From Dopamine Packaging to Community Retail - What are the big trends for 2024?
VML's Future 100 Report reveals 100 micro trends spanning culture, creativity and connection in 2024. We look at the top six for brands to note
31 January 2024
In a post-COVID world dominated by rapid technological advancements, there's a growing desire for genuine human connections. This insight comes from VML's latest report, 'The Future 100: 2024', which outlines 100 trends shaping consumer behaviour in the coming year.
The report highlights a trend called 'The Great Deceleration,' where people are intentionally slowing down their lives and embracing mindfulness. This shift reflects a broader societal paradigm change, driven by technological advancements prompting questions about what it means to be human.
In this changing landscape, successful brands are those that foster emotional connections with consumers. Data from 'The Future 100: 2024' reveals that 79 per cent of respondents believe the role of brands has evolved over the past five years. The top three roles consumers associate with brands are making a positive impact on society (40 per cent), improving health and well-being (38 per cent), and contributing to a better future (32 per cent). This underscores the increasing importance of purpose-driven initiatives and emotional engagement in brand-consumer relationships.
"Community and connection at scale are essential to 2024, and consumers believe that technology helps bring people together. With most consumers looking for surprise, mystery, awe, and wonder in their lives, new experiences that engage a wide spectrum of emotions are in demand."
Emma Chiu and Marie Stafford, Co-Authors and Global Intelligence Directors at VML
The Future 100 report includes ten sectors, including Culture, Technology, Travel & Hospitality, Brands & Marketing, Food & Drink, Beauty, Retail, Luxury, Health, and Innovation. Marking its 10th anniversary, the report features original consumer data from surveys conducted across nine countries. Additionally, it includes insights from interviews with experts spanning various fields, offering reflections on the past decade and predictions for 2024.
With 100 micro trends that are set to span culture creativity and connection, below are six highlights brands should watch out for.
In 2024, Pantone's colour of the year, Peach Fuzz, reflects a shift towards tranquility and connection amidst global instability. It embodies qualities of belonging, growth, and peace, fostering a sense of calm and nurturing. Laurie Pressman, vice president of the Pantone Colour Institute, emphasises the human-centric aspect of this choice, noting an increased focus on community and the importance of being close to loved ones. Similarly, Dulux's Sweet Embrace and Sherwin-Williams' Upward emphasise warmth, positivity, and reflection, suggesting a trend towards mindful living and human-centric values. This collective move towards gentle, soothing colors hints at a year of introspection and reconnection, fostering a more thoughtful and enriching future.
Apple is set to release its Vision Pro mixed-reality headset in February for £3,499. This device aims to merge digital content with the real world, marking a notable effort to free digital interfaces from screens. A "guest mode" was announced in January, allowing others to try out the headset. During CES 2024, Sony partnered with Siemens to create a spatial content system, while Xreal introduced its Air 2 and Air 2 Pro lightweight AR glasses in October 2023. Niantic predicts that smart glasses and headsets will reduce the reliance on smartphones, marking the beginning of the spatial tech era. This advancement in immersive technology suggests significant growth in spatial computing, with the market projected to reach £280.5 billion by 2028 according to MarketsandMarkets.
In July 2023, Jell-O introduced its first rebrand in a decade, using vibrant colours and lively graphics to spark joy and imagination. Rebecca Williams, creative director at BrandOpus, aims to revive the brand's playful essence for all ages, presenting flavours in a sensory, inviting manner.
April 2023 saw Fanta's rebrand, marked by dynamic cartoon graphics and vibrant colours, conveying playful indulgence. Lisa Smith, from Jones Knowles Ritchie, collaborated with Coca-Cola, creating an intentionally informal design with a broad spectrum of colours.
Rapha Abreu of The Coca-Cola Company stresses the importance of spontaneous play in the brand's new identity, making it accessible to all ages.
Last February, 7UP revealed its fresh look, focusing on uplifting and joyful experiences for consumers. Mauro Porcini of PepsiCo explains the inspiration behind the new visual identity, aligning with the brand's uplifting positioning. This trend of injecting colour and positivity into branding resonates with a 2020 study by London's Science Museum Group, indicating consumers seek brands that evoke emotional joy.
Luxury resorts, such as Sensei Porcupine Creek in California and Clinique La Prairie (CLP) worldwide, are offering tailored programs focused on longevity and wellness. These programs incorporate cryotherapy, thermal body mapping, neuronutrition plans, and emotional strength training. Sensei Porcupine Creek, for instance, provides programs like Rest and Recover and the Optimal Wellbeing Program, while CLP offers a Longevity Index assessment to create personalized treatment plans.
Other operators, like Six Senses, are also entering the market with similar offerings, with locations in Turkey, the United States, and soon in Saudi Arabia. As people globally are living longer, with a projected increase in the elderly population by 2050, the demand for longevity-focused resorts is on the rise, reflecting a growing interest in maintaining health and vitality into old age.
Shopping districts, particularly in lower tiers, are facing challenges with footfall, as reported by Coresight Research in the United States. To combat this decline, community-centric initiatives are emerging. One such initiative involves developers investing in independent traders to foster a sense of community. In Poole, UK, a project by LGIM Real Assets has revitalized Kingland Crescent, previously a rundown shopping street, by offering rent-free units to local traders for two years. The focus is on creating intentional, place-based approaches that integrate key local services like healthcare and education.
Legal & General, offering mentoring and legal advice, hopes this model can be replicated in other struggling areas. In the US, malls catering to Asian customers are thriving due to their community-oriented atmosphere, offering entertainment and social spaces. Similarly, new developments like the Snøhetta-designed Airside in Hong Kong aim to foster connections within the community. Complementary offerings such as shared spaces by startups like Patch are also proving successful in driving footfall. These initiatives are significant as they address the declining sense of community reported by 56per cent of people in the UK, US, and China, filling the void left by disappearing public spaces.
AI is expected to have a significant impact on Generation Alpha, born between 2010 and 2024, similar to how smartphones and social media have influenced Generation Z. Children in this generation are growing up with emotionally intelligent AI companions like Miko 3 and Roybi AI robots, which aim to educate and form relationships with them. Toymint introduced TeddyGPT in April 2023, a toy powered by OpenAI that promises customised interactions based on each child's preferences. Allan Wong, CEO of VTech Holdings, predicts that by 2028, AI teddy bears will generate personalised stories for children. This generation's relationships will be influenced by their interactions with AI companions, leading to discussions about the authenticity of friendships.
AI is also expected to shape careers, with organisations using it to enhance efficiency in goods creation and distribution. As AI takes on mundane tasks, it will free up time for people to focus on creative and social ventures. This could lead Generation Alpha to be the most emotionally engaged, creative, and purposeful generation yet, equipped with tools to contribute to humanity.