Each turn of the new year we’ve taken a look back on the past year’s SmartLeads™ trends. As we wrap up 2020 (phew, what a year it’s been!), it’s no surprise to learn that we’ve had a shift in sector/subsector focus.  On a side note, does anyone else feel that in many ways this has seemed like the longest year ever but in others it seems to have flown by?  Anyway, throughout the year, we’ve served many wonderful clients and have seen trends in active and emerging industry sectors as well as within the company leads themselves, including company location. 

It’s clear that all industries have been impacted, either negatively and/or positively by Covid-19.  Similar to years’ past, company leads from many of the main industry sectors continue to be top requested from our clients here at Whittaker Associates. However, due to the pandemic, some industries or specific subsectors have taken off or newly emerged.  In response to the pandemic, we’ve realized more special focus on unique subsectors within industries that have been impacted versus more of a broad look at the industries.

As you’d suspect, we continue to have SmartLeads™ requests year after year within the smart manufacturing industry, but due to the pandemic, special focus has been put on in-demand sectors within the industry.  For example, manufacturing healthcare, medical equipment and PPE to kayaks and outdoor equipment, home exercise equipment, boats, electronics, cold storage, and now, outdoor domes for dining in cold temperatures has been positively impacted.  Within the food and beverage industry, there’s been a Covid-driven increase in demand for high protein deli meats, health snacks and frozen foods.  Warehousing, transportation and logistics have been positively impacted as the need for warehousing (in turn, data center) space continues to grow. 

Here are the Top 5 Requested SmartLeads™ Industries of 2020:

1. Advanced Manufacturing  

2. Food & Beverage

3. Warehouse, Transportation, Logistics

4. Data Center

5. Technology/IT

We’ve also seen an increasing trend in the following industries throughout the year: Cannabis, Health, Data Center REITs, Electric Vehicle and Drone Manufacturers.

In 2019, we saw an increasing demand for office users and it’s obvious that the need for office space has done a 180 this year.  As companies have had to allow for work-from-home (or work-from-anywhere) situations for all employees, many have continued this route out of safety until a vaccine is distributed, ease now that it “can be done” and cost savings (to name a few) if office space can be downsized or eliminated.  Unfortunately, many companies have closed, downsized or are now moving headquarters and downtown locations out of larger cities, leaving buildings or spaces vacant.

Taking a look into 2020, not only was our team busy creating customized lists of active companies within these (and more) industry sectors and subsectors, but another trend we’ve noticed on our end is that many clients, along with lead generation of active companies, have taken advantage and pivoted their marketing efforts to focus on business retention and real estate needs within their own backyard. 

Real estate SmartLeads™ have assisted clients in filling these empty buildings while business retention efforts of a list of SmartLead™ companies within a client’s backyard have assisted in retaining companies that may be looking to relocate or expand elsewhere.  These lists have been among the top trend at Whittaker Associates SmartLeads™ in 2020.

As far as the company leads themselves, many of our clients may be seeking certain parameters (geography, size, and more) but overall, we’ve seen certain states come up again and again with active companies, most likely to move.  These states are California, Illinois and most of the Northeastern coastline.