Global Trends 2020

Authenticity is king

Authenticity is the retail and brand trend for the 2020s. Mass retail will need to acknowledge, build and embrace experiential spaces which bridge the digital-physical divide and give customers experiences to remember. Brands will also need to engage, more than ever, with matters bigger than their product benefits.

Discerning consumption is on the rise. Some 78% of consumers globally believe it is possible for a brand to support a good cause and make money at the same time, and there are now significantly more people willing to spend more on brands that act responsibly (59%) than on brands that have an image that appeals to them (45%). Marketers need to ensure that responsibility is at the heart of their communications. Especially for younger people who are significantly more likely than older generations to be willing to put their hands in their pockets to spend more on a brand that acts responsibly.

When it comes to actually buying products most people say that online shopping is better when they know exactly what they want (74% agree). This is aided by online reviews (75% agree – a rise of 8% since 2013), and driven by better deals (72% agree). However, with review-based consumption, brand familiarity and image still matter; people say they trust online recommendations if they are from a well-known site or app (58%).

While revenue in the global e-commerce market is forecast to amount to $2.2 trillion in 2020,51 it will still only account for a 16% share of total global retail sales52 – there is still a large proportion globally that value real-world shopping. This behavioural data is echoed in attitudes. We find that half (48%) of people globally usually visit a store to check out a product before making an online purchase and one-third find online shopping more difficult than shopping in traditional stores. The evidence suggests that shopping outlets are not dying – but they need to change. The rise of instashopping means that we also need to acknowledge the growing popularity of social commerce: 31% of the connected global population now say they do most of their shopping on smartphones.

Brand worship is still widespread, with a majority using a brand as a shortcut to decision-making but is markedly more prevalent in emerging versus established markets. Personal experience with a brand is also important – three-quarters of the global population (73%) are more likely to trust a brand they know. However, nearly three-quarters (70%) think that branding is an excuse to make money. This cognitive polyphasia about brands (holding conflicting ideas at the same time, without conscious dissonance) is enduring: overall people value brands that are helping them save time.

People also value local products, with 70% more likely to buy products that are locally grown than those that are grown elsewhere, increasing to around eight in ten in many emerging markets, suggesting that provenance matters. China is more likely than anywhere else to prefer local brands made in a specific city or region (74%), which implies the origin of products is very important.

Knowing where something came from, how it was made, grown and raised – and increasingly its impact on the planet and our bodies – will continue to grow in prominence in the 2020s, along with trends towards instant gratification, social shopping online, and real-world physical experience.

In Global Trends 2020, instashopping values are close to brand worship and xenophilia (the love of foreign products) on the Global Values Map (see page 28). In the 2020s we will likely see global brands trying to appeal more and more to social media fans and continuing to dominate social-commerce.

The Future of Health

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way people manage their health. It has challenged our medical systems and driven demand for new solutions. However, our data suggests these changes are not new but rather an acceleration of existing trends.