Author: Noelle Weaver, Managing Partner, US at Foresight Factory

Let’s talk about sex.

(Did I get your attention there?)

Indeed, sex looks set to become a key topic of conversation in 2020. At CES last month, sex tech products were presented for the first time, highlighting how intimacy is finally moving out of the bedroom and into the mainstream.

This is just one theme Foresight Factory is exploring in our annual Trending 2020 report, which shines a spotlight on the 10 trends we believe are going to shape the consumer experience in the year to come – from climate concerns to ownership-lite living. The ideas aim to provide brands and key decision makers with critical consumer-focused insights aimed at solving their business challenges and enabling them to act with clarity and conviction.

So, what will be the most disruptive trends in 2020?


1. Synthetic Society

Did you know that by the end of 2019, the Impossible Whopper was available in over 7,000 Burger King stores across the US? In this health- and eco-aware era, consumers are keen to experiment with guilt-free imitations of everyday products and activities – from EVs to synthetic alcohol and of course, animal-free burgers.

How to act

Develop viable alternatives that allow consumers to enjoy their favourite foods and activities – without the guilt.

2. Sex Positive

Shows like Sex Education are creating water-cooler moments, while companies are creating sexual healthcare products that would not look out of place on bathroom shelves and bedside tables. Is it time for your brand to get in on the act (pun intended)?

How to act

Sex is increasingly seen as a key component of wellbeing. Tap into the sex-positive mindset with products and messaging that support healthy sexuality and sexual practices.

3. 360 Rewards

Many consumers question their loyalty daily: would it pay to stay, or should I switch and save? We think it’s high time that brands rethink their loyalty strategies and consider rewarding customer activity beyond spend.

How to act

Retain customers by giving personalised and purposeful rewards. Demonstrate that you know your customer’s individual needs as well the issues they care about. Are environmental or social issues more important to your customer base?

4. Audiophilia

Sound is omnipresent, yet it is too often underutilised as a marcoms medium. But in the attention economy, brands are wising up by harnessing audio-focused strategies – from podcasts to voice commands to sonic branding.  Are you doing enough to make your brand heard?

How to act

Although sonic interventions from brands are often welcomed, they also run the risk of being an annoyance. Give consumers control over your brand’s audio, allowing them to dial it up or down depending on mood and context.

5. Ownership Overhaul

Spotify, Netflix, Amazon Prime… numerous services exist that invite customers to share, rent, stream, pay-as-you-go and subscribe, all of which are disrupting traditional forms of ownership. But while a preference for access over ownership can reduce clutter, it also creates new anxieties.

How to act

Many customers will likely start to feel subscription fatigue, prompting them to ruthlessly cancel contracts deemed to be of less benefit. If your brand offers subscriptions, demonstrate why they are favourable to your competitors’.

6. Acclimatise Now

From bushfires in Australia to hurricanes in Florida, climate change is manifesting in new and visible guises. As awareness grows, we expect climate resilience to increase in importance and value, with products that safeguard consumers’ physical and mental wellbeing – from climate-proof skincare to personal temperature control devices – hitting the shelves.

How to act

Customers expect their favourite brands to offer reliability in all events, so ensure that your back-end processes, physical stores and supply chains can weather the storm.

7. The (Un)paid Economy

From the care of young, sick or elderly family members to emotional labour, unpaid and undervalued work is entering the spotlight. These burdens are far more likely to fall on women’s shoulders, even in dual-income households. But in this day and age, equality is high on the agenda – so expect consumers to start calculating their contributions to relationships and households, and to demand that unpaid labour receives the recognition it deserves.

How to act

Unpaid work lies at the heart of many popular corporate values, such as inclusivity and equality. Show you have a deeper understanding of these values by acknowledging the unpaid work customers undertake, and the pressure it creates on wellbeing and wallets.

8. Micro Moments

Snacking is a popular consumer behaviour – and not just in the food sector. From daycations to micro-dating, consumers are looking for bite-sized activities that can be easily slotted into schedules, or that help turn dead time into pockets of productivity.

How to act

Capitalise on the graze mentality by demonstrating how your offering can be enjoyed in under five minutes, two bites etc. to encourage potential customers to buy/watch/use.

9. The Stakeholder Customer

Customers want to be treated like active stakeholders by brands, with the power to co-create and ultimately determine commercial offerings. In 2020, expect brands to democratise creativity and decision-making with new brand-customer collab centres, beta tester groups, customer board meetings, open office/factory tour events and more.

How to act

Stand out from the competition by stressing how integral end-users – with real-world requirements and evolving needs – are to your brand’s processes. Your brand is ultimately at the wheel, but put your customers up front in the passenger seat.

10. Meta Messaging

Simply put, brands are getting weird, disarming the consumer with counter-intuitive collaborations; the liberal use of internet speak and memes; and sometimes ambiguous or bizarre messaging. This is targeted at culturally dexterous digital natives such as Gen Z, for whom communication is often a messy splicing of cultural cues, channels and genres.

How to act

This trend doesn’t exist without internet culture, so ensure that your brand is fluent on platforms like TikTok, with sufficient knowledge of the unique language and tropes of each channel.


Why do these trends matter now?

Trends are rich in strategic value, helping brands to identify shifts in consumer behaviour as well as helping companies identify future growth opportunities and eliminate risk. If you want to find out more about the above trends, download a preview here, or the full report is now available for Foresight Factory clients.

This article was first published on LinkedIn.

About Foresight Factory

Foresight Factory is a global consumer trends platform and data experts. The team of professionals identify consumer trends and provide 24/7 access to trends and data that gives companies the answers to their strategic challenges.

The company works with over 250 global clients to select and prioritise the right trends that will deliver maximum growth.

Foresight Factory’s proprietary algorithms crunch millions of data points across sectors, audiences and markets and provide recommendations on how to act.

Foresight Factory also works with clients on a consultancy basis, undertaking custom projects to help answer complex questions and stay ahead. 

Download the Trending 2020 Report

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