From brand and digital to design and localization, here are the top global marketing trends you need to know for 2020.

BRAND

In 2019, the climate emergency finally took center stage. “Sustainability” became a hot topic as brands took steps to align with changing consumer values and better accommodate the “circular economy.”

In June, Unilever announced it would dispose of brands that didn’t “stand for something.” They must start defining themselves in terms of their positive impact on society and the planet.

Unilever isn’t alone. 2020 will be an even stronger year for cause-related marketing. The triple bottom line ethos of People, Planet, and Profit has become a priority for many businesses, with the focus on Planet gaining a lot of traction.

91% of global consumers will switch to a brand that supports a good cause. And brand causes must stack up, or they’ll be accused of woke-washing or greenwashing. They could even find themselves on the wrong end of a lawsuit.

Take WeWork’s commitment to “elevate the world’s consciousness” – arguably more baffling than inspirational. UK takeout delivery company Deliveroo’s support of midwives “as the best delivery service in the country” fell flat, too – especially given the workers’ rights issues dogging the company.

Brands also need to look after their people. So this leads to another 2020 trend: the continued rise of the employer brand. And a prediction we’ll see more brands aspiring to awards like Investors in People, Great Places to Work, and B Corp certification.

Changes in recruitment patterns – including social media – have put the employer value proposition firmly in the spotlight. After all, currently 70% of the global workforce isn’t looking for a new job. To attract (and engage) the best people, companies need a compelling offer that goes beyond compensation.

DIGITAL

Last year’s trends covered the impact of Google’s transition from search engine to answer engine. It’s a global marketing trend that’s continued in 2019 – and one digital marketers will have to tackle in 2020.

In June 2019, the number of zero-click searches passed the 50% mark for the first time. This means the majority of Google users don’t click on any links (paid or organic) after searching.

Why’s the number going up? Over the years, Google has introduced a variety of search results, like knowledge maps and featured snippets. It’s now prioritizing its own content over other sources – and not just Maps and Images. Users can watch videos, find hotels, follow sports results, and (as of December 2019) track packages without leaving the SERP.

This new information is starving third-party sites of clicks – brands like Expedia and TripAdvisor are particularly struggling.

In other words, Google’s becoming a direct competitor. Already around 14% of all clicks go back to Google’s own properties. Is the trend following in the footsteps of Chinese search giant Baidu? Their rich snippets can take up to 70% of the space on page one. That leaves little room for even high-ranking websites.

Chinese consumers also often skip search engines and go straight to virtual marketplaces. This trend is already spreading elsewhere. In the US, the majority of product searches now start on Amazon.

So how can you boost your visibility in 2020? Here are some starting points:

  1. Optimize relevant content for zero-click searchers. Think featured snippets, CTR optimization, and the Google knowledge graph.
  2. Review brand visibility on all relevant sources – including social media and marketplaces, which are often imported into the SERP.
  3. Consider paid media to nudge awareness and post-search behavior on specific keywords.

DESIGN

Design trends move fast – they always have. Here are a few we’re expecting to see more of in 2020:

Layout

With a huge range of templates available, competition for attention is fierce. Designers are breaking boundaries in a quest for viewers’ elusive attention.

Typography

Think bold fonts and independent text. Some brands are relying on type to the exclusion of all else.

Color

Metallic finishes are gaining traction. They work well with minimalist designs, while conveying luxury and good taste. Duotones will be used increasingly to simplify images and focus attention on content.

Of course, perceptions of design trends are deeply influenced by culture. Color associations, information density, and image choices are just the start. The best approach is to combine creative design know-how with local market insights.

LAYOUT

TYPOGRAPHY

COLOR

LOCALIZATION

The rapid rise of the Chinese economy has made China a firm localization priority for many brands. The advance of India and other emerging markets means we’re likely to see a further shift in language sets in the 2020s.

However, our predictions for 2020 are more closely related to factors that haven’t changed.

1. Localization shouldn’t be an afterthought

Localizing product or marketing content late in the development cycle can be challenging because late-stage changes are difficult to manage. Planning for internationalization from the start significantly reduces both localization cost and time to market.

2. Businesses need partners, not vendors

The localization industry runs on efficiency: accurate translations, competitive pricing, on-time delivery. But efficiency alone isn’t enough to solve the challenges businesses face when going global.

Companies need a partnership that goes far beyond delivering efficient translations. When localization is carried out thoughtfully, in the context of your business and marketing goals, you’ll have not only a more effective end product, but a cost-effective investment in your long-term international growth.

3. Localization should demonstrate ROI

Business leaders don’t care about the number of words translated. They care about results. Yet the localization industry is more likely to report on words, deadlines, and accuracy.

ROI is especially important when it comes to marketing localization. True ROI means that sales and brand awareness at the local level directly drive international growth. Without this mindset, it will be difficult for brands to make the case for localization investment.

FINAL THOUGHT

The main takeaways going into 2020? Corporate social responsibility and purpose-driven business practices are increasingly important to consumers. Account for zero-click search in your optimization strategy. Combine creative design know-how with local market insights. And look for a localization partner who knows how to blend marketing and localization best practices.

Need help with a new project, or have a global marketing idea for 2020 you want to bounce off us? We’d love to hear from you. Get in touch.