Future Fortune 2020 ©Start Design

Consumer dynamics continue to rapidly evolve requiring brands to adjust and focus their customer first approach. The emergence of networked markets and platform brands have driven disruptive, digital first strategies to reach audiences. Customer experience (CX) has been central to success, with many such brands demonstrating fearlessness to push boundaries to better meet customer needs. They have been rewarded not only with commercial success, but with high levels of brand trust. The customer is in control and the new ‘smart-centric’ nature of Industry 4.0 is the paradigm shift across all sectors that will continue to unfold throughout the next decade.

For brands and their marketers this means a constant and ongoing shift towards scientifically executed strategies amplified with more human-centric emotive communications. Brands will make more sense of the intelligence at their disposal leading to increased automation across branding activities.

Here’s my Top 6 Trends for brands in 2020…

  1.     More Elephants In The Room

The Amazon Effect is not confined to Amazon, it represents the ongoing evolution and disruption of the consumer retail market, across online and in physical retail resulting from increased digital sales. Success has upended retail practice and customer expectations.

The Amazon Effect has changed the consumer landscape forever. It’s created more competition and raised customer expectations, changing purchasing behaviours across categories and sectors. Into 2020, Instashopping will take hold around the world. Significantly, today’s online power-players will make bigger in-roads into offline and physical retail. They will bring along ‘deep retail’ AI making omni-channel a true reality. Experiential Retail will grow in importance for Brands and customers alike.

  1. Disintermediation And Intermediation

Disintermediation will continue to rout out and remove inefficient parts of the value chain. The incredible growth of cloud technologies and platforms suggests the trend to disintermediation will continue. Disintermediation will separate many brand winners from losers in the next decade.

Going ‘Direct to Consumer’ will accelerate across many sectors with successful brands benefiting from closer relationships with customers and cost efficiencies. In 2020, disintermediation will give further impetus to C2C brands leveraging consumer motivations across networked markets.

With previously unobtainable consumer information, brands now have quality data enabling them to deliver better products, services and personalised mass communications. Rapid developments in the Intermediation space will provide growth in 2020 for D2C brands, with brand and marketplace growth powered by crowdsourcing. Consumers will increasingly directly influence products and online content requiring brands to be more agile, responsive and tailored.


Customer Disloyalty ©Start Design
  1. More Disloyalty

Customer ‘disloyalty’ is the new norm driving brand switching trends. The value of ‘newness’ is on the rise and will continue into the next decade. According to recent Nielsen study, just 8% of people consider themselves to be committed brand loyalists. The same study reports almost half of all consumers ‘love trying new things’, and half of the people preferring to ‘stick with what they know’ also ‘happy to experiment’. Brand switching propensity is highest in Asia and Middle East at around 45%, with consumers in US and EU somewhat less at around 36%. Neilsen’s report concludes that brands ‘may become overwhelmed if they do not aggressively tackle the rise of disloyalty in the marketplace’.

Increased disloyalty is partly driven by the Amazon Effect. However, smartphone ubiquity is the enabler of increased ‘conscious consideration’ purchasing behaviours for seekers of better prices and value for money. Such buying behaviours will continue to evolve with an ever-changing, smarter and more informed customer reshaping the future of brands. With smartphones woven into every step of the customer journey, brands will embrace the nuances of consumer consideration and purchasing behaviour at an individual customer level. Google’s ‘Micro Moments’ highlights the emergence of “right here, right now” behaviours. Accordingly, there has been a 150% growth in “__ near me now” mobile searches in the past 2 years. 

  1. Volume Up For Voice Tech

Voice search is here, and it’s here to stay, with voice-based shopping expected to jump to $40 billion in 2022. As one of the biggest transformations of our time, brands will sharpen their voice (audio) strategy. Early adopters will benefit the most into 2020 and beyond.

Quora has predicted that voice search will reach 50% of all online searches in 2020 and has the potential to upend digital marketing. 55% of teenagers are already using voice search daily basis, 40% of the adults now use mobile voice search at least once daily, and more than half of people 55+ using a voice-activated speaker believe it ‘empowers’ them. In 2020, Brands will increasingly prioritise voice search.

  1. Increased Currency Of Customer Voice

Consumers have the power, they make or break a Brand. Voice of the Customer (VoC) methodologies will be central in gaining greater overall perspective of a brand. Brands will become more receptive to change and adapt to what customers want. Social listening will continue to highlight the importance of customer hyperfocus. Brands will continue embedding tools like HubSpot to build ever closer ties to their audiences.  

Brand trust will increasingly be influenced by community groups, referrals from friends and family, social media and marketplace reviews alike, all impact purchasing decisions. So, at a time of greater brand automation, the human aspects of an organisation will become increasingly important, if not vital to overall brand success.

Generational shifts impacting global consumption will require brands to be more vigilant and agile to maintain relevance and enhance consideration. Warmth, honesty and genuine care, fairness and openness and responsible citizenship are characteristics we look for in our relationships with people, more than ever before we will choose brands with similar values. Wunderman’s notion of ‘Wantedness’ provides a snapshot that 89% US and 84% UK customers are loyal to brands that share their values. Around 80% will consider brands that genuinely care.


Brand Trusted Source ©Start Design – Data ©Hubspot
  1.  Rise Of Design System And Branding Automation

Design Systems will continue to transform branding, providing control and conformity of visual design across all interfaces. Design Systems feature asset and component libraries and protect the brand integrity and investments into branding. Coded brand assets and components remove duplication of effort and speed up time to market. Entire, multi-vendor teams work directly and accurately from the same source. AI will enable Design Systems to become more automated, powerful and responsive.

Brand automation will rise prominence. Production based activities requiring manual support will automate. Conventional relationships between client and agency partners will fundamentally change. Brands will migrate existing brand and marketing assets to automate future placement and the use of template frameworks will increase. Brand automation allows teams to self-service design with less need for agency support.

Brand automation will go further than producing assets based on data sources and data sets without manual set up or intervention. It will bridge to marketing automation and evolution of CRM to enable smarter, more tailored and personalised branding.

In Summary

As we head into 2020, Brands should take the opportunity to Think 2030 and work back. Today’s consumer dynamics will evolve further and more rapidly. An empowered customer will drive greater change.

We are in the middle of the ‘human to machine leap” which for brands and marketers means more change. In-fact not just change, but constant change. 2020 will see ‘constant change’ become embedded as the new normal.

Brands are already on a path to become more responsive, more agile and more automated. Shifts towards more scientifically executed strategies, that make the most of available intelligence, will allow Brands to more effectively hyper-focus on the customer. And let’s not forget, the new ‘smart-centric’ nature of Industry 4.0 will fast become the new paradigm shift across all sectors.