What Does Wunderman Thompson Intelligence’s 2.0 Report Predict for the Future of Global Trends?
In January of this year Wunderman Thompson Intelligence released ‘The Future 100’ report detailing the key trends they believed would be present in 2020. Then, the year and Covid-19 took a turn no predictions could foresee so the team at WT updated the report with ‘The Future 100 2.0.20’.
This 2.0 version highlighted 20 key global trends that have been fast-tracked by the outbreak, as well as five new trends that have come to light. Of the new ones, the Intelligence team found that optimism is on the rise, brands are rethinking communication strategies and working together more and gaming has become increasingly popular – and more.
To hear firsthand about these trends LBB’s Natasha Patel spoke to Wunderman Thompson Intelligence’s global director Emma Chui about the inspiration behind the report and how she believes markets will look in the next few months.
LBB> Where did the idea to create a second report come from?
Emma> The global pandemic created a lot of new protocols, habits and needs in a very short space of time. Our team released The Future 100 2020 report only in mid-January and by mid-March the world was in flux.
As we tracked new behaviours driven by Covid-19, it was also important to cross-check the relevance of our report released two months earlier—after all the report is a guide for the upcoming year. We learned that the trends we covered pre-pandemic were still relevant, in fact, many of the trends had accelerated. It was important to highlight this in a follow-up report, as we will all be referring to life pre-and-post pandemic for the foreseeable future.
LBB> How did you approach the research?
Emma> A lot of panic behaviour surfaced because of uncertainty around what lockdown means and how long it would last. It was important for us to separate behaviour spurred by a moment of panic and behaviours that will stick and stand the test of time. We are after the latter, and with that insight look at ways it can help inform what cultural impact it will have for people and businesses.
LBB> We’ve heard a lot about how the pandemic has accelerated trends and the adoption of tech that we were already aware of… but were any of the trends that you unearthed more of a surprise?
Emma> The number of people turning to uplifting stories and positivity during dismal and anxious times was interesting. It shows underlying human resilience and need for optimism. Also I’m impressed how nimble and altruistic people and companies can be in times of need, taking on philanthropic cues.
LBB> On the new language of advertising, there are a few examples mentioned but do you think that these trends will continue into the future or are they short term?
Emma> Human interactions are adapting to a post-pandemic world where we will be wary of unnecessarily touching surfaces and other people. New gestures and environmental setups will become a solution for at least the rest of 2020. Therefore, if brands stepped in to suggest a new contactless gesture that can replace the humble handshake, now is the time.
LBB> The gaming multiverse is a huge trend at the moment! What can brands do to be a forefront in the industry?
Emma> Start adopting gaming mechanics! It makes for engaging storytelling and is a format that many people have adopted, and with lockdown the numbers have increased. During self-isolation the virtual world became a way for people to escape to and build a so-called “third place”. If brands can be part of this third place, they will be able to reach a wider scope of audience.
LBB> New dining formats are an interesting trend - so while there are examples within the report has anything happened recently that’s been especially innovative?
Emma> Yes! As rules start to relax around the world, industries are cautiously opening back up and trying to stand out by incorporating novel dining experiences. In Sydney, Five Dock Dining places cardboard cut-outs of customers at tables and plays an audio of background “chatter” in an attempt to create a buzzy environment. Bar-B-Q Plaza in Bangkok use cardboard models of their dinosaur mascot to occupy seats.
More interestingly, the fine dining industry is going through a rethink. Noma recently reopened as a wine bar and burger joint — not really an innovation but it reveals what people are seeking as they come out of lockdown and that restaurants are responding to these needs.
LBB> Renewed faith and the rise of spirituality is definitely changing, do you think social media has a big impact on this?
Emma> Pre-Covid-19 a TikTok priest (David W. Peters) racked up two million views on one video by making priesthood relatable. This accessibility has accelerated at a time when people are in need for hope and direction. During home quarantine, social media has been a key source of information for many and this includes connecting with faith and spirituality.
LBB> Gamescape travel and online workout classes are booming, do you think the market will still have space for this in a year’s time?
Emma> Research suggests the travel industry may not return to “normal” until 2023. It will take time to learn whether people will trust safely travelling before a vaccine is available, but meanwhile the need for escape is clearly desired. Gamescape travel offers a taste of escapism which is essential now. But as the travel industry picks up this could evolve into marketing platforms and education tools.
LBB> Finally, what do you think the implications of the way the public has engaged with virtual travel and workout and learning trends, as well as the ‘gaming multiverse’ have for people’s willingness to engage with tech like VR?
Emma> The VR experience continues to evolve and many creators are exploring new storytelling formats that are less linear and more interactive. Until the hardware becomes more accessible and affordable it will be difficult for it to become a mass-market product. However, people are increasingly blurring their digital and real lives as one—rather than thinking of separate personas. There’s an openness to adopting new and different technologies. Bridging the gap between a novel one-off experience and one to engage with repeatedly is an area that needs to be considered.