This post is part of our Think 2020 series, in which we explore the mindsets, behaviors and emerging solutions shaping marketing and communications in the year ahead.

Welcome to 2020. What great ideas will your brand bring to life in the new decade?

It’s a big question on the first business day of the new year, but now’s the time to ask it. After all, this is the season for fresh starts and goal setting.

Here at LGA, our New Year’s resolution is to continue being insatiably curious about the world around us. About our clients’ business. About what motivates their customers. About how a new tactic can extend a message’s reach, or how an old tactic’s renaissance can offer new creative opportunity.

Why? Because it’s curiosity that takes ideas from good to great.

You’ve likely already seen some think pieces and a bold prediction or two about advertising and marketing trends to watch in the year ahead. We’ve got our take, too.

But before we jump into what’s new and what’s next, first let’s level-set on three behavioral trends shaping how American consumers think, act and make decisions right now.

In short: We’re stressed out, suspicious and desperately seeking good. Here’s what that can mean for your marketing and communications strategy in 2020 and beyond.

Stressed Out

What’s Happening

As 2019 drew to a close, it seemed hard to go more than a few days without seeing or hearing a headline about Americans’ worsening mental health:

Americans Are More Stressed Than Ever Over Money

CNBC.com / Oct. 19, 2019

Today’s Politics May Be Bad for Your Health

WSJ.com / Oct. 7, 2019

Lonely, Burned Out, and Depressed: The State of Millennials

BusinessInsider.com / Oct. 10, 2019

Americans Are Among the Most Stressed People in the World, Poll Finds

NYTimes.com / April 25, 2019

Americans Say the U.S. in 2050 Will Be Worse Off in Many Ways

Pew Research Center / March 21, 2019

Even our pets were stressed:

“Stress in pets is much more prevalent than we know”

NYPost.com / Oct. 30, 2019

We’re angry, anxious, stressed out, depressed and sleep-deprived about everything from climate change and politics, to money and safety, to workplace burnout and online privacy.

Why It Matters

We’re starting 2020 short on patience and stingy with our attention spans. We don’t want to feel like our time’s being wasted and we don’t have the emotional bandwidth for anyone or anything that makes our lives more difficult.

The brands that will win the next decade despite this mindset will be those that genuinely connect with their customers – that really get to know them, understand their pain points and work every day to make their lives just a little better. And we’re not just talking about the purchase process or after the sale, but at every single online and offline touchpoint along the way.

Suspicious

What’s Happening

American consumers are an increasingly skeptical bunch – and not without good reason. Whether it’s our social systems or our social media, we’ve seen enough scandals in recent years to give us serious pause before taking new news or information at face value.

Consider this:

Maybe what’s most interesting, though, is that all that distrust hasn’t really changed the way we use the internet.

Yes, we’re starting to move toward smaller, private online chats in the form of Facebook groups and encrypted messaging apps like WhatsApp. But we also rushed in droves this past summer to age ourselves in FaceApp without so much as a passing thought as to who created it or how our senior selfies could be used.

Why It Matters

Even if it hasn’t yet changed some hardwired habits, we’re entering 2020 a whole lot more suspicious than we used to be. It’s an unforgiving mindset that doesn’t leave much room for error.

That’s not to say brands can’t succeed even with their most stingy skeptics. But it does place added emphasis on being genuine, transparent and delivering real value with every digital and real-life interaction.

Desperately Seeking Good

What’s Happening

Despite our stress and suspiciousness – or maybe because of it – we’re also desperately seeking good in our day-to-day lives.

It’s not a leap to think this craving for positivity is what propelled “heroes” to the top spot in Google’s Year in Search. It likely also can claim a bit of the credit for TikTok’s explosive growth, FaceApp’s instant virality and even Instagram’s continued reign as an all-ages social media darling. These channels can sometimes feel like some of the last happy corners of the internet (serious concerns about their parent companies notwithstanding), so it stands to reason they’re where we go when we’re looking for a shot of sunshine.

Of course, we also see this mindset on an even larger scale as more and more Americans expect brands to do good, give back and leave the world better than they found it. Expect this trend to continue. More than half (58%) of Gen Z says a brand’s purpose, values and mission are its most important trait. It’s in the top three for Millennials as well.

Why It Matters

We’re eager for anything that can help us escape the negativity and uncertainty that swirls around us every day. That might be as simple as a moment of levity, or it might be as substantive as feeling part of something truly meaningful.

This provides a lot of opportunity for marketers to make meaningful connections with their customers. Keep in mind social good doesn’t always need to be a grand or expensive gesture. Whether you’re starting small or swinging for the fences, begin with your brand’s purpose and align your efforts to do good with what fits naturally for your company and its customers.

Think 2020

Throughout this month, we’ll explore the current state of five tactical trends – and one emerging generation – shaping the next decade of marketing and communications strategy. We’ll give you ideas for practical applications you can explore right now, suggestions for smart, straightforward resources where you can learn more, and we’ll frame it all in the context of how consumers think and act in 2020.

Here’s what’s ahead:

Let’s Connect

We can’t predict the future – but we can say with certainty great ideas are fueled by curiosity and collaboration. If you’re looking for a partner to tackle this decade’s business challenges with relentless creativity, we’d love to hear from you.