Liquid Barcodes


Five UK Trends for 2020

Paula Thomas, Chief Content Officer, Liquid Barcodes


There’s no doubt that the UK market is a dominant and impressive influence on marketing worldwide, with extra-ordinary insights and expertise that we can all learn from. Whether it’s loyalty programmes, advertising campaigns, or simply underlying changes in consumer culture that can guide our business planning, I keep a close eye on the ideas emerging from there – perhaps even more so in 2020 against the backdrop of social, political and economic change brought about by Brexit. One of my favourite resources to stay up to date on how technology, communications and UK culture are evolving is published by Mindshare, a marketing agency that’s part of a global media network of 9,300 people in 86 countries. Every year, as part of their “Mindshare Futures” programme, they publish an incredibly detailed report on UK trends which has proved insightful and useful for many of my own marketing planning in the past. So in this article, I’m writing a short(ish) overview on their key trends for 2020 and indeed the decade ahead – summarising their 30,000 word report in to a more accessible version that captures my understanding of their key conclusions. If you find these ideas useful, you can of course download the full report free of charge here.

UK Trends for 2020

Five Key UK Trends for 2020

Not all of their marketing research and conclusions are relevant for your loyalty programme planning, however I believe it’s critical to understand a much as possible if this report is to truly help your business to “unlock growth” as it sets out to, and it’s useful to consider these ideas in the context of an increasingly “polarised society”. So here (in my words) are their big five ideas and trends – captured through a combination of both quantitative and qualitative research:

1) Finally 5G?

While almost everyone has heard of 5G, current levels of understanding the potential impact of the software are practically non-existent. Consumers see the evolution as “pointless” as internet speeds are no longer an issue for most UK citizens, leading to a sense of being underwhelmed by just “another G”. Even I hadn’t realised that 5G is over a hundred times faster than 4G (!), leading Mindshare to describe the possibilities the technology is enabling as “the fire for a whole new world”.  It seems as if the dramatic potential of 5G will revolutionise our lives – but not yet, with at least a 4-5 year window in transition as devices and networks build out the infrastructure.

One great example quoted was the city of Barcelona which has used 5G to roll out free high speed wifi yet saved itself €75 million and created over 47,000 jobs! And so my view is that the impact of this technology is certainly not to be under-estimated. In the same way none of us knew we wanted the internet, 5G brings extraordinary possibilities including infrastructure efficiencies as well as a resurgence of augmented reality and virtual reality as exciting options for marketing professionals to understand and consider.

Implications for Loyalty:

  1. 5G enables much more immersive experiences, so gamification will become even more popular on mobile, with reduced need for expensive and bulky consoles.
  2. Organising your data is critical – with linked and organised data described as “vital” for consumer insights. It will no longer be a nice-to-have but an essential underlying approach that consumers will expect if they engage with you across channels.

2) Data Capture Becomes Increasingly Personal

Loyalty programmes have evolved from simple demographic data collection, through to data on our purchase preferences and patterns – but as we enter this new decade, data capture is becoming increasingly personal. Whether it’s the use of facial recognition technology which we’ve written about here, or the continued growth in the use of wearable technology which assesses detailed and intimate data about our physical health and potentially even our moods, there’s no doubt that tech companies in particular are racing to capture every piece of data that consumers are willing to share.

Implications for Loyalty:

  1. A further increase in global regulation of data capture and management. GDPR will continue to evolve and brands need to maintain a laser focus on both the security of their data as well as their privacy policies for loyalty programmes. Penalties for non-compliance will be swift and expensive.
  2. Health and wellness trends show no signs of abating, so loyalty programmes in the convenience industry could add considerable value to members who have goals around the quality and category of foods that they purchase. Vitality in South Africa is one favourite programme of mine which has access to detailed data from partner supermarkets and rewards customers for buying healthy food.  Why not build your loyalty programme using a model that benefits customers who take care of themselves?
  3. From a technology perspective, it seems mainly eastern countries are excited about the use of facial recognition in stores, however the report mentions rumours that Whole Foods is planning hand recognition technology, something we’ve also written about in this article on driving loyalty in convenience stores in Korea. One to consider for loyalty teams alongside your technology teams as we increasingly move away from plastic cards or even mobile apps to identify customer’s behaviour and loyalty.

smart watchHow Much Data Are Consumers Willing to Share? As much as they see benefits them! 

3) An Insatiable Desire for Quality Content.

Clearly the demand of movie-quality content is continuing to grow, with Netflix still one of the market leaders after an incredible 22 years in the business! This section of the trends report mainly focuses on who will win the content wars and how. Perhaps an all-in-one service provider will package the content from the industry leaders including Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Netflix etc, or perhaps we will begin to outsource our media choices across platforms to content curation services. Either way, it seems UK consumers are beginning to re-think how many subscriptions they are prepared to pay for in order to be entertained.

Implications for Loyalty:

  1. While we are not directly in the entertainment business, this industry has clearly evolved from free content on traditional TV channels (funded by advertising) to paid models for a dramatically improved experience or product. More and more loyalty programmes in the convenience industry I believe should be actively following this trend, considering whether to launch subscription programmes for key categories including coffee, breakfast or lunch. Whenever customers need to buy something frequently, there lies an opportunity for programmes built around a fixed fee that guarantees recurring revenue from loyal customers.
  2. What content providers need is access to trusted brands with audiences at scale. Many successful loyalty programmes have not yet recognised the value of the audience they have to offer and the benefits that partnering with top content providers could provide. Read this article for inspiration on how KFC China partnered with the top online game providers in China to create one of the most successful loyalty programmes in our industry. A similar model between the giants of convenience retail and premium content could be very compelling for members.

4) The Challenge to Choose.

As trust becomes one of the biggest challenges for brands to attract customers, established platforms like Amazon, eBay and even social media brands will influence more and more buying decisions in the same way that search engines have done in the past.

Implications for Loyalty:

  1. While budgets to acquire members to loyalty programmes in the past have often focused on Facebook and Google Adwords, opportunities abound to move beyond simply inviting members to join your loyalty programme. eCommerce websites in the convenience industry are expensive to build and convince customers to build, so why not begin selling products within Instagram and Amazon?
  2. In countries where “superapps” exist, it makes sense for brands to ensure their business adopts those platforms for both loyalty and eCommerce. Here is an article we’ve written on how brands like McDonald’s in China partner with the leading platforms that customers know and trust. This trend is more dominant in the East than the West but it’s an important idea to understand to make sure your business is present on the leading platforms in your country.

5) Advertising is evolving.

The final trend identified as a big issue centres around the increasingly cynical views of consumers around paid advertising. Fake news and digital solutions that either interrupt the user’s experience or stalk them around the internet simply add to their concerns. Advertising is evolving to included product placement in entertainment channels plus an increasing focus on associating brands with a “purpose”.

Implications for Loyalty:

  1. Any loyalty programme or brand project that is intended to show your customers that “you care”, MUST be authentic. Consumers are evaluating how brands behave – not just how they say they behave.
  2. A “narrowing trust window” has resulted in an increasing reliance on “word of mouth marketing” – whether informally by asking friends and family for recommendations or more formerly through managing and incentivising your customers to help build your reputation online. In addition, the whole field of “customer experience” is highlighting to companies how consumers truly experience their services – showing how important it is to drive loyalty by focusing on excellence in everything you do.

In Closing:

We live in a complex and competitive world – where the rate of change is perhaps our biggest challenge. Understanding these trends will, I hope, help you drive growth in your business in the year and decade to come.


About Us:

Liquid Barcodes is a leading global loyalty and digital marketing technology company specialised for the convenience store and foodservice industries. Our proprietary cloud-based technology platform allow retailers to create and manage their digital marketing campaigns with a proprietary process we call the “customer connection cycle’ to engage, promote and reward customers activities in real-time across digital and media channels.

How we do it:

We have developed the most advanced loyalty and digital marketing technology platform specifically for convenience store and foodservice retailers globally.

Retailers use our self-service dashboard to create and manage loyalty driven marketing campaigns that increase purchases with their existing customers, as well as effectively target and acquire new customers through partners or paid media channels.

One core component of live loyalty is gamification. We have gamified branding, loyalty and promotions. We believe this approach is essential in order to get customers’ attention and ultimately truly engage them with repeatable actions thereby winning their loyalty.

Check out some of our exciting/proven results here:

About Me:

Paula Thomas

Chief Content Officer, Liquid Barcodes and Independent Loyalty Consultant

With over twenty-five years marketing experience, I specialise in loyalty marketing, having launched the worlds’ first B2B podcast about loyalty, as well as speaking, consulting and managing consumer loyalty propositions and strategy ideas. In addition to working with Liquid Barcodes, my clients have included Telefonica O2, Three Mobile, Electric Ireland, Allied Irish Bank and The Entertainer Group, as well as Avios – the global points currency for some of the world’s top airlines. I am also a former judge for the UK-based Loyalty Magazine Awards. 


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Convenience retailers all over the world have engaged and rewarded consumers with our tailor-made loyalty programs.

To our case studies →

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Liquid Barcodes
Liquid Barcodes
Liquid Barcodes