Report: Future 100 highlights top tech, brand and culture trends of the next decade

Protective and sentient technology, a push for brand purpose and authenticity, new digital communities and a renewed emphasis on privacy dominate the list of 100 trends

Technology that protects, soothes and offers reassurance, a new take on digital communities, speed-controlled entertainment and renewed privacy are among the game-changing consumer trends forecast by Wunderman Thompson in its Future 100 report.

The latest report is designed to highlight emerging consumer behaviours set to shape the next decade. It’s broken into 10 categories: Culture; tech and innovation; travel and hospitality; brands and marketing; food and drink; beauty; retail; luxury; health; and finance. Each of the 100 predictions is expected to have significant ramifications on the relationship between brands and consumers as well as the way we live and interact.

Across all categories, consumer anxiety around political, economic and environmental forces at work was in evidence, as was a desire for more purpose, transparency and authenticity. Among the tech and innovation top 10 predictions, for example, was the rise of ‘protective tech’, or products and solutions that promised to protect consumers from the world around them, such as smart water filters and devices to check the quality and safety of water and smart air purifiers.

Another trend noted by Wunderman Thompson was new direct messaging communities, a fresh take on digital communities led by a desire for privacy and more authentic connections. A third innovation is ‘sentient’ tech, or technology that recognises and responds to human emotions again aimed at relieving stress and anxiety.

Yet even as technology becomes all-knowing, the report stressed privacy must remain paramount. For instance, one highlighted trend was facial recognition conquering privacy concerns in order to truly pervade society. An example noted of the negative response was protests against Live Nation Entertainment’s use of facial recognition at live concerts to replace ticketing. This desire for privacy will also see additional rules devised by brands to denote how and when data can be used, the report stated.

Related: What you should know about facial recognition technology

From a brand and marketing perspective, Wunderman Thompson’s list of future trends includes the rise of game influencers, driven by growth of the gaming industry. Forecasts from GlobalData predict the gaming industry will be worth US$300 billion by 2025, making it a lucrative area for brands to try and play in.

Other marketing trends expected to dominate are sonic branding, something already whole-heartedly embraced by Mastercard; the rise of a new vocabulary to describe the multi-faceted ways to live without a partner; the growing dominance of Gen Z in creative fields; and a push for unbiased interfaces.

A noted culture trend, meanwhile, was the concept of ‘reframing time’. With the age of non-linear sequencing now having arrived, largely thanks to streaming content, consumers are increasingly opting for a flexible and open approach to how they engage with narratives and entertainment.

But arguably, the most important takeaway for marketing leaders is the desire to see climate-positive, socially responsive and purposeful brands. According to Wunderman Thompson’s Intelligence Sonar research, 90 per cent of consumers believe companies and brands have a responsibility to take care of the planet and its people.

“As climate concerns reach fever pitch, brands are assuming greater responsibility for environmental impact,” the report stated.

Yet even as this is happening, consumers are seeking more optimistic futures, Wunderman Thompson said. “2020 is the year of a society eager to move the conversation on from bleak, dystopic times, to an optimistic lens on the future,” the report stated.

For Wunderman Thompson Intelligence global director, Emma Chiu, the report findings demonstrate the hefty cultural change we’re all experiencing.

“Purpose and transparency are leading customer loyalty, while imagination is trumping data for consumer appeal,” she commented. “The Future 100 is a way of keeping up with the big shifts and smaller fast-moving trends, offering marketers and opportunity to get ahead.”

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