Retailers and brands bank on high consumer confidence and low unemployment (among other factors) to grow their businesses. So far, so good — but deep-seated political, economic, and social forces will test both in 2020.

54% of US consumers believe companies should improve local communities.

The retailer’s response to change: Innovate and adapt, as always — especially as increasingly empowered customers set a high bar for what they expect from brands. We predict that in 2020, retailers will compete on (elusive) data mastery, corporate values stances, tech savvy, digital supply chain — and even affordable healthcare services. A few highlights from our annual retail predictions report:

  • Retailers will show their social responsibility and values to resonate with shoppers. Empowered customers actively research and buy products with corporate values in mind, from choosing products that are environmentally friendly and locally made to understanding corporate values around what they do and don’t produce and sell. The question is whether brands will invest enough to digitize their supply chain to balance cost, lead times, and sustainable production practices.
  • Retailers will find lucrative new revenue streams in health and wellness. From nutrition and fitness to accessible healthcare and proactive catering to a rapidly aging population, retailers see health and wellness as a means to lift their bottom line, create more loyal customers — and generate customer data and insights galore. And it’s not just drug stores and general merchandisers that are doubling down. Among others, mattress purveyor Casper wants its share of the “sleep economy,” while apparel retailer American Eagle offers CBD-based body care.[i]
  • Data mastery will be the common thread among retail winners in 2020 — but few will achieve it. Data plays a central role in profitably growing one’s business, but improving the use of data insights in business decision making is a high priority for just 27% of global retail and wholesale purchase influencers.[ii] Plus, data mastery is hard: 38% of our retail and wholesale survey respondents acknowledge that improving their use of data insights in business decision making will be very or even extremely challenging.[iii]

For more predictions and insights from Forrester’s retail team, please see the full report. To understand the major dynamics that will impact firms next year, download Forrester’s Predictions 2020 guide.

[i] Source: Sheila Marikar, “Casper Dreams of Being Bigger Than Mattresses,” The New York Times, September 13, 2019 (

[ii] Source: Forrester Analytics Global Business Technographics® Priorities And Journey Survey, 2019

[iii] Source: Forrester Analytics Global Business Technographics Priorities And Journey Survey, 2019