OOH in 2020: Trends and Transformations


The roaring twenties are here. The start of a new decade, a new era. And, whilst we are yet to master flying cars or the art of cooking an appropriate amount of pasta, you can bet the 20s will be full of ground-breaking changes across the board. But what will these changes mean for advertisers? Specifically Out of Home (OOH), and even more specifically mobile OOH.  

More Humans

More humans; that’s one thing we know for sure. In the UK alone population growth is expected to reach 3 million by 2028 – cities will become more crowded, space will become a luxury. On the surface, this is great for advertisers; more bodies means more eyes on your ads. But, as living, leisure, learning and working spaces compete for increasingly limited real estate, what happens to traditional OOH sites? And what happens to roadside ads if, as predicted, many roads and carparks are converted into green spaces to combat environmental impacts? As cities shift for a growing, changing population, it’s likely that advertising will do the same. While static OOH sites may start popping up in more spacious, rural areas, urban advertising could become increasingly dominated by flexible, mobile formats.

Fear not, however - population growth won’t just bring challenges. A growing population could present opportunities for retailers who focus on essential spending. Regardless of increases in spend per head, more people means more sales for supermarkets, local stores and pharmacies. Discount businesses such as Lidl and Aldi stand to gain the most as food and grocery prices continue to rise, as well as Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) brands.

As retailers and brands compete for a slice of the population pie, the opportunities for advertisers are vast. Local store support and proximity campaigns could prove key as competition in the essential spending sector heats up.

Not only do we have a growing population, but an ageing one thanks to an increase in life expectancy. By 2028 people aged 65+ will become the highest spending age bracket, accounting for 30% of retail spending. Given that OOH advertising largely targets young, urban consumers, the outdoor sector will need to adapt in order to draw in the country’s biggest spenders. More campaigns in rural or coastal areas seems a likely option, meaning more mobile campaigns, and more competition for static OOH sites.

Hawkshead Brewery Digivan in the Lake District

More Considered Spending

Naturally, an improved life expectancy will lead to growth in the beauty industry as cosmetics become essential for social survival. Supported by the shift in self-identity, the beauty industry will increasingly reach further afield than its traditional female audience. As the consumer base grows, the beauty industry is also expected to inspire fierce loyalty in customers by offering a lifestyle, not just a product. Consumers will less likely be swayed by photos of models with enviable eyeshadow, and will demand more from brands before making a long term commitment. Of course, brands will be competing to instil loyalty in their followers so making lifestyle messages front and centre across marketing efforts will be key. Clearly this creates advertising opportunities across the board, especially in the world of experiential where delivering memorable experiences is a sure fire way to bring brands’ values to life. Given that demands for offline brand experiences are set to rise, it seems like a win-win for the beauty industry and consumers.

The positive outlook for beauty and wellness products shows consumers are moving towards a decade of self-care, also demonstrated by the demand for healthy food options. As lives get busier and free time becomes ever more mythical, convenience is also key for those wanting to maintain a healthy diet. As a result, predictions suggest we will see an increase in the use of personalised meal kits and meal substitutes, such as Hello Fresh. The consumers investing in alternative dining options are likely to be busy and on-the-go, so where better to target them than out of home? We could see an increase in outdoor marketing for convenient health foods; think sampling campaigns or live cooking demonstrations.

We’re not just eating healthier, we’re starting to eat greener. And eating greener doesn’t just mean eating spinach these days. Meat substitutes and alternatives are already increasing in mainstream food outlets and retailers. So far this year we’ve seen the likes of KFC, Greggs and Subway introduce new vegan choices to their traditionally meat-based-menus, whilst the Co-op has announced the “biggest roll out of vegan products”. As veganism grows consumers will feel pressured to conform and it’s proven that OOH advertising can influence behaviour, particularly when it comes to social norms. So whether it’s groceries or eating out, mobile OOH can influence consumer purchasing decisions en route to purchase, outside the store or food outlet, and even in-store.

We can also expect to see an upturn in the luxury goods market and in local business support as consumers look for longer-lasting, sustainable goods. Continued increases in long term renters will also lead to a shift from big ticket items to cosmetic homewares. Experience based products will continue to grow as more and more people identify less by material possessions. The consumer landscape is changing as we all make more considered purchases, but advertising will have to change quicker to keep ahead of the curve. For OOH we could see new brands from new sectors exploring outdoors for the first time, which means an influential decade full of fresh ideas and new formats.

Brand Ambassadors Handing Out Soreen Bars at Waterloo Station

More Change

One thing outdoor advertisers have always been able to rely on is swathes of commuters stampeding through major cities five days a week. But is that about to change? Telecoms technology has upped its game over the last decade, resulting in more flexible and remote working conditions. This trend is only set to increase, with more consumers becoming digital nomads. With less commuters coming into major cities, advertisers will need to find new ways of reaching out. This is good news for OOH as we could see an increased demand for outdoor advertising sites in suburban or rural areas. Commuters breaking ties to city life and settling across the UK will also create further opportunities for mobile formats to target former city-dwellers in new locations.

As touched on already, consumers' demand for offline experiences is growing. This is consolidated by predictions for offline shopping experiences over the next few years. Total offline growth is expected to be almost 8% by the end of the 2024, compared to just 3.8% between 2014-2019, with both retail parks and supermalls seeing big increases in growth predictions. Even the Internet generation are still shopping offline; 73% of consumers still prefer to shop for clothes in-store, including 7 in 10 Gen Zers.

The simple fact is, if consumers are offline then advertising should be too. Sure there’s a huge market for online advertising, but OOH still has a massive part to play, particularly as its predicted to overtake newspaper ad spend. For many, shopping is all about the experience, be it social or emotional. If done well, OOH can generate huge emotional responses which can be even more instrumental in changing behaviours. Nostalgia, too, can be a great driver of spending by reducing consumers’ rational tendency to spend conservativelySound (62%) and photos (51%) are the biggest driver of nostalgic feelings, so mediums that offer both – like our Digivans (*shameless plug*) – are ideal for sealing those last minute purchasing decisions.

Inevitably, advancing technology will continue to provide new opportunities for OOH. Notably, voice assistants are beginning to expand into the auto industry. Amazon has released the Echo Auto, with BMW, Ford and Audi all adding Alexa to their models. Allowing consumers to set purchase reminders, or even buy instantly from behind the wheel, imagine the new possibilities this could open up for roadside and mobile OOH! Plus, we’re already seeing tech upgrades allowing brands to showcase dynamic creative based on weather, time of day, or location. For mobile OOH in particular, location creates an especially exciting opportunity to tailor campaigns right down to street level.

Yes, we’re at the start of a new decade where everything is on the Internet, and the Internet is everything. But OOH is just getting started.     

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