As 2016 inches closer, J Walter Thompson’s Innovation Group has released a forecast of global consumer trends to watch out for in the coming year. The aim of this report is to help brands preview
emerging trends and understand the cultural shifts that have inspired them, providing context for why these changes are happening, and analyzing what this means for brands who want to stay on the cutting edge of what engaged and informed global consumers care about.
Here are some top trends in different sectors to watch out for:
Un-tabooing Womanhood: Menstruation, leg and underarm hair, underwear hygiene, and various other previously taboo aspects of femininity are being unearthed and brought to the forefront by fourth-wave feminism. A new wave of feminist sentiment is brewing on social media; one that celebrates supposedly taboo facets of womanhood, raises consciousness, and prioritizes issues such as equal pay and body image.
Tech and Innovation
Organs-on-chips: While our capacity to analyze information about health and our bodies has raced ahead, the process of testing and bringing drugs to market remains agonizingly slow. But a new category of device called “organs-on-chips” could speed up the process significantly. The tiny devices, produced by the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University, mimic the structure and function of different human organs, allowing the effects of drugs to be tested rapidly and monitored easily through microscopes. Innovations in pharmaceutical testing rarely capture the public imagination, but organs-on-chips are an elegant and potentially game-changing development in the field.
Travel and Hospitality
Clever connected luggage: Few travel experiences are as frustrating as losing a bag, but Silicon Valley start-up Bluesmart thinks its new connected luggage will help travelers stay sane when bags go missing.
Integrated sensors allow travellers to track their bag’s location on a map. While the instant relief of knowing items have at least made it to the right city is valuable in itself, the Bluesmart device also has a smart handle that can instantly calculate the bag’s weight, and an integrated app with information about itineraries.
Brands and Marketing
Neuromarketing: A buzzword for years now in the agency world, neuromarketing is finally moving into the realm of serious science and yielding actionable predictive insights for brands and forcing more traditional market researchers to take note. If peering directly into the brain continues to yield better predictive results, it could quickly become a standard technique for agencies and brands.
Food and Drink
Inhalable Cocktails: The breathable cocktail recently became the latest exotic trend to hit the London bar scene. Perennial food and drink innovators Bompas & Parr created a pop-up called ‘Alcoholic Architecture’ that allowed guests to immerse themselves in a cloud of gin and tonic, supposedly absorbed via the eyes and respiratory system. Inhalable flavors are one of many small signs that cocktail culture, long obsessed with excavating the past, is now turning toward a more innovative, modern outlook.
Beauty Foods: The lines between beauty and food continue to blur. New boutique brands are turning to ingredients that are usually eaten as superfoods, and using them to create beauty products and recipes—a trend that sits within the holistic way consumers now see well-being. Consumers are recognizing the connection between what they eat and how they look. Food trends continue to influence the beauty sector, from ingredients to terminology.
Satellite Retail: Retailers may soon be making important decisions based on images from outer space. The Orbital Insight startup combines photos of retailers’ parking lots with deep-learning image analysis to track traffic to stores in real time. Working in partnership with big data platform DigitalGlobe, the company converted data on 700 million cars collected over 48 hours into insights on national shopping behavior for its Wall Street clients.
Stool Banking: Consumers are now storing samples of their personal bacterial ecosystems in case they need them for treatment. Every human body is home to a unique mixture of bacteria that help maintain health, a fact that has received increasing media coverage in the past year. But antibiotics and other treatments can disrupt this balance, with potential adverse effects. Conditions like the intestinal infection Clostridium difficile, which is sometimes fatal, often resist conventional medicines but respond well to “fecal transplantation” that contains infusions of gut-friendly bacteria.
Grow-with-You Toys: New toys enabled with artificial intelligence can respond to a child’s
vocabulary, interests and other traits, and evolve along with the child as they grow. As artificial intelligence becomes cheaper and more sophisticated, it’s reaching into a growing array of internet-connected devices. Not all consumers are comfortable with this, but attitudes are evolving quickly.
Extreme Dining: The latest dining experiences to entice luxury consumers are extreme, and
about accessing remote, rare and theatrical settings amid the wonders of nature. These remote settings emphasize the unique journey to the venue, inspiring diners by immersing them in a memorable experience that requires intense participation.