Not another trends article… Reflections on social and shopping in 2020

We know your inboxes will be flooded with the 2020 predictions about the trends to watch in your market and we feel your pain! At LL+R we’re all feeling less sure about predictions these days: I don’t know what might happen tomorrow let alone next year… 

But we wanted to share our thoughts on a couple of things we’ve been noticing lately, in social or other places of inspiration, and a few thoughts on things we anticipate ahead. Less groundbreaking stuff maybe, but perhaps more likely things to hang your Christmas paper hats on. Here goes… 


1. Keeping our money where our mouth is…? Ethics & the economy


If 2020 brings an economic downturn, as expected by many, as the post-election shine fades and we work towards leaving the EU, this may well call our growing green values and ethical consumerism into question. 

We recently got our regular does of breakfast inspiration at a Trajectory trends briefing, where the lessons of the past show our consumer moral ideals can take a dent in times of belt-tightening. Previous analysis shows a shift towards more insular behaviours and less ability to worry about the wider world. Should wages fall, unemployment and costs rise as Brexit comes into being, it’s a fair bet we’ll see negative impacts on our environmental concern. 

But is it all doom and gloom for our responsible consumerism? Or will our way of supporting green issues adapt and strengthen some established trends we’ve become used to? We anticipate a few things like…  

  • Our love of leisure and the experiences will be protected and prioritised over ‘stuff’, preserving this love of playtime we’ve seen in recent times. The past shows reason to believe in this, as the experience economy fared well in the last recession. ONS data shows spend on restaurants and hotels rebounded faster than any other area after the last recession.
  • We reconcile our love of leisure with our strengthened ethical beliefs. It’s a safe bet that we see travel become increasingly domestic as we both signal our responsible carbon footprint and protect our precarious bank balances from the anticipated Brexit impacts on the cost of venturing abroad.
  • We remain keen diners out or ‘delivered-to’ but strengthen our ethical menu scrutiny and continued focus on the ‘what’ and ‘how’ we consume. As health, environmental and economic concerns converge, we expect growth in meat-free eating to continue; local sourcing to increasingly be prioritised; with minimal/green packaging sought and the shift to sobriety/responsible drinking to build.  We’re already seeing some of these shifts in the drinks hospitality and retail sectors, with growth in demand for cans over bottles (yes, wine in a can!) and refillable options. These interests fit well with our pursuit of craft products (e.g. beer, spirits, wine) and going to the source of the local/artisanal, while also being adopted by high street brands. Waitrose has piloted a refillable offer and we expect to see this grow.
  • We shift from ‘new/fast’ to ‘old/craft’ consumption and preserve. Our recent work on unpacking the meaning of green and sustainable consumption show reason to believe that buying pre-loved, swapping and exchanging goods or renting instead of buying will grow; alongside investment in preserving or adapting (crafting, upcycling etc.).  This considered consumption offers a way to reconcile our ‘wants and needs’ for stuff with our ethics. We’ve seen the emergence of apps such as Depop (positioned as “the new way to shop” and a community marketplace for the creatively minded) and wardrobe renting emerge, with the likes of Hurr. Swap-shopping is also embraced with numerous apps popping up, and teens doing it for themselves at school via initiatives like SwopItUp. All of these offer lots of scope for social signalling and visual opportunities. We’re seeing plenty of showcasing of frugal finds, proud displays of upcycled wares, photos of high-end swap-shops by ‘celebrity’ influencers etc. in social.  Expect to ‘see’ a lot more!


2. Keeping it simple: a continued drive for pairing back & ‘digital decluttering’ 


Another learning from past economically uncertain times is the rise in demand for simplicity.  

For social and digital spaces, we’ve already seen moves in this direction and it seems a fair it’s one to watch for 2020. Earlier this year, long-term tracking from Ipsos Mori showed a decline in access of social media spaces while a (smaller) survey by digital marketing agency Exposure Ninga offers an indicative sense of why this is. Its work suggests the top three reasons are feeling ‘overloaded’, concerns about ‘addiction’ or ‘wasting time’, followed by issues of trust and fake news.

 Ipsos shows Facebook taking the biggest hit in early 2019 while LinkedIn was the only platform to show growth. Exposure Ninga’s survey suggests removing apps from our phones is the leading way we’re simplifying our ‘social’ life. 

Social’s not going away, but we expect to see more self-regulation with the potential convergence with our wellbeing goals. We may see social and apps used for more functional purposes to arrange our ‘real’ lives, and save our ‘social’ activities for the real world. This reinforces the ever-present need for human engagement, as brands know well. 


3. Tis the season for reconnecting with old friends (hello again Pinterest!) 


When you think ‘Pinterest’, you might think of a bit of a social media has-been, the Cinderella to the Instagram leading lady. While clearly not a new space, we think there are reasons to remember Pinterest in 2020 and recognise its multifaceted value. 

Not just a space to engage and sell to consumers it’s also a place to learn about your audience, gain inspiration from them as well as try to offer inspiration to them and become a part of their personal ‘brand’. 

Here are just three reasons we think Pinterest earns princess status: 

  • A place to learn, a lens on life: Pinterest isn’t just about seeking products to buy, it’s about gaining self-inspiration, developing the right feel, look and experience in life. How to dress your Christmas dinner table Skandi style, ideas for decorating the tree or creating a ski lodge vibe in your lounge!  The boards people create reveal the atmosphere of life they seek, in often quite specific contexts. It’s easy to literally see the ideals that will appeal in terms of colours, textures, the tone of life. A rich collage of inspiration to bring into branding, communications styling and potentially product ranges or merchandising. And it’s not just about products or services to ‘sell’. Pinterest gives a lens on the moods, the moments in life. Seasons, occasions; what is motivating on a Monday… It reveals the hard to articulate ideas we might have, the things we might not consciously know about ourselves but express visually in our ‘perfect life’ collages. A mine of inspiration to learn from consumers. It’s also about recommendations: for the best beauty products for frizzy hair, recipes or where to go on a city break. This gives tactical inspiration for product development, for offline channels to reach people through or partnerships to build (e.g. with venues for pop-ups or engaging consumer events).
  • A place for brand, consumer equality, a means to enter their world and community: Pinterest is something of a leveller between consumers and brands. They both create content in the same ways and ‘tell their stories’. Boards are created by harvesting other’s content as much as by adding original posts. And when we get a ‘Re-Pin’ notification it can be an ego boost (the message even congratulates us on ‘having good taste!). This fundamental function of borrowing from others gives brands a route to becoming a part of people’s stories, their vision for the idealised state they’re trying to create of part of the solution to a problem they’re trying to solve. And there’s more… making it into their boards means they’re your ambassadors, potentially in a more authentic way than paid-for influencers. Influencer marketing is, of course, old fashioned word of mouth in the digital age – the communities around Pinterest can offer a ‘truer’ user-endorsement approach. And let’s talk about the communities. Some boards are solitary, others are shared and collaborations. There’s a ready route to these groups as much as to individuals, and you can… Invite them into your community. It’s a two-way street and one that can build a relationship and connection. Borrowing from their ideas, giving the complement of re-pinning a pin to your boards can bring help to cultivate interaction.
  • A place to persuade, a path to the engaged. Pinterest’s value in reaching a primed audience is widely known. People go there to seek inspiration, to plan and research. They’re in ‘consideration mode’ and open to ideas, in a focused way.  They have an appetite for discovery, open to persuasion and there is license to suggest. Pinterest’s own user data indicates a willingness to be sold / suggested. Apparently, almost three-quarters of users state they find branded content helpful. This isn’t always the case in other spaces where branded content can be an interruption. Combined with the potential to craft personal relationships it’s a great tool for reaching in the right way, at the right time, with the right, relevant, content. Pinterest’s addition last year of ‘shopping ads’ and Pinterest Catalogues has helped commercialise the space with apparent strong results. Again, according to the site’s own research, it is “…2.3x more efficient than social platforms, 1.5x more efficient than paid search and 1.1x more efficient than display”.
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