FEATURE4 November 2015

Focused on the future

AI Features Trends UK

The Future Foundation’s Trending 2016 conference in London yesterday ( 3rd November) looked at some of the global structural changes taking place over the coming year and how that will affect brands and consumers alike. By Jane Bainbridge


Looking at the themes, trends, disruptions and behaviour changes affecting consumers around the globe, the insights and trends consultancy Future Foundation shared its nVision research findings. Here are seven global insights from the day.

1. Cognitive capital

The pace of change brought on by the rise of artificial intelligence is significant. A report from Oxford University predicts that 47% of total US employment is at high risk of being taken over by automation within a decade or two.

“Consumers will look to maximise their cognitive capital. There will be the rise in multiple economic personalities, with life-long up-skilling. These are liquid skills – flexible, upgraded and discarded as necessary,” said Dominic Harrison director of global trends.

More than half ( 52%) highly value learning new skills as part of their entertainment/leisure and this also fits in with the trend for ‘slash living’ (e.g where people describe themselves as model/blogger/copywriter).

The Future Foundation also found that those who expect to re-skill in future tend to be in lower risk employment categories and those that don’t expect to, are more likely to be in high risk categories. “Governments and employers need to think how can they intervene and encourage constant skill building in life,” said Harrison.

2. Fintech

Investment in financial technology – Fintech – increased by 45.8% between 2014 and 2015 with $13.7bn invested in it last year.

Kerry Rheinstein, head of nVest and account director pointed out that traditional financial services companies had much to be afraid of from this new sector. “Every part of the finance sector is under attack from fintech,” she said.

And one interesting consequence has been that it is allowing developing markets, which may have previously been held back by limited infrastructure, to leapfrog and catch up with developed countries.

By 2018, it is predicted that 66% of 16- to 24-year-olds will be using mobile payments.

3. Solo self

A demographic change is taking place with the rise of solo living – 26% of households in the UK are single occupancy ( 32% in Japan, 41% Scandinavia) and the majority are older people. Ten percent of UK parents are single.

There is also a normalisation of social activities that are generally considered communal, to be carried out in isolation. For example 30% in Sweden eat a meal alone, 52% in US exercise alone and 28% in Japan drink alcohol alone.

And some of the most significant launches in media in 2016 – Occulus Rift and PSVR – will fit with this trend.

“VR is not necessarily a solo experience but it is a very self-focused experience – the world moves with you and you feel like you’re the centre of the universe,” said Laura Dennehy, commissioning editor.

4. Impulsive existence

Pre-booking and pre-planning is making way for spontaneity. Twenty-two percent of Chinese agree with the statement ‘I often make plans at the last minute’, rising to 45% of British respondents.

And the fear of missing out (FOMO) has become a key driver – and potentially a powerful marketing tool – with more women than men sharing #fomo on social media.

This is also seen in impulse shopping – 4 in 10 global consumers would like to pay online with just one click.

5. Generation Z

This is the group born between 1999 and 2007 – while most of Generation Y have had access to digital tech in their teens, for Generation Z, who have never known life without it, it is an extension of themselves. “Tech is a companion and a friend. If they are shy, they’ll be shy on social media, if they are show-offs, they’ll be show-offs on social media,” said Christophe Jouen, CEO.

They are less interested in Facebook – 17% of 16- to 24-year-olds use Facebook every day but it falls to 8% of 12- to 15-year-olds. For Gen Z technology is more about being used for creativity rather than for showing off.

And their attitudes are less rebellious than previous generations. When asked, ‘what do you want most for the future?’ 52% of seven to 15-year-olds said a good career and only 14% to be famous.

There is a loss of independence compared with previous generations and they spend more time with their family. More than half ( 56%) of seven to 11-year-olds and 67% 12- to 15-year-olds agree that ‘the rules my parents make are fine’.

6. Wishlisting

The path to purchase is getting shorter but it’s also getting longer – 78% compare prices; 66% shop around extensively. But as the path can extend and extend, it gets to the point where it never ends – and this is the wishlisting trend.

One in four people see wishlisting as a valuable form of entertainment. “It’s a form of vicarious consumerism, it’s not shopping, it’s leisure. In the future some of your most loyal consumers will have no intension of buying from you,” said Will Seymour, brand officer.

7. 21st Century hedonism

The pursuit of pleasure and fun is more complex these days as the pressure to be moderate and in control increases. Four in five people now moderate their alcohol consumption to some degree.

There are a few consequences such as the rise in ‘offsetting’ and an increase in guilt-free experiences such as alcohol-free raves. Increased spontaneity is also evident in this trend with things such as the Uncover app offering last minute reservations that become available at exclusive restaurants.