In the hustle and bustle of wrapping up for 2019 it took me by surprise the first time someone referenced 2020 as ‘the new decade’. It made me stop and think, I am not sure why, it is only another year, but somehow a new decade seemed to magnify the idea that we take stock and review how things have gone and what is to come. Definitely with a feeling of hope we start the new decade and that it will be the best year yet. To help get the year off to a good start we wanted to consider the most relevant small business marketing trends of 2020 that are likely to impact us. Taking a slightly wider review than in previous years (CLICK HERE to read our 7 Essential Small Business 2019 Marketing Trend blog) we consider broader topics such as climate change; advancing technology; global political influences and an ageing population. Things are going to be different for businesses regardless of size.
Reading through our 2019 Marketing Trend blog many of the points are still relevant as we embark on the new decade – those challenges continue to evolve and move forward. For example social media continues change; Artificial Intelligence (AI) is developing and growing and understanding our target audience has never been more important. For this reason it is worth understanding more about our ageing population. The impact of this will be considerable as we see birth rates declining, people working longer, not wanting to do the same thing throughout their careers and striving to be healthier both mentally and physically.
Since the 1950’s, for people living in the UK life expectancy has increased from 69 yrs to 81yrs and by contrast, a child born today has 30% chance to living to the age of 100. As people live longer and healthier lives, this means that traditional life stages will be challenged eg: people living at home for longer because they can’t afford a place of their own; having children later in life; working for longer; etc which will all mean that we need to change the way we need to communicate and do business as a small business owner.
Here are some key trends that will start to impact small businesses over the next year, but certainly as we move into the new decade:
- Making it personal. For some time now the digital world has enabled marketers to become more sophisticated in the way they engage with their customers and this is very much set to continue. As we move forward into 2020 personalisation, based on past behaviour will become more sophisticated, supported by the growth of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Ensuring that tools such as email marketing bases are segmented correctly and social media advertising is targeted will be an important part of the marketing mix for any small business owner. Of course, with this increased personalisation and gathering of individual data the rules and regulations will also need to reflect that. Post the GDPR Act which came into force in May 2018 there is more to come, quite rightly, to protect the individual.
- Putting yourself first. Mental wellbeing has been very well publicised over the last year or so, and growing, with Mental Health Awareness days in May and October, the focus on this in the workplace will only continue. It has been proven that for a business of any size it needs to put the wellbeing of their staff first, no longer is it a nice to have, but it is critical to achieving business objectives and key performance indicators (KPIs). As a small business owner, often you are your business, so you need to ensure you strike the right balance between doing what you love and looking after yourself. Building resilience, mindfully enjoying the work that you do, eating a balanced diet and ensuring you exercise regularly will all be important skills to learn to ensure a sustainable business model and avoid burnout.
- Thinking about the environment. 2019 has seen some very strong messages coming out about the environment, not new messages, but now communicated with some urgency. Examples from the likes of Greta Thunberg at the UN conference in September have sent the much needed message to governments, businesses and individuals that we need to take action now. There is no question as we move into a new decade that the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Policy for all businesses big or small will form part of the customer buyer decision making process. We have already seen the explosion in support for small independent shops arriving in our high streets promoting plastic and packaging free shopping. It is not enough to start charging for plastic bags, we need to speak with our purses and encourage big brands to think and work differently.
- Service with a smile. Many brands are trying to reduce cost by replacing staff with DIY service tills. Think shopping in major supermarkets and on a recent trip to Spain, check-in for a flight through to buying your inflight magazine with a well-known high street retailer. All well and good but often the consumer is left feeling dissatisfied, confused and frustrated throughout the whole experience. Not a good feeling if you wish to try to encourage loyalty and repeat business, things that we know are so important in a sustainable business model. So where are the advantages? It is without question that as a small business owner you can benefit from this shortfall vs the larger, corporate brands, by offering personalised and individual service. Not only playing on the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) side to the messaging but this can absolutely be a strong approach to take in your marketing content. We see that building relationships and human connections with our target audience will become critical to doing successful business.
- Keep learning. One thing I have realised about myself over the last decade is that I love learning. I like to read about what is changing, what is coming up and thinking about what I can learn more about that will further help myself or my clients. For the small business owner this is really important. To keep up to date with changing trends in your industry; changes in the digital world or your customers need and what new products or services your competitors are launching; are just some of the key things to keep an eye on.
- Transparency. Business has evolved from a very different time. With the launch of technology, the norm has been challenged and old ways of working will no longer fit. Customers want to know what lies behind their brands, what makes them tick and what their values are to understand if they align with their own. As we move into a new decade it is not going to be enough to hide behind packaging or traditional ways of working, customers want to see the personality behind an organisation. Crafting clear brand stories and sharing your “why” will also become another key part of the consumer buyer decision making process along-side your CSR policy.
- Nostalgia. We live in some uncertain times and we have seen that to refer back to heritage or consider with rose tinted glasses what “the good old days looked like” is somehow comforting and reassuring. We have seen a number of brands such as Tesco and Bacardi Legacy – play on their heritage and being around for over 100 years in recent marketing campaigns, emotionally connecting them to their target audience.
As we progress forward into the new decade with anticipation, excitement and hope that, despite some political and economic uncertainty, there are exciting times ahead. If you would like some help to kick start your 2020 marketing for your small business, please get in touch.
- BA Business Life Inflight magazine Dec 19/ Jan 20 (Henrietta Thompson – Naked on the piano (Branding Agency); David Mattin – Head of Insights at trendwatching.com; Nicole de Fontaines – Cems.org; Professor Andrew Scott – London Business School and Nicola Mendelsohn – EMEA VP – Facebook – fb.me/grow.
- Neil Patel – 2020 Marketing Trends.
- Marketing Week – The key marketing trends in 2020.