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Predicting Consumer Trends for 2020

Posted on Monday 17 February 2020

ICG member Sarah Jenkins presents her predictions for 2020. Comments below are welcome. Any other predictions you’d like to make?

One month into 2020 and at the start of Britain’s official exit from the European Union, we are looking at the changing behaviour of consumers and considering what trends we think will emerge this year.   Here are three of our hypotheses as to how the consumer mindset may shift and how savvy brand will tackle it.

1.     CONSUMER BURNOUT: SUPPORTING CONSUMERS TO ACHIEVE BALANCE

We have been noticing an increased sense amongst consumers that the current political and economic climate is causing many to question what constitutes a ‘good life’.  With Generation Z leading the way in opting out of conventional life paths, there seems to be a widescale societal assessments of what merits a life in the fast lane.  Mental and physical wellness is likely to continue to be a consumer pre-occupation, as will the home as a safe haven and retreat. Smart brands will be proactive in supporting those who feel let down by, and burned, by modern life.

2.     THE RISE OF BARTER CULTURE, THE KINDNESS ECONOMY AND MONEY SUBSTITUTES

The conscious consumer seeks to reduce waste and has a renewed sense of vulgarity around materialism and mistrust of big money houses. At the same time we are witnessing a rise in appreciation in the value of giving time rather than money through the growth of local community organisations such as Good Gym and Re-engage, and the advent of virtual currency, meaning the tangibility of coins and notes has decreased. Our anti-waste culture means a simple exchange of goods for goods feels more 2020.  Charity shop purchases are up exponentially; and the launch of Civil Media a community-owned journalism network based on transparency and trust which uses cryptocurrency to encourage independent media, all point to this attitudinal shift.  We predict a rise in barter style exchanges, second-hand retail environments, and payment methods based on more than just a financial transaction.

3.     CONNECTING WITH CONSUMERS VIA THE VIRTUAL ‘HUMAN FACE’

We have been talking for a long time about how younger consumers are actively seeking meaningful human connections, true friendships and a desire to connect at a human level.  Yet younger consumers have a natural scepticism around the fallibility of human beings, and see virtual connections and online tribes as being as ‘real’ as those forged in person. Perhaps the natural extension of this is the virtual companion?  Consumers are increasingly comfortable with AI-driven personas.  Chatbots and virtual ambassadors have been around for years, but we anticipate this going to a new level with Avatars.  These provide the best of ‘humankind’ with the reliability and trustworthiness of an algorithm.  It’s no coincidence that China has just launched its first virtual news anchor.   We are expecting to see an increased applications of AI to help build customer loyalty founded on emotion-mapping and virtual ‘friendship’.

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