2020 is set to be a year of renewed optimism in the UK, Zenith believes, as consumers re-focus their time and attention around simplified, realistic and attainable goals and interests.

That’s the essence of the media agency’s latest consumer trends forecast, The View, which also anticipates some Brexit-related disruption to the UK economy in the first half, followed by a bounce back in the second half with adspend continuing to grow across the year.

Consumers, however, are far more confident about their own household finances than the general economy and are consequently more focused on saving than spending; a sense of insecurity is leading people to take greater responsibility for organising their finances.

That attitude, along with greater awareness of issues around inclusivity and mental health, feeds into the trends that Zenith highlights.

Renewed passions: consumers are spending more quality time with things that matter

Consumers are optimising their indulgences (less drinking, finding more sustainable products), working harder to take longer holiday breaks and escape from professional pressure, and giving a renewed priority to mental health and self-care.

• Indulgence optimising: With more and more people embracing sustainability, it’s projected that the second-hand clothing market is predicted to be 1.5x bigger than fast fashion in 2028.

• Escapism through social activism: Younger demographics looking to escape the strains of everyday life are embracing more fulfilling and meaningful ways of doing this: 68% of British Gen Zers say completing a challenge for a good cause brings them joy.

• Self-care is everywhere: Mental health awareness is leading to a boom in the health and wellness industry with consumers making healthier choices when it comes to food, exercise and medication. The wellness industry in the UK is expected to be worth £22.8bn in 2020.

Easy living: people are looking for guidance and streamlined choices

With a growing array of choices today, consumers are gravitating toward streamlined services, seeking guidance in decision-making and taking refuge in astrology.

• Simplification of choice: In 2020, “peak streamlining” will mean more people invest in subscription boxes and services and turn to curated options to simplify decision-making and maximise convenience. Almost half (46%) of online shoppers have failed to complete a purchase online because there were too many options to choose from.

• Attainable sustainable: Consumers want to be accountable and prefer changes in their lives be little and often rather than infrequent but dramatic shifts. Some 54% of people feel living healthily and sustainably is a major personal priority but only 6% are actually doing so.

• Look to the stars: Consumers are finding newfound trust in astrology and brands are bringing astrology-related propositions to market. A third (31%) of UK adults think there may be some truth to astrology and star signs and searches for “birth chart” have increased 80% since 2014.

Media gets real: consumers want authenticity, safety and seamless connectivity

The rise of devices, the promise of 5G connectivity and the fact that everyone now has a platform to share their stories or their products, means people are seeking out authentic and meaningful experiences.

• Back to reality: Consumers want to see an increase in “authentic” content – particularly that which comes from influencers. Only 22% believe that social media celebrities portray their lives honestly and 61% of consumers don’t think brands are transparent about how they actually use influencers for branding purposes.

• Digital world needs to get its act together: Concerns about the impact of devices, social media and services on individuals’ well-being are growing; 80% of children don’t feel safe on social media.

• Fluid access, thanks to 5G: Buying has become more reliant on seamless connectivity and we’re seeing more and more platforms become directly shoppable. Almost a third (30%) of GB consumers say they’re interested in TV programmes that allow them to directly buy products they see.

Media behaviours diverge between old and young

The report also notes that that while the media & tech landscape has stayed relatively similar since 2016 – with only print losing significant reach – channel access has changed. More time is now spent on internet activities, including time spent on online devices for traditional channels; OOH & digital platforms/devices have gained the most reach/time spent, social media has stayed relatively stable while traditional platforms have lost reach and time.

This much might have been expected, but the last couple of years have also seen a sharp divergence in behaviour between younger and older consumers; shared behaviours are diminishing.

Sourced from Zenith