The latest trends come and go in the blink of an eye. By the time you’ve mastered how to floss1, there’s a new dance move to learn. The minute you splurge on a tiny pair of sunglasses, you find out that big frames are back in fashion2.
But dig a little deeper into those and other trends, and you start to see that they often speak to bigger changes. So rather than rattling off a list of flash-in-the-pan YouTube trends from 2019, we instead wanted to look at the behavioural and cultural shifts they represent. Here are three YouTube trends that all marketers should know about.
1. Local content went global
All too often, brands think about their advertising campaigns in terms of market-specific silos. You might have one creative asset for the Indian market and a different one for the U.K. Sometimes this makes sense. After all, it’s important to be culturally relevant. And what works in one place might be badly received somewhere else.
But looking at the biggest recent YouTube trends, we have reason to believe viewers are more cosmopolitan than they sometimes get credit for. For example, in research we carried out this year about the fashion industry, we found that 60% of the content produced by U.S. YouTube creators is watched by users in other countries.
Globalisation and the spread of trends beyond national borders is nothing new, but platforms like YouTube are accelerating the process. Take live streaming as an example. It has never been easier to watch events taking place on the other side of the planet in real time, which is perhaps why, of the 100 most popular YouTube live streams,3 more than 60 of them happened in the past two years.
2. Shopping content became entertainment
When we carried out a survey4 of U.S. shoppers earlier this year, we discovered that 93% of them said they’d used an online resource at some point throughout the customer journey. It’s something we’ve seen play out around the world. For example, in global research5 from 2018, we found that 55% of shoppers said they search for a product on Google and then head to YouTube to learn more before buying it.
But somewhat surprisingly, people aren’t looking up shopping content simply because they need help knowing what to buy; they’re also looking to be entertained.6 From new takes on shopping sprees7 to videos that took viewers on virtual hauls — a genre that grew 3X in India this past year — YouTube creators blurred the lines between “shopping” and “entertainment” in 2019.
3. YouTube viewers went green
In September 2019, children in 150 countries, from South Africa to Canada, took to the streets in one of the largest climate change demonstrations8 ever seen. “We fight for our future,” Greta Thunberg, the teenage climate activist who initiated the movement, told U.N. World Leaders.9
Rather than scrambling to jump on board the latest bandwagon, savvy marketers will realise that these trends hint at deeper cultural and behavioural shifts.
If the data we’re seeing from YouTube is anything to go by, this desire to think more carefully about our planet’s future and how we, as consumers, can help is more widespread than ever before. Indeed, we saw a surge in content championing the protection of the environment. For example, there was a big spike in monthly views of videos with “clean beauty” in the title and a huge increase in both uploads and views of haul videos with “sustainable” in the title.
Understanding the people we’re trying to reach
It’s anyone’s guess what new trends 2020 will bring. Rather than scrambling to jump on board the latest bandwagon, savvy marketers will realise that these trends hint at deeper cultural and behavioural shifts. By taking the time to understand them, we can better understand the people we’re trying to reach.