Insights from 4A’s Research | Top Consumer Trends for 2020

By Christine Pelosi, Information Specialist, 4A’s Research, [email protected].


The start of a new year brings reflection on the past and a look towards the future, making it just the right time to predict what trends will make an impact. Read on for the seven trends we predict will be big in 2020.

Consumer Experience

In the new year, customer experience will be a competitive advantage for brands who have successfully incorporated it into their marketing strategy. Consumers expect to receive a more customized experience and are willing to share personal data to get it. In trade they want the following:

  • Personalization
  • Expert service and support
  • Product availability
  • Convenience
  • Seamless experience.

Forrester agrees that customer experience will flourish in the new year. Its Predictions 2020 report states “innovative, customer-delighting experiences to come to market that combine technology, creativity, and deep customer understanding.” Forrester predicts that companies who don’t focus on customer experience will face the consequences: customers will take their loyalties elsewhere.

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Micro-influencers Will Reign

Consumer trust in influencers is decreasing, but micro-influencers will continue to have an impact. Micro-influencers feel like close friends and are authentic people who have connections with specific brands, as well as a social media following.

The benefits for brands working with micro-influencers include access to a niche market audience, high consumer trust, approachability, less expense, and higher engagement rates.

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Conscious Consumption Starts with You

Sustainability is impacting buying decisions as consumers become more conscious of the amount of waste they create.

The secondhand apparel market and rental services are growing rapidly. Trends in plant-based eating, zero-waste grocery stores, reusable packaging, and cutting back on air travel all show that consumers are taking on the responsibility of changing their own habits to effect change, instead of looking toward brands and companies to do so.

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The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) went into effect Jan 1. Other states are introducing similar privacy laws that will go into effect throughout the year, while some businesses are deciding to apply the CCPA rules nationwide.

Consumers are still willing to give up their data for convenience and better experiences, but they expect companies to protect the data they provide and be transparent with how they use it.

The 4A’s Government Relations team created this great outline on what agencies need to know to successfully navigate CCPA.

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Fight Over “Meat”

Would it be wrong to say that 2019 was the year of plant-based foods? This trend will still be going strong in 2020—Impossible Foods just debuted plant-based pork, Impossible Pork, at CES.

The debate on the actual definition of meat and dairy products and labeling requirements will come to a head in 2020. The debate has been going on for years; we’ve already seen lawsuits from both sides on product labeling in states across the country, as well as Europe. The concern over making sure consumers know the difference between meat/dairy and plant-based will heighten as alternatives become more and more popular, plant-based brands continue to innovate, and restaurants and groceries use it to lure in younger consumers. The outcome will have a huge impact on how brands in this space name and market their products.

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In 2020, we’ll see the rise of burnout: chronic workplace stress that’s not successfully managed. The World Health Organization put the spotlight on burnout last May when it included it in their International Classification of Diseases. The always-on work culture, toxic bosses, bullying, harassment, discrimination, and lack of time for personal lives all contribute to burnout. To help change this burnout culture, the 4A’s teamed up with Made of Millions to open up dialogue between managers and employers on mental health.

Workers will look to brands for solutions to help manage workplace stress. Check out how some brands like WPP Health, Microsoft, and even Ikea are releasing solutions to burnout in creative ways from Trendwatching.

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62% of Gen Z agree they feel lonely on a regular basis, according to Ford’s 2020 Trend report. YouGov found that one in five Millennials say they don’t have any friends.

Technology, specifically excessive social media use, can increase feelings of loneliness and isolation. The rise in single-person households is also a contributing factor. Loneliness impacts a person’s health, both physical and mental, and is an issue across generations.

Exercise, volunteering, sleeping better, even going into the office help alleviate loneliness. This will come off as counterintuitive, but technology can also help combat loneliness. Apps can help bring people with common interests together. There are robotic companions that provide emotional support and even hold conversations. Opportunities exist for brands from a variety of industries to provide solutions to help combat loneliness in innovative ways.

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Check out the 4A’s Consumer Trends and Media Trends sections for more trend reports and predictions.