SXSW: Facebook shares 5 consumer shifts shaping 2020

by Annie Holman (annie.holman@cjrw.com) 240 views 

Editor’s Note: Annie Holman, Associate Media Director for Little Rock-based CJRW, is spearheading a roundup of daily workshops being attended this week by her team at the SXSW conference in Austin, Texas.
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In the next two years, mobile devices will be in more homes than running water or electricity. Mobile will generate half of U.S. commerce, and 85% of customer interactions will be handled without a human. But if you know where to look, you can find the future all around you, right now — from how people use messaging apps in Southeast Asia to mobile payments in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Tomá Beczak, Global Content Strategist at Facebook IQ, and Ann Mack, Director of Insights Marketing at Facebook IQ, presented five key consumer shifts that will shape the digital world in just 22 months, aka 2020.

The pair broke down the who, what, where, and why behind the shifts and then offered up suggestions for how to prepare for this future. They identified five areas — culture, communication, commerce, connectivity and community — we’ll all want to pay attention to moving forward. And by amazing coincidence, they all start with the same letter. Clearly, the future is looking better already.

First, culture. Traditional boundaries are breaking down right before our eyes, with 56% of people in the U.S. claiming that traditional gender roles are becoming irrelevant. This trend is mostly being driven by Millennials, who by 2020 will make up over half of the global workforce. Among Millennials across four markets, Facebook saw a 15% year-over-year increase in conversions related to gender role blurring. The study also revealed that three-out-of-four women surveyed said the most important thing brands can do to promote gender equality is to stop portraying women as sex symbols. Gender isn’t the only boundary being turned upside down. Across the US, UK, Nigeria and South Korea, 70% say the age you become “old” is increasing.

Communication. Over half the people surveyed for this study cited that they prefer to view video content on mobile devices because it is faster and easier to consume. We know people are consuming content faster than ever, but surprisingly, they are also retaining it more quickly. People can recall content on the Facebook News Feed after seeing it for just 0.25 seconds. And they are looking at video content five times longer than static content on Facebook and Instagram.

For Mack, the most interesting shift in communications is the idea of fluid realities. She quoted Chief Scientist at Oculus VR, “The distinction between VR and AR will vanish… The real and virtual worlds will just mix and match throughout the day, according to our needs.” What does this mean? In the not-so-distant future, these technologies will be so integrated in our lives that, as marketers, these technologies will be used simultaneously and regularly to reach consumers.

In support of this claim, 68% of people surveyed in the US, UK, Nigeria and South Korea say that “Virtual reality will become a part of everyday life,” and 54% said that “VR will mean people never have to miss an important event.” We need to be thinking about how using these technologies can enhance our lives specifically in the industries of travel, retail/CPG, automotive and entertainment.

Next, commerce. With this huge mobile shift, we are looking for commerce experiences that are seamless, speedy, and personalized. Unfortunately, says Mack, the current user experience for mobile commerce is not quite there yet. Companies need to prioritize navigation and user experience when creating their digital shopping experience in order to adapt to this mobile-centric commerce shift.

With this shift, we’re seeing a huge move to messaging apps as a main source of customer service. People expect to ask questions and get immediate and informed responses in one step. The biggest takeaway from this transition is the collapse of the traditional purchase funnel. Think about one-click buying. We’re cutting out so many steps of the funnel that we’re going to see the moment of discovery and the moment of conversion become one seamless step.

Connectivity. It seems like we’re always talking about connection and connecting when it comes to digital media and content. In this case, however, we’re going to bring in technology connectivity. For example, we live in a world where home automation is becoming the norm, and if you’re us, you have multiple smart devices in your home. The issue here is that very rarely do all of your home automation systems communicate or connect with each other.

As a result, people access their smart devices from different sources with different tools, and this is a headache. At this point, the technology is not enhancing lives. It’s too fraught with frustration and effort. The same concept can be applied to mobile apps. Beczak cited that of the people surveyed, their top-three apps account for 80% of their usage. Of those, almost all would prefer their apps be collapsed into one single app. Cue the Mark Zuckerbergs of tomorrow and get ready to simplify your ad budgets. Well, maybe.

In 2020, 60% of the world’s GDP will be owned by emerging markets. In those markets, one in four internet users are already mobile only today. According to the study, by 2020, three billion people will gain access to smartphones. One of the most significant ways people in emerging markets like Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa are using smartphones is to generate additional income, whether it be offering mobile payments for taxi drivers or selling a craft. Think about how life-changing a smartphone can be to someone in these markets. Better yet, imagine life without one.

Community. Living in a connected global community is our reality today, and by 2020 daily life will be even more globalized. Individuals are creating communities in new ways everyday. Beczak highlighted a series of communities that are available through Facebook and how impactful they can be. Globally, there are 750 million new Facebook friendships each day. There are 2.5 million group chats created every day on Messenger. More than 200 million Facebook users are part of meaningful communities or groups.

More than 1.2 billion people on Facebook are connected to a business in another country, including 60% of the U.S. population. More than 360 million people already take part in cross-border e-commerce every year. Communities are no longer bound by borders and oceans and haven’t been for quite some time.

Mack listed three key takeaways to prepare for the consumer world in 2020. First, reimagine familiar frameworks. Meet your customers where they are when they need you. Second, create for context—it’s not just about the content anymore but the situation. And last, make mobile the center of your digital efforts. Think about the role your mobile device plays in your personal life. When will it play that role in your business life? If you’re reading this, it probably already does.

CJRW Digital Content Writer Josh Walker contributed to this report.

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