Key 2020 Mobile Trends that Will Impact Brands

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Posted by Luke Zaki on 16 Jan, 2020


In 2019, we saw mobile transform business models and industries at an alarming rate.

Machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) saw a sharp uptake – even as early as February, venture capital investment in AI topped $3 billion USD annually – and our smartphones started to be used not only as tools for communication and entertainment, but as tools for utility too.

The new year is set to continue to disrupt the mobile landscape. In 2020, we will build on existing mobile trends, but the technology will become more sophisticated and smarter as we continue to evaluate how mobile should be used.

As consumers increasingly expect more in terms of digital experiences and personalisation, we take a look at emerging mobile trends that will impact brands this year. Here are our predictions:


Multichannel Brand Interactions

How consumers interact with brands has significantly changed over the last decade. Digital, and in particular mobile, experiences are not exclusive to digital-first businesses any more.

A multichannel strategy has allowed formerly traditionally-run brands, such as Starbucks, to deliver a personalised experience that integrates their offline/online channels.

Starbucks adopted the O2O (offline-to-online) strategy in order to create a seamless experience for its consumers and keep them engaged. A broader retail study done by Accenture, conducted on 750 US consumers, found that 88% of potential buyers browse for a product online first, before trying to buy it at a physical store.

Armed with this knowledge, Starbucks created a multichannel strategy which includes frictionless interactions across the various devices and apps with which users interact with the brand during their digital journey.

According to Altitude Labs, companies with multichannel strategies like these typically retain 89% of customers, which is why Starbucks made mobile and web apps at the core of its digital offering.

Its website, mobile app, and in-store experiences are all linked, with the website even offering tips on how to use the mobile app, and the app allowing consumers to order and then pick up the order in the physical store.


Starbucks mobile app. Image credit: Altitude Labs.

Starbucks has successfully managed to create a unified, multichannel experience. Its digital presence is an extension of its physical store, catering to consumers’ needs for more seamless, convenient, and flexible experiences.

Seven years after the retailer experienced a brutal 28% decline in profit, it is now booming with a mind-blowing 20 consecutive quarters of growth and an annual revenue of $4.9 USD billion.

Providing personalised, multichannel experiences is no longer a nice-to-have in 2020, but a must for brands. This year, multichannel strategies are set to become even more sophisticated, with new modes of interaction, such as chatbots, voice, and even gesture-based, starting to co-exist with web browsers and mobile apps.

Yes, multichannel support requires brands to invest time and resources where they may not have previously, however, customers will feel more satisfied and it will boost brand loyalty and long-term customer retention.


Apps as a Service

Photo by Stephen Frank on Unsplash


We download 175 billion apps annually and out of the 3.1 hours we spend consuming media each day, 2.3 hours are devoted to apps. That’s a lot of app-reciation!

Gartner, however, has predicted a decline in apps and that many brands are finding that their mobile apps are not paying off. The numbers aren’t adding up – so, what gives?

Essentially, what we’re seeing here is referred to as “app fatigue”. Over the last decade, we’ve been living in the golden age of apps, where there truly is an application for everything. The market is oversaturated and users are becoming much more selective about which apps they allow to take up space on their mobiles.

As users become smarter, apps should too. Now, more than ever, consumers expect a truly immersive experience. Brands that aren’t providing this can expect to see their apps abandoned; in 2018, 21% of users abandoned an app after one use because it didn’t fulfill a purpose.

This year, you should ensure your app provides a service and makes it easier for users to interact with the interface. Using Starbucks’ example, its personalised mobile experience remembers user preferences and requires as little human input as possible.

This is why the retailer has the most regularly used rewards app out of a list of major restaurant competitors.


Image source: The Manifest


Starbucks is a success because it has managed to successfully combine easy payment options with its loyalty rewards program. Its app provides a service and it digitally engages users, with eMarketer predicting that this success will likely last until 2022.


ML and AI in 2020

AI and ML have been trending for a few years, so they may not be a completely new revelation, but they’re set to become even more sophisticated in 2020.

The global ML industry will only increase from here, and will be worth almost $9 billion USD in the latter part of 2022.

Aspects of ML and AI, such as natural language processing (NLP), voice-based interaction, and motion sense, will continue to grow and become even more integrated in mobile. Advances in this area have made it easier for us to communicate with the devices around us in a way that is more natural.

We recently explored what a world with zero user interaction might look like. Although this won’t necessarily be a reality in 2020, a world that is less reliant on physical interfaces is well on the way.

The gaming community was the first to introduce gesture control as a way of providing a more natural user experience – for example, the Wii and PlayStation Move. The mobile world is now catching on to this way of device control. You can unlock Samsung’s Galaxy Note10 camera with a wave, and unlock your phone using your face with iPhone’s Face ID.

In 2020, businesses will need to capitalise on this movement to provide more personalised experiences for users that will foster brand loyalty. Domino’s Pizza has already started to eliminate the touchscreen with its Zero-Click Ordering App.

With this app, users can open the app with Siri (“Hey Siri, open Zero Click) and if you already have a Domino’s Pizza Profile and Easy Order, the app will place your order automatically.


Image credit: Tech Crunch

In a world where consumers are expecting more personalised, faster, and easier experiences due to ML and AI, brands need to make the right recommendations at the right time. They can no longer afford to wait for the customer to initiate a search first; businesses will need to have a more proactive approach and anticipate a user’s needs.


Get Ready for 2020

The mobile landscape will continue to change in 2020, being impacted by evolving trends and consumers’ demands for personalised experiences and digital engagement. Every aspect of your mobile strategy will need to be fit for a purpose to drive retention, engagement, and customer loyalty.

It’s no longer enough to have an app, or a website. Businesses need to think of their digital offerings in its entirety and think about the experiences they’re providing to their customers, ensuring their personalised and frictionless.

In summary, the three key trends that businesses will need to be mindful of in 2020 are:

Creating multichannel experiences – don’t look at your digital channels as standalone. They need to work together seamlessly to provide a unified user experience.

Ensuring your app provides a service – app users are becoming increasingly picky about what they have on their phone. It’s a harsh reality but your app will need to provide a service or risk being in the 21 percent of apps that are abandoned after one use.

Embrace ML and AI – aspects of ML and AI have made it possible for businesses to provide more personalised experiences for their end-users. Brands now need to anticipate users’ needs and take a more proactive approach to providing solutions, without users initiating contact first.

Future Platforms has designed a seven-step mobile health check to assess your current mobile solutions to see where there’s room for improvement. We look at your existing offerings and make informed decisions tailored to your unique business needs. Get started with a free consultation today.

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