Audience insights supplier GlobalWebIndex has shared the findings of its research into the trends that will shape consumer behaviour throughout 2020.
Against a backdrop of economic shocks, from the US-China trade war to the German economy’s weak performance in recent quarters, one of the most surprising findings of the Trends 2020 report is the strength of consumer confidence that endures. Consumer confidence has now come full cycle and rests at an all-time high since it fell in 2009 as a result of the economic crash.
In fact, 59 per cent of global Internet users think their personal finances will improve in the next 6 months. However, fewer believe the same of their own country’s economy highlighting a growing feeling among consumers that all is not what it seems in the wider world.
“In particular, Trends 2020 highlights a growing desire among consumers to invest in familiar experiences that bring certainty and comfort,” advises Jason Mander, Chief Research Officer at GlobalWebIndex. “Feelings of nostalgia are currently reported by four in five consumers, with half of those saying they are ‘often’ nostalgic. For brands and media agencies alike, the desire to look backwards rather than forwards, mixed with the echoes of a pre-crash consumer confidence, is certainly a trend to take note of.”
Video audiences hit ‘replay’
Perhaps the most visible ‘nostalgia play’ to land in 2020 will be the rise of new, personalised nostalgic suggestions in online streaming as Disney, HBO and BBC / ITV all add new services to an already hotly-competitive landscape. Almost four in 10 consumers in the US and UK said they’d be willing to pay more for a content streaming service if they knew that exclusive, older content would be added.
Often this is rooted in a trend of consumers feeling most nostalgic about the decade in which they grew up, but that’s not always the case.
Faux nostalgia, or ‘fauxstalgia’, is characterised by a yearning for something in the past that consumers never directly experienced themselves, and Generation Z is particularly fond of this. They were the biggest users of Pokemon Go (48 per cent), jumping on the craze of which they never got to be a part when the game first launched in the ‘90s. Brands and marketers can therefore create cross-generational nostalgia through the same content.
Rediscovering a day at the shops
Much has been said about the high street in recent years, but 73 per cent of online consumers in the UK and US still prefer to shop for clothes in-store. The fact that this figure doesn’t fall below the 70 per cent mark even for our youngest respondents – the digitally-native Gen Z aged 16-22 – illustrates that old-fashioned, offline shopping has a truly cross-demographic appeal.
2020 will likely see the redefinition of the physical retail space into something far more future-proof and leisurely. Features like bars, spa centres and bakeries may navigate their way into stores – already change is currently being led by the likes of Primark and Samsung in the UK and Nordstrom in the US.
For younger shoppers, these are the perfect hangout spots, showing that in reality, so long as brands remain relevant to consumer expectations, the online/offline divide actually disappears. It’s only a matter of time until smaller businesses follow suit.
Heart of social interaction rejuvenated by gaming
Social media could also be on course for a watershed moment in 2020. In the UK and US, the third most common frustration with social media is the lack of actual human connection. Games, on the other hand, are valued for their authenticity and openness.
While the dominant reason to play them is to relieve boredom (60 per cent), the next most important reason is to have fun with people they know (38 per cent), coming ahead of skill progression, competition and even game immersion. Female online gamers in particular are much more likely to say they play online because they feel like they can be their real selves and can do so without needing to worry about being judged.
“The behaviours exhibited by gamers should not be treated in isolation,” suggests Mander. “The desire to connect with other people on a more meaningful level than appearance or age hints to a natural turning point in the digital age. Social media has successfully kindled our desire for shared experiences, but what brands and agencies across the world must now do is reintroduce the unstructured, human environment to let new experiences play out organically.”