Trends, tribes and tolerance: The factors governing audience digital behaviour in 2020

Forward planning for brands and marketers is never an easy proposition and the task is getting more complex year after year. Technology has advanced faster in the last 50 years than all the preceding years of human history put together. This is predicted to happen again in the next 25 years.

In this environment, we need to be able to identify the right technology to invest in and that’s where macro analysis comes in. We have to be able to understand the trends governing audience digital interaction; the social, political and environmental factors that make people want to engage with brands. We need to understand the people themselves, the tribes and demographics which can be analysed to understand communication priorities and technological preference.

Then we can start to look at the technology itself, the armoury we use to tackle the challenges of the digital world.

At DRPG, we aim to understand the macro environment through the overarching trends which influence our audience behaviours and tolerance. In 2019, the big fish in this pond was ‘brand purpose’. Think of this as CSR on steroids and you’re getting close to its power and influence. Essentially, it is a far better concept than CSR to explain the expectations our audiences are placing on business.

More than half of UK consumer behaviour is now driven by brand purpose considerations. The younger generation are expecting purposeful change more than any other demographic with 67% expecting brands to lead on and not react to societal, political and environmental issues.

In 2020, the evolution of brand purpose and its fallout is going to be centred directly on a simple and ancient concept: trust. The reality is employees and consumers do not trust brands to tell the truth. Since 2017, the UK public’s trust in the government, media and business has been in sharp decline.

A whopping 96% of consumers do not trust official messages coming from brands. A total of 64% indicate that they would boycott a brand based on its ethical standpoint. In 2020 our ethical chickens will come home to roost and authenticity, humanity and accessibility will dominate audience needs.

People themselves, our tribes are starting to push back against corporate messaging , just see the backlash against big brands like Barclays co-opting social justice movements. A few years ago people would have smiled and given them a pat on the back. Now people can use the myriad of technologies they have at their disposal to interrogate these ham-fisted attempts to be woke and call them out for what they are: marketeering.

My favourite notion on this subject comes from a brand which is largely beyond reproach in this field, Patagonia. European Marketing Director Alex Weller says “You can’t reverse into Brand Purpose through marketing”. Words for all brands to live by in 2020.

Against this backdrop of complex expectations being driven largely by the millennial and Gen Z audience pool (slightly at odds with the constant assertion that they are the “me, me, me” generation), is what we describe as the technological imperative. We need to take a look at our marketing armoury, the tools we deploy and how they resonate with target markets.

This armoury is set to expand maturely into augmented, virtual and mixed reality marketing in 2020. Machine learning and AI will continue to become a vital space for exploration as voice search hit 20% of all searches towards the end of 2019. New developments in the form of Facebook Horizon, the rise and rise of Decentraland and the opportunities afforded by 5G will be prominent in 2020. But underlying all this progress is the unending battle between audience desire and marketing investment.

Tolerance is the key here. Our audience’s tolerance for sub-standard or antiquated tech deployment is wearing thinner year by year. While brands and marketers squabble over the cost of modernisation, our audience votes with their feet. If they can get better elsewhere, they will go there and we need to be aware of just how quickly they will abandon our efforts as their tolerance threshold is broken.

2020 is the year that this challenge will be more apparent than ever before. Brands can either win the race, keep pace or try to play catch up. The latter rarely works.

Interested in hearing leading global brands discuss subjects like this in person?

Find out more about Digital Marketing World Forum (#DMWF) Europe, London, North America, and Singapore.  

Related Stories

Leave a comment

Alternatively

This will only be used to quickly provide signup information and will not allow us to post to your account or appear on your timeline.