Top consumer trends for 2020: Sustainability (Part 1 of 3)

The results are in! In 2020, it's the big three consumer trends are sustainability, technology and personalisation.

Yawn! Wasn’t that last year’s big news? Well, yes and no.

Let’s start with sustainability.

Last year a lot of brands and retailers made the right noises and started paying attention, created policies and/or got some initiatives off the ground. But when you read stats like:

74% of British shoppers agree they have become more aware of the environmental impact of plastic packaging over the last 12 months*


60% of under 35s in Britain say their concern for the environment will be more important to them in the next 5-10 years*

or you hear retail experts like Mary Portas state:

"Retailers will need to stop thinking in terms of comparable year-on-year, like-for-like sales because the world has changed. The new metrics are sociability, engagement and perception."

...then you recognise that 2020 is the year when brands and retailers will have to demonstrate their commitment rhetoric by taking tangible action.

Some brands and retailers have already made large-scale commitments. For instance:

  • Ikea has pledged to use only recycled or renewable based plastic in IKEA products by 2030
  • Tesco has committed to becoming a zero-carbon business by 2050
  • Unilever has promised to make 100% of its packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025

So how will brands and retailer make these bold statements happen? The approach has to go beyond 'reduce, reuse, recycle', towards 're-think' or 'remove'.

To rethink, you have to be brave: think outside the box, challenge the “same old” approach, reinvent then take action. Corona’s stacking cans and Burger King's 'The Meltdown' are two creative examples.

If you find the right idea, you'll see that it doesn't necessarily require enormous effort (or investment) to effect enormous change. The Palau Pledge asked tourists to this tiny island nation to sign a pledge promising to protect the environment while visiting. The declaration was given official weight by being stamped in visitors' passports on arrival. The resulting change in behaviour from a relatively simple initiative was astonishing.

This year, the brands and retailers who win the hearts of consumers will be those at the nexus of idea and action.

PS. Look out for Part 2: Technology and what you need to know about it in 2020. Can't wait till then? Get in touch for more consumer insight.

*IGD Shopper Vista

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