2020 Marketing trends – Be Honest

David Smith

Written By:
David Smith

Now, the truth is marketers and designers haven’t always been the best at upholding this virtue. For years brands have spent large swathes of their budget on carefully positioning their brand in the mind’s eye of consumers – subliminally telling us that certain perfumes will make you more attractive, specific car brands will create perceived success and that even certain supermarkets will somehow make you a better person.

If we’re honest with ourselves it may have sometimes lacked a feeling of honesty and integrity but that’s the way it always been done right?

Well in recent years attitudes have started to change and as we head into a new decade get ready to start taking a more honest and purposeful approach to the way you market yourself.

This craving for sincerity is not down to marketers suddenly needing to unburden years of pent up guilt – it’s down to the fact that they realise their buyers now have a hunger for transparency. In the light of customers, ever-declining trust in brands traditional marketing tactics are simply being rendered ineffective.

So in 2020, we will need to find new ways to cut through and engage consumers. Now, if your brand can communicate virtuously and demonstrate an honourable purpose you could be perfectly positioned to grow your market share.

Sincerity is now a brand commodity that can be used to create a true point of difference. There’s no one better at following that mantra than the much loved outdoor brand Patagonia. Back in 2011, it was these guys that secured their place in marketing Transparency when a series of press ads that carried a wonderfully simple, flat shot image of a black Patagonia jacket with the shockingly stark message ‘Do not buy this jacket’.

The point it was trying to make was slightly more complex which was ‘Don’t buy this jacket if you don’t need it’ and it became an environmental message of real intent from the brand. Sales figures for that individual jacket weren’t important but it was that campaign that propelled Patagonia into a completely new league which sees them today stand as a $600 million global brand. This level of honesty might seem risky and it’s certainly brave but the correct execution has brought rich rewards for Patagonia.

This way of thinking is a real opportunity for businesses regardless of size and importantly success is not dictated by budgets. Your customer is now actively seeking brands with integrity and social purpose and what’s more, they’re happy to pay for that.

But as ever our articles aren’t just about big global brands. One Cornish brand who talked about their industry with refreshing honesty is Finisterre. While the mainstream surf industry was selling images of women in bikinis on Hawaiian beaches and selling t-shirts and boardshorts to millions; Finisterre made it their mission to talk the cold (literally) hard truth about surfing as a sport in the UK – an entirely contrasting surfing lifestyle to that peddled by the mainstream brands.

As Finisterre cannot compete on marketing resources they’ve changed the category decision making criteria in their favour. They see the massive contradiction in the wasteful and polluting manufacturing used by the huge American surf brands and the ethos of the surfing community to love and protect the natural environment. As a result, they call on their followers to begin to evaluate surf brands based on their ethical consciousness and their attention to technical detail, instead of their celebrity endorsement, ubiquity and scale.

So now as we step into a new decade maybe we’ll finally reach a real point of clarity in the marketing industry. We’ve done some growing up and we’ve certainly learned a thing or two about what consumers want.

Finally, a word of caution – what consumers truly hate is when their expectations and your claims and promises are not met so be careful what you commit to. Cynical attempts to grab market share by jumping on the purpose-driven bandwagon will soon get found out and you’ll be shamed – often publicly.

If you’re looking to discover how to communicate more openly and empathetically then please get in touch, we have an array of tools to help your brand articulate your offer in 2020.