Although “20/20” usually suggests perfect vision, a lot about the year 2020 is still unclear. Certainly news in the coming year will cover the U.S. presidential election, summer Olympics, scheduled Brexit, and more. But what can we expect from the world of business and brands?! Here, in my annual alphabet-correlated list of brands that I expect will dominate the headlines, I offer Brands to Watch in 2020 . Amazon tops the alphabetical list of brands that will make the news in 2020.
Getty A – Amazon . Amazon heads up the list, as it has in every year except one since I started this tradition in 2013. It has and will continue to dominate the business headlines by further disrupting the grocery industry with its free delivery to Prime members, investing more heavily in Prime Video to compete with Apple TV+ and Netflix (see N for Netflix below), and doubling-down on its already fast-growing ad business. It has also been taking hits from activists, politicians, Trump, and even some of the public at large, as awareness grows of its tax avoidance practices, high-pressure organizational culture, and Jeff Bezos’s personal life – as well as from investors who punished the stock after the company missed its most recent earnings forecast. And since it’s likely that Bezos will spinoff AWS before the government forces him to, 2020 could bring news on that front.
B – Boeing . After two deadly crashes and the worldwide grounding of its 737 Max plane, Boeing has suffered reputational damage, incurred major debt to offset production costs and appease investors, and put customers including Southwest Airlines in a pinch. But the company says the airliner will return to service in Europe in the first quarter of the year and its CEO has agreed to forego most of his pay for 2020, so perhaps it can turn things around.
C – Cloud. There’s a growing battle for dominance of the cloud computing market, which is forecasted to reach $411 billion by 2022. Among the major players jockeying for a winning position are AWS (which is also displacing Oracle and SAP as the leader in enterprise software), Microsoft (recently won $10 billion JEDI contract from the Pentagon), Alibaba (now #3 in cloud), and Google (just entered into partnership with Indian IT services provider HCL ). IBM and Oracle have retreated from the cloud somewhat, with Big Blue shifting to focus on the development platform space and Oracle returning to its knitting in SaaS and autonomous database products.
D — Democratic Party . More than any other, next November’s presidential election will be a test of the Democratic Party’s power and brand appeal. Will it be able to unseat Trump? And if so, will it be with one of the current legacy-type frontrunners (all 70+ years old and white) or with a (sexuality-, gender-, experience-, or race-) convention breaking candidate…or new entrants (besides Michael Bloomberg)? Can’t wait to find out.
E – as in UberEats . The fate of Uber ’s food delivery arm in 2020 is significant on a few fronts. First, there’s the uncertain future of the high-growth, low-margin food delivery business in which UberEats is battling GrubHub, DoorDash, and Postmates, as the sector continues its takeover of the restaurant industry and expands into grocery. Also Starbucks recently announced it expects to complete the nationwide rollout of Starbucks Delivery by the end of the year. Then, as the faster-growing segment of Uber, UberEats will impact the company’s overall performance, investor appeal, and brand perceptions. Momentum in the ride-hailing business has been slowing and Uber continues to face stiff competition from Lyft which posted in its recent quarterly report strong revenue growth and a promising outlook on future profitability — as well as from growing scooter and bike rental companies (including Uber’s own Jump e-bikes.) CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has said that the company will turn a full-year profit by 2021, but he also promised to fix the company culture and that, with recent layoffs, seems to remain a challenge.
F – Facebook . Reasons for concern about Facebook in 2020: criticism for its stated commitment to not blocking un-verified political ads, continued scrutiny over data privacy (see R for Regulation below), threats of a government-mandated breakup, and regulatory concerns about its Libra cryptocurrency and high profile departures from the Libra Association by Mastercard, Visa, PayPal, and eBay among others. Reasons to ignore the concerns: continued strong user, revenue, and income growth. Oh, and the recent introduction of its new corporate logo intended to differentiate the parent company which also owns Instagram and WhatsApp (not!)
G – Google . Google should make the news next year because of its growing cloud business (see C for Cloud above), its acquisition of FitBit and its developing health-related initiatives, and increasing competition on several fronts from Microsoft. But instead, what will make Google a company to watch in 2020 is its ...