2020 Brand Trends



Brand Trends 2020 explores how brands and their marketers must adjust to continually changing consumer dynamics. Networked markets and platform brands have driven disruptive, digital first strategies to reach audiences. Customer experience (CX) has been central to success, with many brands demonstrating fearlessness to push boundaries to better meet customer needs. These brands have been rewarded not only with commercial success, but with increasing levels of brand trust.

The customer is firmly 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 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 our Top 7 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.


2. Disintermediation and intermediation drive D2C and C2C

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.

2020 Brand Trends will continue to see going ‘Direct to Consumer’ to accelerate across many sectors. Successful brands will benefit from closer relationships with customers and cost efficiencies. 2020 Brand Trends will give further impetus to ‘Consumer to Consumer’ (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 influence product development requiring brands to be more agile, responsive and tailored.



3. Further Brand Disloyalty

Customer ‘disloyalty’ is the new norm, driving 2020 Brand Trends towards higher levels of brand switching. 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’. 2020 Brand Trends switching propensity is highest in Asia and Middle East at around 45%, with consumers in US and EU somewhat less at around 36%. Nielsen’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 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. 


4. Rise of Voice Tech

2020 Brand Trends highlights that voice search is here, and it’s here to stay. With voice-based shopping expected to jump to $40 billion in 2022, brands will sharpen their voice and audio strategies. 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. As one of the biggest transformations, early adopters will benefit most through 2020 and beyond.


5. Added 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 hyper-focus. Brands will continue embedding tools 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. So, at a time of greater brand automation, 2020 Brand Trends identify that the human aspects of brands will become increasingly important, if not vital to overall 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 Trust Graph


6. Scaling of 5G

After years of hype about 5G and speeds that will let you download full-length movies in mere seconds, 5G became a reality in 2019. Existing smartphones can’t catch a 5G signal. To hit download speeds of 1 Gbps requires new devices. There are currently only half-a-dozen 5G-capable smartphones on the market including Samsung’s Galaxy S10 5G. 2020 will start to see all the main handset brands go all in with 5G – the latest reports suggest Apple will support 5G in its flagship iPhone models in 2020.

New smartphone devices will be the first place most people experience 5G because they have become the anchor point of our connected lives. However, this is about to change. Lower latency will make augmented reality and virtual reality more useful. AR glasses and VR headsets haven’t yet made the mainstream, but tech companies believe that these devices will eventually replace our smartphones. With 5G, that could actually happen because 5G enables Industry 4.0, with its’ connected PCs, IoT products, AR/VR devices. 2020 will be the year these all emerge into the mainstream.


7. Branding Automation and Design Systems

2020 Brand Trends will see 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 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 without manual set up or intervention. It will bridge to marketing automation and evolution of CRM to enable smarter, more tailored and personalised branding.

There will be an acceleration in the development and deployment of design systems. 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.

In Summary

Brands are already on a path to becoming more responsive, more agile and more automated. 2020 Brand Trends towards more scientifically executed strategies will accelerate, making the most of all available intelligence to hyper-focus on the customer. 

With the ‘smart-centric’ nature of Industry 4.0 fast becoming the next paradigm shift across all sectors, consumer dynamics will evolve further and more rapidly than we have known. The empowered customer will demand ‘new’ and ‘better’, creating an environment where ‘constant change’ becomes the new market norm for brands. Recognising we are still nearer the beginning of the ‘human to machine leap’, 2020 will see many brands planning further out and becoming more future focussed.


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