6 marketing trends for 2020

Lisa Portolan
Tue 17 Sep

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) told us, “Change alone is eternal, perpetual, immortal.” We constantly find ourselves questioning – what will happen next? What is around the corner? Can we predict outcomes? Nowhere is that more important than in advertising, communications and marketing, where staying ahead of the curb ball is part of our livelihood. An understanding of future trends not only provides marketers with the ability to stay ahead of the pack, but also provides us with the ability to advise clients appropriately. In a turbo-charged industry, where digital is now at its very core, that can be difficult. For this very reason marketers employ researchers, barometers, purchase data, and other points of reference to provide a more solid, tangible view of consumer trends in the next twelve months. 

Traditionally, communications and marketing consultancies release their projections on marketing trends for the following year from September through to January. The lion’s share of the year is complete, and a series of clear pillars or ideas are starting to take an omnipotent role in client discussions, media narrative and beyond. Ogilvy releases its Fortune 5 report relating to the following year, whilst Edelman releases its Trust Barometer in January, and Red its Red Sky Predictions. Trends in marketing and communication, are not only felt in the industry, rather they are confluence of things. They come to be felt through social media, via traditional media, in our every-day discussions and even in our very minds! 

So, as astute marketers what 6 trends should you be across in 2020? Here we go high-level and talk about the themes rather than the execution techniques you need to know. 

1. Go woke or go broke 

Increasingly big industry and corporates have become more interested in the values that underpin their organisation. Diversity and inclusion has become a core facet of any harmonious business. Alongside this the burgeoning #metoo movement is going from strength to strength. Organisations are being asked to exemplify “woke” values internally not only to retain and attract talent, but also to drive positive agendas, leveraging their platforms to drive important issues. 

Earlier on in the year Gillette’s ‘Toxic Masculinity’ ad sparked a wave of media which declared, “Go woke, and go broke”, after Gillette suffered major consumer backlash and its worst quarter in twenty years. The wave of Twitter negativity saw comments like, “When did razors have to go to political?” and “Way to irreparably damage a brand in 120 seconds.” Commentators have discussed the why around this negative backlash, concluding that it may have been too early for such a powerful statement and that Gillette might have been out of synch with their consumers. \

Despite the Gillette backlash, this is certainly a trend which corporate, commercial and government clients will need to focus on in 2020, as audiences around the world demand more from their brands, urging them to express values which underpin a modern and progressive society. 

2. Authenticity

Transparency was the buzz word for 2019, and it looks to be dethroned by authenticity in 2020. The two words are virtually synonyms, but there is a sliver which separates them. Transparency relates to telling consumers and staff the full truth and nothing but the truth (we can see how this rose to the fore as a result of the Royal Commission into banking and other major events, where consumers lost trust in the institutions which underpinned society), whilst authenticity relies on invoking a more genuine approach to story-telling, a humility, a capacity to retell the personal as well as the factual. 

Tim Burrows, editor of Mumbrella writes, “For all the age of authenticity hype, there’s actually never been a time when brands and individuals have been able to get away with more inauthentic behaviour. She Is Roxy,” in his weekly EDM, referring to the I am Roxyprogram which has recently aired, and Mumbrella’s podcast. However, he goes onto write, “But the thing is, it was a really good interview. She was a lot more self-aware, and self-deprecating than I’d anticipated. Honest and intense was how Viv summed up the conversation in her intro, and I’d agree with that.” 

Honest and intense are indeed the underpinning values of this new wave of authenticity. 

3. Thought-leadership

As we see a greater convergence between research, innovation and industry, so to do we see a surge of thought-leadership. Government Secretary’s, CEOs, MDs, but also creative thinkers, and advocates across agencies at any level are starting to drive a wave of thought-leadership, in vastly diverse topics. The underlying driver – if you have something important to say, say it. 

4. Internal communication

Often the overlooked sibling in the communications space, internal communications is quickly racing to the forefront. In the past internal communications has traditionally not been done well, particularly within large-scale change management. However, organisations have quickly learned to turn their focus to staff first, with “internal-first” led campaigns, to keep their people aware of change and communication prior to external release. Alongside this is the drive to create positive work-cultures, focussed on engaged staff, fashioning happier and healthier workplaces.

5. Action-led

It’s no longer enough to be hypothesizing about change and developing strategies to deploy, increasingly consumers are seeking action-first. A wave of citizen-politics has been gaining significant momentum, with citizen-led campaign driving the demonization of plastic bags and Styrofoam cups. We see it in student strikes and in Vegan activism, Greta Thunberg, Swedish student, is often held as the pinnacle of this movement, as she acts to hold politicians accountable for climate change. How will this transpire in communications? Campaigns will need to focus on more action led approaches.

6. Integration – more than ever before 

For years the industry has been talking about how advertising is dead, and a greater level of integration is required across traditionally siloed communications verticals. Nonetheless, many organisations and communication bodies have been slow with the uptake. In 2020 we’ll see innovation at the heart of communications, with bold ideas leading the charge followed by their execution methods, and bespoke campaigns tailored to audience needs.