We were lucky enough to discover TrendWatching’s ‘5 Trends for 2019’ Webinar, presented by David Mattin on Youtube on our yearly customary quest for trends. Though we were on the lookout for the foreseeable future of graphic design (for which a new post
will be coming soon), David’s analysis and take on consumer trends proved to be very powerful and influential on a much broader scope. A scope that most certainly extends out to and affects design of all kinds. If you haven’t done so, we highly
recommend you head on over to the link below and take an hour off your schedule to observe, and maybe a day to absorb the information imparted in this inspiring presentation.
Before listing out the trends it’s important to understand what trends are and why new ones emerge. What we call trends are, in essence, the way the majority of the population chooses to express culture. And culture is the way we interpret ourselves and
everything around us, and going one step further, our interpretations are heavily reliant on and influenced by our deeper, baser needs. The renewal of trends is nothing more than the discovery of new ways to serve those basic human needs, powered
by our constant search for novelty. Having established this link between trends and needs, David goes on to list the five he and the researchers at TrendWatching found to be the most prominent.
The first basic human need that is addressed is authenticity. Authenticity is the desire, the aim humans have to live in alignment with their values. We all try to head where our moral compass points to and, in turn, expect others to put in the same
effort. However, as the world grows increasingly complex, and governments become ever more incompetent, consumers start to turn to brands with a strange new expecation. Labelled ‘The Law of the Brand’, we are seeing companies start to not only
stand for, but to take action for what they believe. A prime example of this is Patagonia (www.patagonia.com), a clothing and gear brand, attempting to sue Donald Trump over his decision to reduce the size of two
national monuments in Utah, Bear Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante. Patagonia, which already donates 1% of its annual sales in the name of environemental activism, decided to take action against by filing a lawsuit agains the current administration,
a move not expected of a commercial brand.
A prime example of this is Patagonia (www.patagonia.com), a clothing and gear brand, attempting to sue Donald Trump over his decision to reduce the size of two national monuments in Utah, Bear Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante.
Patagonia, which already donates 1% of its annual sales in the name of environemental activism, decided to take action against by filing a lawsuit agains the current administration, a move not expected of a commercial brand.
See: Patagonia vs. Trump – NY Times,
Patagonia CEO: Why we’re suing Trump –
Patagonia is Suing the Trump
Administration – GQ
Similarly, Beautycounter (www.beautycounter.com), a clean-beauty company galvanized 100 of their top sellers to lobby in Capitol Hill in support of the Personal Care Products Safety Act, a bipartisan bill that
aims to promote transparency in the beauty product industry and give the FDA more control over the chemicals used in the production of cosmetic products. It’s a surprising move by a company that stands to benefit from the freedom to choose
the chemical composition of their products.
See: Forget Cadillacs, These Beauty
Consultants Want Political Change – Refinery29
Beautycounter.com is in D.C. right now
lobbying for more stringent cosmetic safety laws – FastCompany
2019, David points out, will be the year where corporate responsibility jumps out of the last pages of annual reports and onto the streets, courtrooms, and maybe for the first time ever, justifiably into the hearts of consumers.
The next basic human need David tackles is self-improvement. The age of sex, drugs, and rock and roll gave way to the age of the selfie - obsession not just over how one looks in photos, but the general wellbeing of oneself. We always knew a healthy
lifestyle was important to maintain but with the advent of wristbands, rings, scales, and apps that could measure and quantify our every choice, we were constantly reminded of it. Gamefied, categorized, and presented colorfully, the endless
health metrics at our disposal slowly but surely pushed us into the test it and fix it mindset. And as always brands started to creatively serve this technologically morphed basic desire of ours.
For example, Kolibri, the British beverage brand (kolibridrinks.co.uk), teamed up with Beatson Clark to design a bottle in which the consumer chooses the amount of sugar they wish to infuse their drink with. The
cap houses the sweetening mix allowing the consumer freedom to pour as much of it as they would like. Kolibri is, in a creative and flashy manner, giving its buyers freedom over what they consume and how much of it they consume, in essence
authority over their health choices.
On the more technological side of the spectrum, WorkoutMental released Timeshifter (
www.timeshifter.com), an app created to tackle the frequent traveler’s most inconvenient malady, jetlag. They list as their advisors PhDs who have worked with Formula 1 and NASA, and claim to have made use
of the latest research into sleep and circadian neuroscience. In a true test it and fix it fashion, the app aims to provide a personalized approach based on a broad set of questions the user is asked to answer about their ‘sleep pattern, chronotype,
flight plan and personal preferences’.
Nestle is trialing DNA-personalized diets, Coca-Cola is talking about releasing a cannabis drink, and the list goes on. It seems like self-improvement, this year, will be addressed in a manner appropriate to the latest findings in science and
medicine, and packaged in a way that offers the consumers full control over their choices.
Moving on, another basic human need that has been affected by the latest developments is fairness. We love to tout the ‘Life is not fair’ idiom whenever we catch a bad case of the holier-than-thou illness but we expect fairness in the systems
we operate within. With the silent rise of AI and the varying algorithms that have taken control of the old systems, consumers have started to demand brands prove their virtual entities are acting fair as well.
In response to this demand, global brands have been experimenting with using the latest in technology to aid them in pinpointing discriminatory practices. The Financial Times, in an attempt to bring more voice to women experts have created a bot
that automatically detects if their journalists are quoting too many men and warns them accordingly.Facebook, on the other hand, is trying to tame the technology itself. The company built a system called Fairness Flow which detects biases
in their job recommendation algorithms.
See:A bot now tells Financial Times
reporters if they’re only quoting men – NiemanLab
Facebook starts building AI with an
ethical compass – CNet
The attempts may be primitive and the areas brands are trying to implement fairness in may be very limited now but it seems to be the start of a wave that we will see gather momentum in 2019.
On a more entertaining note, we come to the fourth basic human need that is being served in new, and this time, quirky ways: play. And a big part of entertainment, in fact the very essence of entertainment for humans has been stories, and storytelling.
What started out as myths turned into modern myths, evolved into media, and then through a massive growth spurt became the all encompassing mass media. Media that we are now eerily immersed in. Americans spend, on average, 11 hours a day interacting
with media, a little under half of the entire day. That fact may sound shocking but when the term media broadens and engulfs everything it comes as no surprise.
Now the boundaries between what is real and what is fiction are starting to fade and brands are playing that to their advantage. Macau Theme Park and Resort Limited have announced that they will be building a hotel that is designed with the theme
of Line Friends, the emojis used within the famous messaging app Line. What were once small graphics used to convey emotion in our phones, now come to life in the rooms we sleep in - essentially a crossover from the fictional world into the
Nike, pairing up with PostVisual, decided to take the opposite approach and move the real world into the fictional. By visiting their website, visitors would pick up a code, create an avatar, and within Instagram join a virtual line for a chance
at winning the lastest sneakers Nike was releasing. More than 80,000 ‘sneaker-heads’ joined the line during the 2 week campaign and Nike got more exposure than it could ask for
See:How PostVisual and Nike #AIRMAXLINE
Got ‘Sneaker Heads’ Waiting in Line on Instagram – Little Black Book
The concept of play was always one ripe for exploration and creativity, but it seems in 2019 we may have to add eerie and uncanny into the mix.
Because of the many deep implications it has on humans, and because of the many ways it can be addressed, the final basic human need is the same as the first: authenticity. This time round, however, it isn’t about brands serving but rather redeeming
themselves. With a lot of irresponsibility and recklessness going on, consumers have slowly adopted a very cynical outlook and are looking for brands to prove to them they’re wrong.
Luckily, a lot of companies are actually putting in quite a bit of effort in solving pressing problems, and on top of that are open sourcing their solutions. Starbucks and Mcdonalds, for example have joined forces to create a completely renewable,
compositable takeaway cup, a task that though it may sound easy, in reality is garguntuan in complexity. Once they do find a solution they plan on sharing it. Ford, Uber, and Lyft are planning on sharing data they collect from their rides
with the cities they operate in, in order to help better understand traffic flow and plan accordingly. AllBirds (www.allbirds.com), an environmentally friendly footwear company, is giving away their breakthrough
shoe design wherein they make the soles of the shoes not using EVA (fossil fuel based) but sugar cane. Data that is normally withheld being shared, designs that are normally patented opensourced, and unexpected cooperation of rivals working
to save the environment are all examples of how big brands seem to have finally started to see the responsibility they have towards themselves, their customers, and the planet itself. Here’s to hoping 2019 will be the brands drive optimism
and spur hope.
To sum up, 2019, according to the analysis of David and his colleagues at TrendWatching is going to be a year where brands put on a bannister wig, help us make better decisions, teach their bots morality, give away their secrets in the name of
goodwill, and turn the shadows in Plato’s cave to reality. ‘May you live in interesting times’ was delivered once upon a time as a curse. It seems it just might be a blessing.