Future-gazing…consumer trends beyond Covid-19

28 April 2020

Pre-occupied (understandably) with all thoughts of the next few months, future gazing is not something most of us are feeling particularly optimistic about. What if we shift that focus though, and instead of looking months into the future, we look 10 years ahead. What will the PR and marketing landscape look like in 2030, and what will the consumer be demanding from brands? Somehow thinking 10 years ahead is less daunting than just looking at the next three months. A breath of fresh air and some exciting developments are set to shape the years ahead of us.

It has been remarkably easy to digitalise our lives over the past few weeks, but is this necessarily a trend we should adopt going forward? Museum tours and live web cams at zoos have made many places far more accessible to the general public. But do we create a personal connection with exhibitions and shows we have only experienced online?

For some the answer will be yes. Brands opening-up content and making previously paid-for events open to those who may never have otherwise had the chance to visit, either due to cost or distance, have conjured up warm feelings for many during the pandemic. Although there’s hope that much of this content will remain widely available, and continue to grow over the next decade, we can also expect a repercussion. With loneliness set to be a trend dominating the next 10 years, it is more important than ever to ensure brands are not overly reliant on online communication with their audience.

Mintel predicts a backlash against ‘phygital’ (physical-digital) environments by 2030, and it’s not surprising. Lured in by the technology and ease of unmanned shops, our interactions with other humans, and particularly strangers are going to decrease rapidly. We can expect to see greater importance placed on ‘shutting down’ and ‘switching off’ as we crave ‘real’ experiences. Brands will be challenged to deliver a point of differentiation.

They will need to be digitally accessible, but also to stand-out in consumers’ minds, they will need to create a personal connection. Much of that will need to be done through real experiences. Customer service has been a prime example of how we prefer to speak to someone than an answer machine, and that a problem resolved by a helpful person can totally shift brand perception. Whether it is delivering a personalised in-store shopper experience, creating an incredible pop-up that makes people laugh, smile, and share or simply a brilliant delivery process – brands that go the extra mile will win.

It is also going to become increasingly important to shift our perceptions of target audiences. For example, cinemas that only market to those they deem able to visit the cinema may be missing out on a whole new co-hort. If the cinema experience can be brought to the home, they will have a captive audience in both new parents, and the older generation who may be unable to leave their home. Traditional age and gender boundaries are being challenged, and to ensure they remain relevant brands need to be as forward thinking as possible. No more 2.4 children white only advertising, and this applies to influencers too. Today’s teens are embracing gender fluidity and a wealth of new identities with great ease and big voices. Brands that do not respect or reflect these changes will be left behind.

Beyond this, there is the massive issue of the environment, and our fast paced ‘throw-away’ lifestyles which we’ve already seen take centre stage. We can expect this to continue, and whilst we know many brands are already responding to this, it will become more important than ever as we actively seek products that last, have little environmental impact and ‘do-good’. The next decade will bring a fresh wave of thinking, and indeed a lot more opportunity for brands to shine.

*Mintel 2030 Global Consumer Trends report

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