Top Consumer Trends for Marketing Leaders in 2020

December 17, 2019
Contributor: Gloria Omale

Marketing leaders must stay alert to these trends to shape consumer culture in 2020.

Take a minute to look back on the evolution of consumer behavior over the past 10 years. It is not fixed. It changes according to the time and social movements, impacting the way that businesses operate. As a result, marketing leaders are tasked with understanding how and why consumers do what they do, what they do when they’re not buying a product or service, and how they’re dealing with the changing world around them. 

Gartner Consumer Top Trends research captures the most important shifts in consumer behavior, attitude or cultural experience to provide marketers with a valuable meta reading of the consumer zeitgeist going into 2020.

“Our 2020 trends show consumers reconsidering consumerism — the constant acquiring of new goods and services to solve problems both personal and societal,” says Kate Muhl, VP Analyst, Gartner for Marketers. “More than a decade into cause consumption, green purchasing, boycotts, buycotts and the constant promise of novelty, consumers appear to be looking for alternative paths to meet their needs and goals.”

Marketing leaders, especially B2C marketers, should consider the following trends in their 2020 strategic planning to truly understand the modern consumer.

Too late to shop green

As fears about climate change continue to rise, more than half of consumers say they are more concerned about the climate than they were two years ago. “For consumers, the threat of climate change is real and urgent, and they are rallying against contributors to the problem,” says Muhl.

Fifty-nine percent of consumers say that big businesses are the biggest contributors to climate change. As a result, consumers are no longer buying green marketing messages from big businesses that call for consumers to personally make changes. Marketing leaders must tread carefully around green messaging and products to avoid charges of hypocrisy.

“Our 2020 trends show consumers reconsidering consumerism — the constant acquiring of new goods and services to solve problems.”

Rise of the rewatch

Overwhelmed by choice and craving comfort, consumers are embracing repeat experiences like rewatching movies and TV shows. Eighty percent of respondents to the 2019 Gartner Consumer Behaviors and Attitudes Survey say that they regularly rewatch television shows or movies, with 20% doing so daily.

“As exploration-related values decline and consumers embrace repeat experiences, marketing leaders should make strategic and tactical moves that highlight stability and predictability over discovery,” says Muhl.

Socialism shift

Consumer interest in socialism is on the rise. The term “socialism” is polarizing, but underlying ideas often linked with socialism are uniting consumers as they move toward exploring collective solutions to complex problems. To navigate this shift, recognize the divisive political climate within the lives of customers, market to the underlying drivers of why socialism is gaining favor and utilize broadly appealing values in messaging to connect with consumers across ideologies.

Morphing money

Consumers’ concept of money and expectation for control and convenience are in flux, and Gen Z consumers are leading this movement. From app-based payment platforms to cryptocurrencies, Gen Z consumers embrace alternative ways to manage their finances. Fifty-six percent of Gen Z consumers view app-based money transfer platforms such as PayPal and Venmo as equal in importance to bank accounts or cash. Marketing leaders must recognize that this shift is about more than payment preferences, and prepare for consumers who think about money more fluidly

Algorithm hacking

Algorithm hacking is a conscious effort on the part of consumers to manipulate or sabotage the algorithms that institutions and organizations use for efficiency, security or profit in an effort to take back control. Algorithm hacking happens on a grand scale, like the Hong Kong protestors wearing masks to stop facial recognition algorithms, but it can also be as pedestrian as consumers tweaking their social media profiles to change the composition of their news feeds. To address the risks that this behavior presents, marketers must take into account the level of sophistication of their target consumers as well as the larger culture.

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