Looking Ahead – A Forecast Of Business In 2020
Recently we reflected on 2019 and the business lessons it taught us. But new trends are already forming, ready to push your professional goals forward. Technology, new demographics and social changes are set to make 2020 a unique landscape for UK business.
We’re putting the spotlight on five of the biggest trends right here. Take note and think about how your business might use them to your advantage over the next 12 months and beyond.
1. User reviews are leading public opinion
As the adage goes, people buy from people. Yet 2020 is extending this phrase – people buy from people they trust.
Celebrity and influencer endorsements no longer hold the same sway as they once did. A 2017 survey by DealSpotr found that 52% of millennials didn’t trust their reviews, saying that they were no longer authentic or honest.
User reviews are taking their place. Regular, everyday people carry more clout than a platformed individual, who may be saying what they’ve been told to say for the highest bidder. 95% of buyers now read online reviews before they hire a service or head to the checkout. Plus, businesses that list themselves on four or more review sites net 36% greater revenue than average.
Business owners should be encouraging as many user reviews as they can. Facebook, listing pages and review sites are the main ways to show them off. You can incentivise your own with reward schemes.
2. Businesses are recognising their role in social change
The 2010s was a turbulent decade. Climate change, tech addiction, migration and conservationism hit headlines around the world. These obstacles can seem overwhelming, but brands are stepping up to help.
Apple advises us on how much screen time we should use. Patagonia has sent £7.9m in aid of environmental groups. LEGO, Walkers and Levi Strauss & Co. have launched their own initiatives, leading the way for water use and wildlife protection.
SMEs and franchises are encouraged to join in. The Telegraph found that “corporate shaming can have tremendous impacts on companies large and small”, while a socially conscious culture can boost employees’ wellbeing.
In 2020, we’re going to see an increase in safe environmental practices. Small, regular charitable donations will be more common. Businesses will draw up and act on CSR programmes, and take time out to focus on local community projects.
3. Remote working will be even more popular
This used to be a privilege. But now – with plenty of discussion around childcare, paternal leave and the work-life balance – remote working has become somewhat expected.
Half of the British workforce is meant to be working remotely by the end of 2020. A 2019 study discovered that 61% of global businesses allow their staff to work from home. The trend has been gaining steam for a while, and employers should do all they can to allow flexibility.
Many staff suit remote working, even for part of their role – like administrators, secretarial staff and marketing professionals. Salespeople and a service team still need to be out on the job, but they can complete admin anywhere with a laptop or mobile device.
The ‘knowledge economy’ increasingly relies on cloud software, which links people and data across large distances. As The Guardian says, consider giving staff a trial period so they can get to grips with the right tools.
4. #MeToo is putting greater focus on gender parity
It’s hard to forget the impact of #MeToo and its seismic unravelling of the abuse of power. The business world, in some cases, has had a wake-up call. Gender equality is right at the front of our national conversation.
The oft-cited BBC stat of a 9% pay gap is enough to spur more businesses to take action. But this is more of an issue than women being paid a lower wage for the same duties as men.
It’s also about the time reserved for maternity absence – something that Nordic countries, especially, have been trying to solve with split parental leave. We’re expecting that more UK brands will take their lead, avoiding putting the brakes on a woman’s career.
Elsewhere, we’ll witness more subsidised childcare from the businesses that can afford it. A push to help women recognise their professional self-worth could also be useful, leading to better negotiated salaries.
5. TikTok and Instagram are the platform of choice for young customers
In 2018, Facebook suffered a hit it might never recover from. The company still has a lot of trust to build back among social media users. Yet while Cambridge Analytica alerted us to the misuse of our personal information, it merely contributed to the drop-off in use we’ve been seeing recently.
Shares and likes are down 20%, mainly among teens and millennials. Gen Z, in particular, have new habits. People born after 1995 rate Twitter and Facebook as their fifth and fourth favourite platforms respectively. Instead, they prefer YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram. Another game-changer, TikTok, took 2019 by storm, claiming 500 million monthly users worldwide by the end of the year.
This will have huge ramifications for advertising. Businesses will be buying more ads on Instagram, as well as filming Stories for consistently high engagement rates. TikTok and Snapchat videos will take up a larger part of their marketing plans, forcing brands to be more creative. If you can put a unique spin on video content, you have a much higher chance of reaching out to 16-25-year-olds.