In 2020, PR professionals will see the further evolution of the “woke” and informed consumer.
They are reading more labels (food and otherwise), unearthing the journey their products make from plant/farm to store/table and appreciate transparency within every step of the knowledge-hunting process. Consumers do not expect companies to be perfect (yet), but they must be on the road to improvement.
Sustainability: Brands first, then consumers
Take, for instance, JetBlue’s pledge to become the first carbon-neutral U.S.-based airline. Company officials have mapped out their road to this pledge, being transparent that they’ve contributed to this major issue for the industry, but they are working to remedy the issue.
In doing so, they have put the company’s purpose in the minds of consumers via their CEO, Robin Hayes: “This is part of a long-term commitment we and the industry have to have to reflect the climate reality we are in. … Aviation has a central and important role to play and has to make sure it’s preparing for the new climate we are operating in.”
Gartner noted that consumers are weary of big companies’ encouraging consumers to “go green” and be more sustainable, especially when said big company is not yet making strides toward a more sustainable future.
Gen Z in particular believes companies must do more than just sell goods and services: 90% believe companies must act to help social and environmental issues, and 75% will do research to see whether a company is being honest when it takes a stand on issues, according to the 2019 Porter Novelli/Cone Gen Z Purpose Study.
The year of the planet
From a food and beverage standpoint, The New York Times predicts 2020 will be the year of the planet, with consumers paying even closer attention to the environmental impact of their food, where their food comes from, and how the people and animals were treated in the process. We will continue to see plant-based (common rebrand for “vegan”) menu options pop up at fast-food and fine dining restaurants.
Continuing the good for the planet movement, Well + Good predicts makeup and other beauty products will be more sustainable in 2020, from less packaging to more natural ingredients.
Consumers can be armed with personalized nutrition information (à la 23 and Me) and, in turn, are choosing foods that help fill gaps in their health. The continued rise of “functional foods,” foods for gut health (kimchi, probiotic-infused yogurts, etc.) and other markers allow a path toward holistic health through what you ingest. These foods are like a Swiss Army Knife: They taste good (sometimes), are healthful and can act as medicine from the inside out.
Well + Good notes that tech’s permeation of the health world, with wearables tracking nearly every health marker known to man, affords consumers a more holistic understanding of their health at the touch of a button.
Better for you, without sacrificing fun
According to The New York Times, consumers will be getting “buzzed” on low- to non-alcoholic beverages, called “spirit free,” opting instead for CBD-infused libations and drinks made with adaptogens, plants that may help relieve stress. We’ve seen consumers continue to search for options that are better for you, while not sacrificing taste or experience.
As clients create new products or add to existing lines, PR pros must be the voice of the consumer, ensuring attractive options are included in any new release or extension.
On to 2030 for PR pros
Even further out, a look toward 2030 includes fewer in-person and more digital connections via meetings, office spaces and beyond. Social media is likely to become or even overtake news media as the main source for information. Oh, and learn a little about the newest-titled generation, the “alphas” (born between 2010 and 2025), who come after Gen Z.