Nielsen Makes Retailing Predictions

Focus is on technology, credibility, sustainability and local products.

October 24, 2019

ORLANDO, Fla.—Nielsen projects that 2020 will represent an inflection point for trust and transparency, 5G (fifth-generation cellular network technology) and time to purchase in the U.S. retail and consumer landscape. The consumer research organization unveiled its predictions at the Gartner IT Symposium in Orlando.

“We see Nielsen's data and cloud-based technology as important levers that will benefit P&G US as we develop breakthrough analytics and insights to help us better serve billions of consumers around the world,” said John Myers, director, North America analytics and insights, P&G.

Nielsen’s high-level predictions include the following:

Privacy concerns and misinformation will threaten brand credibility. Trust is at a low point in society today, yet consumers still expect brands to know them and cater to them. Privacy legislation would not solve every issue of truth and transparency. Big brands must confront and counteract the consequences of social network attacks, such as activists trying to destroy the credibility of a brand with false charges.

Transparency will be tomorrow’s brand currency. Brands across all industries will have an opportunity to deliver on the consumer expectation of “Healthy for Me & Healthy for We.” Interest in what was once considered ‘behind-the-scenes’ information about a company’s operational footprint will become mainstream topics of conversation. This will tee up opportunities for companies across industries to grow trust and authenticity while delivering on the consumer desire for urgent action on climate change.

Manufacturers will produce locally to win globally. With the winds of protectionism, trade wars, slower overall growth and increasing effects—and awareness—of climate change, the U.S. is entering a new era in consumerism. Manufacturers will face increased pressure to produce locally, import fewer goods and search for economic differentiation. Supply chains will be urged to deliver on consumers’ increasing desire for sustainable products.

Smart supply chains will anticipate and react to consumer demands. As retailers increasingly focus on owning the supply chain from start to finish and further blur the line with manufacturers as they grow their private label brands, the industry will gradually shift to more granular, end-to-end supply chain analytics. Brands and retailers who win the 2020s will succeed not based on their front-end pricing and promotion analytics, but their granularity and end-to-end depth of their data science.

5G (fifth-generation cellular network technology) will revolutionize the internet of things for retail. With 5G, the internet of things finally becomes a mainstream reality, providing end consumers with access to more data with no response delay. They will be able to quickly make informed decisions about the retailers and brands they want to work with. Meanwhile, 5G will transform smart packaging and delivery, through applications like smart sensors that can collect real-time data to ensure viable internal package conditions for food and medications. 

Time and trust will dictate consumer relationships with retail. Increasingly frictionless commerce in both a click and brick world will change the game for retail. From pop-up shops with cashier-less payment to automated warehouses in urban centers, the overall consumer experience will be fused with smarter, intuitive tech, as consumers require zero resistance from discovery to assessment to shopping to payment to fulfillment. Speed and convenience will drive behavior, and every millisecond reduced is a battle won.

Try-before-you-buy will come into consumer homes. There’s a push-and-pull between the in-store experience and the convenience of shopping at home. Augmented reality (AR) technologies will improve, and 5G will indirectly reduce barriers to entry, based on the shift to cloud and enablement of smartphones to be AR devices. Yet AR can also improve the brick-and-mortar experience with special in-store promotions accessible via smartphones. As such, mobile, AR-based buying will reach a critical mass and up the ante for brick-and-mortar to keep consumers coming back with experiential benefits.

“The true value of today’s emerging technologies has remained in the hype cycle for much of retail and CPG, but the dawn of a new decade will see a rapid acceleration in meaningful use cases,” said Jeanne Danubio, president, Nielsen Connect, North America. “From the transformative effect of 5G to the increase in frictionless commerce—all underpinned by trust and transparency—the consumer landscape will become increasingly complex.”