As we close the second decade of the 21st century, data and privacy regulation, a pending US election, and economic uncertainty will force marketers to rethink their strategies for managing risk and cost. But don’t think downgrading experiences can be the go-to approach. Consumers will remain relentless as they continue to expect convenience, quality, brand ethics, and authentic brand experiences. In 2020, marketers must continue to meet elevated customer demands even as they reassess marketing costs and effective customer strategies. We predict two major themes will emerge next year:

In 2020 more brands will seek B-Corp certification to signal their purpose-based strategies.

  • Marketers will seek efficiency gains. According to the National Association for Business Economics’ latest survey, 53 professional economic forecasters think a recession is possible before the next US presidential inauguration despite steady economic growth through 2019. Marketers will need to streamline operations by shifting budgets, such as those for agency fees, to more innovative sources for content, like influencer marketing. Cost-conscious marketers will reembrace evolved marketing resource management (MRM) systems to more efficiently manage workflow, budgets, and processes.
  • Disruptive strategies will aim to meet rising customer expectations. Marketing strategies typical of tough times, such as cutting advertising or overpromotion, won’t win with today’s customers. We predict that in 2020, a set of brands will find exceedingly clever ways to drive growth despite an unstable economy and competitive landscape. More brands will follow the likes of Danone and Athleta in seeking B Corp certification to signal authentic commitment to purpose-based strategies. Streaming giant Netflix will redefine advertising by doubling its investment in product placement and creative marketing integrations with brands. And slow-growth brands will revitalize legacy marketing strategies by tapping the skills and technology of the crowded direct-to-consumer space.

Marketers will be stretched and tested in 2020. Their challenge will be to manage costs while identifying new opportunities to stay relevant. To read more, read the 2020 B2C marketing predictions report. To understand the major dynamics that will impact firms across industries, download Forrester’s Predictions 2020 guide.

A big thank-you to Emily Collins, Sarah Dawson, Stephanie Liu, Jim Nail, Joe Stanhope, Rusty Warner, Jim Nail, Ryan Skinner, and Caitlin Wall for their insightful contributions to this report.