While Easter is technically not until Q2 (April 4), consumers will be prepping ten to twelve weeks in advance. Those who celebrate tend to be younger, Millennial-parent families in the South and Midwest.


If you have content in your book that aligns with any of these themes or moments, contact your marketing team to discuss ways to activate your audience with relevant messaging, offers, and discussion opportunities!



Grant Griglak is Director, Consumer & Marketplace Insights at Penguin Random House.