Newsroom Editor

As the world adapts to life in the new normal, it’s time to go back to the future.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic crisis brought the world to a standstill and before the Black Lives Matter movement swept across the United States in 2020, we began charting the long-term consumer trends that would shape the next decade out to 2030. Little did we know that this analysis would be challenged so quickly.

Now, as brands assess the impact of a seismic year and look to chart a new path to recovery, these trends provide a roadmap for the next decade. Many of these trends in our latest report have been accelerated by the events of 2020—others have been irreparably altered and revised. They are offered as an attempt to grapple with some of the long-term influences that brands must understand and master. In a discipline often obsessed with short-term results and next-quarter thinking, our inaugural consumer vision provides a new perspective on the drivers of long-term, sustainable brand growth.

Our research is based on in-depth interviews with a panel of 20 world-renowned futurists, academics, authors and experts; multiple proprietary consumer surveys from more than 20 countries; a comprehensive technological patent and innovation scan of the next decade; and extensive secondary research and case study analysis. It is essential reading for anyone who hopes to understand consumer behavior and the implications for brands through to 2030.

Here are the three key forces that will shape our future:

Universal activism. In the 2010s, brands were rightly obsessed about meeting consumer needs. But the term ‘consumer’ itself is too narrow a concept. In the 2020s, brands will need to reconceive their customers as activists, driven in their decision-making by a new range of influences and causes, from climate change to data privacy and new definitions of identity. By 2030, more and more consumers will be deploying personal data assistants to manage their relationships with brands, creating a new power paradigm.

Synthetic society. In the 2010s, consumers and brands alike placed a premium on natural, organic products and ways of living. In the 2020s, we’ll see a widespread embrace of synthetic enhancements and virtual experiences that improve our health as well as the way we express emotion and experience pleasure. By 2030, esports and immersive gaming will have changed the way we look at ‘real-world’ sports and activities, forcing the latter to innovate to keep up.

Bigger bolder brands. Over the course of the 2010s, consumers became progressively more empowered, were given more choice and gained an ability to dictate the terms of their engagement with brands. In the 2020s, the focus will shift to how brands can help service consumers more effectively across all aspects of their lifestyle. At the same time, data will enable brands to be more selective in the consumers they choose to engage with, focusing on those segments that will in time be most lucrative. By 2030, we can expect to see consumers selecting specific brands to be their main lifestyle partners, becoming an integral part of their commercial activity and everyday lifestyle.

How can modern marketers cultivate actions proactively?
We’ve proposed a variety of recommendations for brands across each trend in our latest report. As we champion meaningful progress with brands, consumers and communities, we aim to help businesses develop ‘inclusive intelligence’—the ability to incorporate new views, values and behaviors into their value proposition against a backdrop of widening inequality, societal dislocation and ethical complexity. We believe this will be the critical quality for brands to develop if they are going to successfully navigate the forces shaping their future.

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