We are living in extraordinary times. The essential social constructs that have dictated how we move through our days and truly, our lives, have dissolved like paper-mache balloons left out in the rain. We gaze at the ruined remnants and wonder: How we will ever start over again?
The good news is, this is not as sudden as it seems. Change has been an urgent whisper in our ears for some time now. It has been soft, but persistent – belying the comfort we thought we had achieved – the sense of progress, the future we thought was so very close. It’s loud and noisy, harsh and pain filled right now – but this kind of force is what births big change. And big change is what we are seeing – and feeling! – right now. The process might hurt, but it’s the only way to the other side.
What we are shifts we are tracking now?
The following 8 trends can be summed up into three categories: me, she and we.
We are more curious, and more aware than ever about our unique differences. In a world fast approaching 10 billion humans, we are looking to unpack who WE are. What makes us valuable, special, important? How do we uncover our best selves? – the true self we know we can be, if we just can unlock that elusive code.
From that point, we see a new ecosystem of ideas, systems and modalities helping us to unlock and decode ourselves.
At the front of this path, is SHE… the new female force. This cohort has been gathering strength for some time, but in the crashing to earth of old hierarchy and patrimony, comes the hope for a new way of doing things. She is creating a whole new connected culture that we believe will give rise to a golden age of human culture, community and business.
And finally, we are shifting from a myopic view of how we define ourselves and how we define success. It seems that the minute we are granted the ability to be self-focused, and self-gratifying, we now shift to looking for the ways and means of helping and healing each other, and our planet. The very goals and wishes the Baby Boomers were seeking in their twenties, may well be their legacy in their sixties.
Strange and wonderful times, my friends. Keep looking at the light!
In a world of billions of people, we have become hungrier than ever to define who we are. With sites and sources around the globe promising protocols of every shape and size to unlock our ‘super-me’ the path to our best self seems tantalizingly close. From genome sequencing, to stem cell storage, vampire masks to DNA tailored exercise plans, we are seeking the specific combination to unlock our highest selves. We believe that missing one of those key tumblers explains why we fail, make poor choices, and never attain the levels we just KNOW are possible. As we learn more and more about the special code-ography belonging only to us, we seek to fly to the sun with wings that won’t melt.
Implications: Look for smart products, from clothing to scents to foods to cosmetics, formed around our own unique genetic and ancestral story. Combination patterns, products and protocols that allow us to be our best selves will emerge as the winners of the next decade. We will expect self -amplification in all we chose to bring into our worlds.
The next generation understands we only own one thing – our reputation. A recent study showed that children as young as 5 engage in a form of reputation management. As people begin to shed ownership of hard goods, and instead rely on access models on a need basis only, they are focusing on how to build and protect their self-story – the one asset they MUST invest in. With the increase of facial recognition tools being used in China, and our own social reputations being created from an assortment of social scores (AirBnB, Uber, GrubHub, etc.), monitoring and owning our public story is becoming mission critical. Gen Z speaks aggressively of wanting every job and work engagement to leave them better equipped and educated for their next gig, and the desire for building a wide breadth of skill sets – both work oriented, and personal pleasure based, is growing. Self-enrichment, self-development and self-ownership are the new markers of success. Brands and products that provide pathways to all of the above will be well positioned to win in the future. Recruiters and HR departments – take note!! There will be no employment and engagement without offering personal enrichment.
One life? No way, Jose!! With VR experiences, local-led travel experiences, and an awareness of the fleeting uniqueness of the rest of the world at an all-time high, we are clamoring for the ways and means to walk in someone else’s shoes in every possible iteration. Where armchair travel used to be a category of fiction and PBS documentaries, we are now looking for fully immersive journeys into the lives and lands of others. Right now, we are seeing this show up in the world of reporting and in entertainment, with stories told from multiple angles so viewers can choose their version. Next up, a higher level of integration with fully fleshed out roles for the participant to assume. (Think of the intense interest in events such as Comicon and Burning Man). Look for exhibits, clubs and destination retail-like locations to provide access to being someone else – if only for a while…
We stand at a particular moment in time when the very things we have breathlessly rushed to build and create have failed us. At times, this present-day world feels like the handiwork of some mad science fiction writer. Our civic systems, business hierarchies, educational programs and lifestyles have failed us. And the thought of rebuilding them from scratch seems insurmountable. We no longer believe in ourselves. We long to believe in something bigger and larger than our own capabilities. We are turning instead to ancient wisdoms. Astrology and star-based prognostication tools have been growing in interest and importance across all sectors, with searches for ‘lunar eclipse’, horoscopes and planetary alignment racing up the social listening charts. Celestial prints continue to show up in home décor and fashion, and fragrances and products that tie in to astrology signs are populating at astonishing rates (super me). Down below, we look to ancient civilizations for clues on how to live full, joyful lives. Ayurvedic wisdom, primal movement classes, and interest in learning from the ancients continues to grow. We seem to be reaching for a power larger than ourselves and hoping for some proof that there is a bigger system at play than the broken ones we keep creating. Look for these trends to inform everything from cosmetics, to fashion to travel.
One thought about creating a new place for mankind to live is to develop a colony on Mars in the far-off future. Another is quietly happening right now. Women, a force rising around the globe, have been quietly creating a parallel universe for some time and are choosing to live in it. Done with a patriarchy that has damaged the planet, crushed the indigent and ignored the female’s unique needs and wants, they are building an alternative ecosphere where life is done differently. This is not a subtle integration but rather a stepping aside and finding a new path: one that recognizes and rewards women on their own terms. From female led start-ups, to the rise of fem-tech, women-based investing groups, and women only networking clubs; women are leaning into women, and creating small, powerful circles of trust. These groups support each other’s journey with both emotional and heart felt sharing around child-raising as well as with investment advice, recruitment intel and VC funding. From The Wing, to Grace Belgravia in London and Le WIC de Paris, these clubs represent a paradigm shift, which means that increasingly women are seeking out other women’s company. The conversations are deeper, the connections stronger, and the results significant for the building of businesses and relationships. Women are creating small circles of trust that allow them the vulnerability, honesty and femininity they have had to suppress before in order to succeed in business.
Look for more women only organizations and groups, focused on personal renewal, regeneration, and shared experiences. Additionally, we expect to continue to see a spike in female businesses around ‘taboo’ subjects such as menstruation, breastfeeding and menopause. Brands like Thinx, Willow and Lola are founded by women, for women. Expect women to shift how and why business gets done, and in the process, redefine how we work and live.
With the endless online digitopia we now live in, we have the luxury, and curse of being always on. We can work from anywhere, anytime, and when the work is done, we are feeling the pressure to use any free time for self -improvement. (Master me) Podcasts, apps for health and wellness, FitBits that monitor our steps – we are always on a path to maximize every moment, and we yearn for a little bit of recess. The current state of the world, and the darkness of the news makes this need even more palpable. Enter PLAY. It is of no surprise that palaces of play are springing up in cities everywhere. From 29Rooms, to the Museum of Ice Cream, The Color Factory, and Ballie Ballerson in Shoreditch, we yearn to let loose and unleash our inner child. Play – and places committed to this experience, are the new entertainment hubs, and will soon become destinations that are prescribed for mental wellness, much like the spa vacation of the 80’s. On a darker note, however, there is a simplicity and flat coloration to this movement that is reminiscent of the embrace of kawaii that bubbled up in Japan post WWII. There is a flatness and a one-dimensionality of the colors and images emerging in this arena that speak to the fear that runs rampant in the world today. Playing lightly across the surface wins the audience today. They do not want to wade into deeper waters. Expect to see a path for play built into retail experiences, restaurants, and match making apps, as the hunger for fun increases. (Adult Build-A-Bear, anyone?) Play will extend into areas such as beauty and jewelry as well, allowing for interactive, creative and fun experiences, with products developed as a result.
Death. The word alone is hard and scary. But there is a subtle shift occurring right now in how we approach our end. It may be because of the challenging times we live in, it may be due to our greater interconnectivity, but either way, there is a desire and a movement to look at death and to befriend it. How can we make death less bleak? How do we open ourselves up to the inevitable? How do we find grace? Knowledge is power and understanding opens doors to empathy and acceptance. Exhibits and installations around the world are showcasing the process and even the celebration of death around the world. Of particular notice is the study of how ancient cultures addressed this life-stage and created rituals and beauty around it. From living death masks made by an MIT artisan, to the Museum of Death in New Orleans, we, as a culture, seem ready to take on this final taboo. Look for VR immersions, guided experiences, death stage concierges and Sherpas and more to bring us closer to death – and to a graceful embrace of the inevitable.
The brain is the new gut. As we continue to explore this amazing magic carpet ride we call our body, we are starting to learn more about the interconnectivity of the mind and body to how we work and function. The brain has become a hot topic, due to a variety of emergent issues. From the gut/brain connection, to an increased awareness of the physical causes of emotional stress, the broader acceptance of mental illness, and the increased fight against Alzheimer’s, this organ is emerging as a new frontier for both exploration and potential enhancement. And, worth pointing out – it has become recognized as an organ – not the center of our being. Mind as self has shifted, and our understanding of what makes us unique and special has become something more ethereal and wholistic. So, the care and feeding of this organ feels new and important. Neuroplasticity, trauma reaction, nutritional connections and more are just now beginning to be unpacked and understood. As tech developers, spiritual seekers and ambitious millennials look to tap into ways to enhance our experience and abilities, neurotropic drugs, electric stimulation and brain wave feedback are becoming part of the latest best-self protocol. Expect brain enhancement treatments, ‘gyms’, eating regiments and more to begin to populate the consumer landscape.