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Trends reshaping the expectations in 2020 – self-expression

All humans need to live a life that is an expression of their deepest self. We have moved to the era of post-demographics.


Pasi Tuominen

hotelli-, ravintola- ja matkailualan liiketoiminnan kehittämisen lehtori
Haaga-Helia ammattikorkeakoulu

Eeva Puhakainen

viestinnän lehtori, TKI-viestintävastaava
Haaga-Helia ammattikorkeakoulu

Published : 31.12.2019

Value, connection, relevance, privacy and self-expression have been the basic needs since Maslow postulated famous hierarchy of needs (Maslow 1943). For each basic need trend spotters and foresight professionals have identified current trends reshaping expectations around year 2020. These trends, namely brand coins, brand avatars, metamorphic design, selective presence and self-creation provide ways to understand the connection, and touchpoints for companies to tap on these trends and address the basic needs in timely format.

Self-expression is left for this last part of this series of blogs. Previously we’ve been discussing relevance and privacy (here) and in the first part value and connection (here). If you wish to read more about the examples used in this blog series, you´ll find a list of links and websites at the end of this blog.


All humans need to live a life that is an expression of their deepest self. We have moved to the era of post-demographics. We live in a world in which people can construct their own identities live a life that is a reflection of their true selves. We’re in a world where a transwoman (Victoria Sampaio) can be a Victoria’s Secret model. And in which a 16-year-old (Greta Thunberg) can be the world’s prominent climate activist. Digital tools have allowed an explosion of new self-expression and play with identity. Snapchat added 13 million daily active users Q2 2019, which is the highest growth since 2016. (Snap, July 2019).

Next year, we will see more and more services; tools and devices that help consumers become who they truly are. Small changes can make a huge difference. March 2019 saw US-based United Airlines introduce non-binary gender options for flyers when booking their flights. Passengers can now identify themselves as M, F, U, X or Mx (male, female, undisclosed, unspecified, gender neutral). The airline also worked closely with various LGBTQ organizations, such as The Human Rights Campaign and The Trevor Project, to train its employees on the best ways to address passengers.

The Nonnormative Body Club launched in 2018 offers personal and group training along with workshops on transgender health topics, such as chest binding, and preparation and recovery for top surgery. The club is built on values around body positive personal training and aims to provide ‘accessible fitness spaces for those of us whose bodies and identities rebel against normative definitions of beauty and health’.

Concurrently, in June 2019 Mastercard announced its True Name card initiative, which will allow preferred names to be printed on the front of ones’ credit card. In response to the discrimination of trans- and non-binary people with a name or gender contrast to their physical presentation, Mastercard now offers now a more comfortable solution. Card should be available by early 2020.

While the basic needs have not changed, the world around us keeps evolving. How will the companies address the needs of value, connection, relevance, self-expression and privacy in 2020? Small changes can make big impact. Brand coins, brand avatars, metamorphic design, selective presence, and self-creation could be tools to make the impact in the future.

More detailed information of the examples used in this blog series can be found from the following websites and links:

It’s Time to Enable People to Use Their True Name on Cards

Elevate: Campaign Training for People with Disabilities

Nonnormative Body Club

United Airlines Makes History By Offering Non-Binary Gender Booking

Snap saw monstrous growth in the second quarter, and the reason has a lot to do with that viral gender-swapping filter


Fight for the Future – Airline Privacy

URME Surveillance

GACHA Autonomous Shuttle Bus – MUJI

GACHA Early Pilot Program

Shiseido Launches Full-Scale IoT*1 Skincare Service Brand “Optune”


Tesla to release version 10 of its software as soon as next month with tons of new features

Creative agency Virtue introduces genderless voice Q to challenge biases in technology/

KFC pokes fun at Instagram influencers with a colonel Sanders version

Wendy’s ‘Keeping Fortnite Fresh’ bests Nike’s ‘Dream Crazy’ to take Social & Influencer Grand Prix at Cannes Lions

World’s first AI news anchor unveiled in China

Calvin Klein apologizes for Bella Hadid kiss with Lil Miquela

Shudu, the digital model, fronts Ellesse’s SS19 campaign

Miles is an app that tracks your every move in exchange for deals and discounts

Jaguar Land Rover planning to allow helpful car drivers to earn cryptocurrency


What is TAP Coin™(Hooch™) ?

Americans Have Trust Issues with Facebook’s Cryptocurrency

Maslow, A.H. (1943). “A theory of human motivation”. Psychological Review. 50 (4): 370–96.

Pasi Tuominen is specialized in multi-sensory experience design and brand reputation management. He is extremely well versed in conceiving creative ideas for leading consumer brands, and being an expert inemerging technology. Eeva Puhakainen is widely published communications professional. Both work with Service Experience Laboratory LAB8 project, which provides solutions and tools for service design, and augmented-, virtual-, and extended reality development for companies.