Opinion: 20 gaps that marketers can bridge in 2020

The author states that brands need to step up and participate in solving real problems rather than participating and riding on them on social media

Jan 20, 2020 09:53:00 AM | Article | Anjali Malthankar

The role of brands in 2020 will have to go beyond selling, entertaining and CSR. The world needs brands to step up and participate in solving the real problems and not just be opportunists and ride on them on social media. 
Here is the list of 20 needs which are born through four key catalysts - digital, politics, earth and gender.
1. Feed the curious: People are hungry to know more in every way possible. Everyone is trying to keep up with tech, news and the future.
Brand Implication – Help consumers keep up in every way. Brands of all categories that feed the curiosity with respect to their category will see more engagement
2. Colour the world green: Green is the colour of 2020. Consumers will listen to the brands which will talk green and walk green.
Brand Implication – Brands which don’t participate in the eco talk, by default will be perceived as brands which don’t care for the earth.  
3. ‘Positive’ is oxygen: Positive is luxury, negative is reality. Digital media world is getting toxic. People are ‘over exposed’ to each other. This calls for any material/content/product which can bring positivity.
Brand Implication – Responsibility of people’s mental health will not only be limited to medical and pharma brands.
4. Don’t be politically correct: Politics has entered everything -friendships, families, offices and marriages.  Brands can no longer ignore, having a POV on political issues. Brands which are open, transparent and honest about their views will be seen as brave, real and honest.  Consumers are rejecting even celebrities who don’t have POV and trying to play safe.
Brand Implication- Don’t play safe.
5. Dark social: ‘Serve me’ different from the others. Consumers want customisation. They want the world of brands/services/content to be made just for them.  
Brand Implication – Give them individual versions of the brand. Brands will have two messages, the message which they want the world to talk about and the individual messages which are customised.
6. Make it the ‘Woman’s World’:  World is ready to be the ‘woman’s world’. That’s the need. Brands have always projected progressive society and hence the opportunity.
Brand implication - Brands have a huge opportunity to play a crucial role in making the next decade the Woman’s World!
7. The purposeful Alpha: The Greta Thunberg effect is very empowering. 2020 will see a lot of young ones leading bigger agendas, inspiring all generations.
Brand Implication – The young leaders will need brands to give them platforms to lead various conversations.  The new influencers will be younger gen (Alpha).
8. Help everyone, travel the world:  Everyone wants to see the world. Travel is on everyone’s agenda.  It is not a part of just bucket lists, for a select few, or travel enthusiasts. It is mainstream. Consumers want all brands to remember their travel plans and help them with the same. The maximum searches in Nov 2019 with respect to 2020 were holiday calendars. To plan their travel calendars?
Brand Implication – Brands from any category can be their travel buddy – whether you are a baby diaper brand or an adult diaper brand, all can travel with the consumers.
9. Break LGBTQ stereotyping: Help the society get more comfortable and inclusive. The agenda for this should be driven by brands. Brands need to push the envelope on breaking the stereotypical portrayal of LGBTQ.
Brand Implication – Don’t limit LGBTQ as part of only inclusivity message but as a new normal milieu.
10. Don’t manage company reputation. Manage sentiment. CRM will be all about CSM (consumer sentiment management).
Brand Implication - Consumers are not expecting brands to solve all problems online but at least manage the emotions.
11. The seniors are back: 2020 will mark the new type of senior citizens. Healthier, digital/smartphone savvy senior citizens with purchasing power.
Brand Implication – Brands which can tap into the senior consumers will win more hearts.
12. Data pollution is the new crisis: With fake news factories mushrooming and social media scene becoming more mainstream than traditional media, data pollution is the new crisis.
Brand Implication – Brands will have to run data pollution cleaning drives/campaigns.
13. Help people make the world a better place: Theworld wants to become kinder. Digital has brought out the ‘giver’ in everyone. People have a power of their profile/vote/support for any cause they wish to indulge in.
Brand Implication – Give them something meaningful to do, even if it is an armchair support to a cause. Use them to make the world a better place.
14. Second innings of career will be common: These will not be limited to mothers joining work after a break, these could be individuals changing their career choices completely, or retired seniors joining work. All sorts of comebacks will need support. 
Brand Implication – Brands, are you listening?
15. Definitions of luxury will change:  Green, water, clean air will be the new luxury, replacing bath ware, marble flooring and posh amenities.
Brand Implication – Brands need to offer and celebrate these luxuries.
16. The profile gap between metro and small-town audience is increasing despite both using similar smartphones and tech. One size does not fit all when it comes to content, brands and influencers. Digital is getting more regional.
Brand Implication – Brands need micro strategies to deal with the regions.
17. Everyone needs help with TMA (Time Management Administration): Anything that will help people manage life better. There is too much happening in their lives. Multi-tasking, multimedia and multiscreen.
Brand Implication – Brands which help manage time/life-balance will stay
18. Time to BBF (Bring Back Friends):  A lot of people have lost friends on social media due to expressing support or no support on various political topics. 
Brand Implication – Brands can play a huge role in healing the relationships which are suffering from social media outrage due to political differences.
19. Be careful with religious cues in advertising: Advertising can no longer afford to use religion to cue culture without enough critical approvals, because the brands depicting any religion will have to go through a troll scrutiny. 
Brand Implication – Give consumers a new religion to latch onto. Create a new one.
20. Get them ready for the next decade:  This is on everyone’s agenda. Brands which will prepare them for the next decade will be the ones which will stay with them in the next decade.
Brand Implication – What’s your next decade strategy?
(The author is national strategy director, Tonic Worldwide. She also heads Gipsi, the 'HI +AI ' Insights Division of the agency.)