Back to the future

It’s time for our annual round-up of trends and predictions for the coming year.

кем Mark Tungate , Adforum

There was a time when it was easier to be positive about the future. “Undersea by rail: ninety minutes from New York to Paris,” sang Donald Fagen in his 1982 song I.G.Y., which also predicted streamlined cities “powered by the sun.”

Admittedly Fagen was being ironic – the song refers to the International Geophysical Year exhibition of 1957, which promised his younger self a perfect future that failed to happen. These days it’s even harder to picture a shiny optimistic destiny for our kind. But we can at least make a few predictions for 2020.

Last year the trends we covered included sustainable brands, digital detox, the challenge of financial inequality and the growing importance of “voice” in media and marketing – all of which seem to have been on the money.

A year of big spending

Talking of money, this is one of those years that has media buyers rubbing their hands. Advertising and sponsorship spend will rise thanks to big sporting events – the UEFA European Football Championships (Euro 2020), the Olympic Games in Tokyo – and of course the US elections.

Our bet is that, as far as the sports events are concerned, there will be a lot more cynicism among audiences due to the accusations of doping, corruption and general excess that surround such occasions.

The other complication is that while ad spend may rise, audiences for traditional media will continue to shrink as more viewers turn to non-commercial platforms.

(Read more here)

Beware of “woke washing”


In 2020 the focus on the Earth and the way our consumption habits impact it will become even sharper. As Accenture’s Fjord Trends report says: “In a world grappling with climate change and constant political and social disruption, people are…demanding products and services that are not only meaningful to them, but also socially and environmentally responsible.”

Dutch airline KLM got ahead of the curve last year with its Fly Responsibly campaign, which challenged frequent travellers to fly less.

(Read the article here)

However, brands that want to follow suit better make a real commitment, or be accused of “woke washing”, a term mentioned in German magazine W&V’s annual trends round-up.

Shopping – and spending – is changing

You may want to consume more responsibly in 2020, but you’re unlikely to stop shopping altogether. And next time you pick up a fashion item, for example, it may not be in a store. A number of sources predict that “shoppable posts” on social media will continue to grow in popularity this year.

(Read here)

Of course you won’t be able to use cash on Instagram – but in any case we’re edging closer to a “cashless society”, with South Korea banishing coins altogether this year. Global management consultancy A.T. Kearney predicts that Sweden will become the first truly cashless society by 2023.

(Read more here)

Influencers evolve

The year ahead is likely to be a rocky one for social media influencers, whose currency is “likes”. Both Instagram and Facebook are beginning to mask public displays of the likes reaped by posts. The idea is to remove the competitive aspect of the platforms, which can undermine self-esteem. According to an article in Fortune, there may be no going back.

(Read here)

Influencers aren’t dead yet, though. Influencer agencies say metrics like audience engagement and click-through rates are more accurate guides of the relationship between posters and followers. Authenticity will become the new currency.

(More here)

W&V, in the article mentioned earlier, warns us to keep an eye on the rising power of “gaming influencers”, as gaming becomes one of the most dominant entertainment media among young consumers.

More AI and AR

Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality have been hot topics for a while now, but sources such as TechRepublic predict that 2020 could see a bump in use of the technologies. That means more facial recognition deployment – in industries ranging from air travel to banking – and entertaining or useful AR applications that turn our mobiles into portals to parallel worlds.

(More on Tech Republic)

For example, here’s Donald Glover – AKA Childish Gambino – interacting with his fans via AR.

Whatever happens in 2020, one thing is certain – the future never works out quite the way you pictured it.