Facebook IQ’s 5 Consumer Predictions for 2020

Opinion: Mobile disruption, voice recognition, AR, VR—where to focus first?

We're just 25 months away from 2020 Olivier Le Moal/iStock
Headshot of Ann Mack

This time of the year, we tend to imagine the future. We seek out signals of what’s to come so that we can set ourselves and our businesses up for success.

At Facebook IQ, we launched the Shifts for 2020 series to bring these trends to light and help you understand how to turn them into opportunities.

Here’s a rundown of some of our key predictions for 2020 and beyond.

  1. People will expand their ideas of identity: From gender to global citizenship, society’s traditional boundaries are collapsing at the touch of technology. For instance, we’re seeing people broaden their sense of national identity by connecting to the greater global community. According to a BBC 14-market survey, one in two people say they identify first and foremost as a global citizen. And with more than 1.2 billion people on Facebook connected to businesses in other countries, this cross-border fluidity is showing up in people’s shopping. With the overturn of traditional boundaries, people will increasingly self-identify in more personalized and complex ways. Whether you choose to rethink your spokespeople or expand your business into a truly global marketplace, your opportunities to connect with people will become as diverse as they are.
  2. New technology will make communication more natural: Expect to see people bypassing the intermediary screens in their lives, experiencing and engaging with the world more authentically and intuitively. The three Vs—video, voice and virtual reality—will power the shift. People are biologically drawn to video—in one biometric analysis of personal mobile feed consumption we conducted in the U.K. and the United Arab Emirates, participants gazed five times longer at videos than at static images on Facebook and Instagram. People will return to speech—the most natural of communication—when interacting with their devices, be that a smart speaker or a connected car. And when we surveyed people across Nigeria, South Korea, the U.K. and the U.S., we found that 68 percent see VR becoming part of everyday life—from test driving a car to trying on makeup. As the three Vs gain in prominence, create such contextual, immersive and intuitive content that the device becomes secondary to the experience.
  3. Mobile will condense people’s paths to purchase: People don’t just scroll faster on mobile—they shop faster, too. Research on U.S. shoppers revealed that people’s shopping journeys were 13 percent shorter on mobile than on computers. As the consumer journey condenses, the moment of discovery and moment of purchase will become one and the same. And people will increasingly depend on messaging applications to connect with businesses instantaneously. Among people who message businesses, 53 percent say they’re more likely to shop with a business they can message. Shoppers will enjoy faster, friction-free experiences. And if you offer these experiences, you could unlock more conversions thanks to an accelerated consumer journey.
  4. Mobile will bring billions of people online: By 2020, more than one-half of the world will be connected to the internet. And many of these people, especially those from emerging markets, will access the internet primarily, if not solely, through their mobile devices. This new generation of connected people highly value their connectivity. For instance, across Sub-Saharan Africa, many people experience spotty network coverage and pay a premium for data. However, our research across Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa revealed that people find creative ways to connect, enabling 77 percent to access the internet daily. Consider the ebb and flow of people’s connectivity in emerging markets and create content for varied contexts. For example, leverage data-light formats for the morning commute and video for when people have WiFi at work.
  5. Devices will work harder so people can live smarter: For years, we’ve talked about the smart refrigerator that orders a carton of milk just as ours is about to expire. It seems that this vision for the Internet of Things is finally arriving. The IoT will give back the gift of time by taking care of mundane tasks and adding ease and speed to peoples’ lives. And interestingly, people will embrace different smart technologies based on their cultural and geographic needs. For instance, a nine-market Ofcom study uncovered that Italians are 1.44 times more likely to have a smart appliance, while Spaniards are 1.3 times more likely to have a smart sound system. Consider how you can create products, platforms or experiences that fit within the emerging IoT ecosystem and streamline and add value to people’s lives.

We’re just 25 months away from 2020, which means that there’s never been a better moment than now to start preparing for it. Explore all 20 shifts on Facebook IQ and discover what they mean for your marketing.

Ann Mack is director of insights marketing at Facebook IQ.

@annmack Ann Mack is the director of insights marketing at Facebook, where she oversees Facebook IQ.