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Trends with Tension

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Newton’s Third Law of Physics states “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction” – and Y&R’s Global Planning Director Sandy Thompson has found this to be true for consumer trends, as well. She and her global planners put together "Trends with Tension," a new report that examines how emerging trends tend to have two, oppositional sides.

Published in: Marketing

Trends with Tension

  1. 1. A look towards 2015
  2. 2. Y&R PLANNING TRENDS WITH TENSION 1. DNA WILL SAVE US/ DNA WILL DESTROY US 2. THE NEUTRALIZATION OF GENDER/ THE RETURN OF GENDER 3. BRANDS WILL SERVE US/ BRANDS WILL CONTROL US 4. TECH WILL DISAPPEAR (FROM SIGHT)/ TECH WILL DISAPPEAR 5. TECH WILL ENABLE CONNECTIONS/ TECH WILL DISCONNECT US 6. TWEETS WILL IMPRISON YOU/ TWEETS WILL FREE YOU 7. EDUCATION FOR ALL/ EDUCATION FOR ONE 8. RISE OF ROBOT/ RISE OF CRAFTSMAN CRUNCHED SAID OBSERVED SEARCH IT Every year, the planners at Y&R share insights about how the world around us is changing. But the reality is that it’s never black and white. At a macro level, every behavior, observation and perspective has an inherent tension. Every trend has a countertrend. Mary Anthony I Vanessa Cameron I Juliette Cilia Jeremy Daly I Tara Fray I Mary Mazza I Rebecca Menges Susanne Raymond I John Swan
  3. 3. DNA WILL DESTROY US IN THE WRONG HANDS, GENETIC KNOWLEDGE WILL DESTROY LIVES, JOBS AND MORALITY AS WE KNOW IT. DNA carries a person’s identity. It also carries a vast amount of other information about that person’s biology, health and, increasingly, psychological predispositions —a situation ripe for abuse by insurers, employers, politicians and civil servants. The line between proactively managing your health and playing God —or a world of data transparency and a world ruled by Big Brother—will be only too easy to cross. UNDERSTANDING OUR GENETIC MAKEUP WILL ERADICATE DISEASE, REUNITE FAMILIES AND BRING JUSTICE TO THE INNOCENT. Armed with unparalleled genetic testing capabilities, individuals and medical professionals alike will predict, diagnose and prevent more conditions and diseases than ever before. In just a few generations, diabetes and cancer will be history. And by connecting long-separated family members and exonerating the unjustly imprisoned, genetic data will not only enrich but save lives. DNA WILL SAVE US
  4. 4. The Equal Opportunity Commission reports that genetic-discrimination complaints were up 20% just over the last 12 months. ”In the last ten years alone we have gone from collecting DNA only from convicted sex offenders to now including people who have been arrested but never convicted of a crime. There have even been proposals to store newborns’ DNA for future use by law enforcement. Although we have already entered the realm of the ‘Brave New World,’ it is not too late to turn back.” —Barry Steinhardt, Associate Director of the ACLU Toothpicks, gum, tampons…they’re all discreet DNA samples that can be used by the genetic-testing company easy DNA. Imagine the opportunity for genetic discrimination— what if a discarded tissue from a prospective employee could be tested to determine their likely medical expenses? Since the 1990s, the prospect of futuristic technologies like human cloning or selecting for superhuman traits have stoked public fears about “designer babies”— while tests like Sequenom’s MaterniT21 PLUS provoke cries of “ethnic cleansing in the womb” and “geneticide.” DESIGNER BABIES DNA WILL DESTROY US DNA WILL SAVE US According to the Innocence Project, there have been 316 post-conviction DNA exonerations in the United States; 18 of those exonerated served time on death row. “Just had annual physical. Doc said I was his 1st patient to bring in my genetic results. We altered test as a result of knowledge!” @23andMe Genetic counselors joke that in their world, time is now divided into “Before Angelina Jolie” and “After Angelina Jolie”— but the reality is that the celebrity’s actions merely thrust the spotlight on a growing trend. The human genome has been mapped for over a decade, and the success of companies like 23andMe shows that our appetite for personal genetic data has merely been whetted. By 2020, Americans will have spent $25 billion a year on genetic tests for everything from diagnosing types of kidney diseases to determining breast cancer risk to screening prenatal health. Genetic modification of eggs will eliminate hereditary diseases— before they can be inherited. THE GOOGLE OF SPIT
  5. 5. THE DAYS OF GENDER NEUTRALITY ARE OVER. In a world where men and women can be whomever—and whatever— they want, we see a future where each gender returns to the security and predictability of traditional norms —purely because they can. Whether it’s men proving their manliness through Tough Mudder, or women electing to return to the days of bodice-slimming corsets, the future of gender lies in the past. THE RETURN OF GENDER THE NEUTRALIZATION OF GENDER GENDER WILL SOON BECOME A DEFUNCT TERM. We’re eschewing the typical “male” and “female” categories for a gender-agnostic approach that allows for self-expression outside of traditional lines. There’s no doubt that men’s and women’s roles have become less strictly defined; many families have made the male and female roles more egalitarian when it comes to jobs, housework and childcare. From unisex baby names and toys to fragrances and clothing, we’re clearly moving toward a world where gender will be an archaic distinction.
  6. 6. Today, about 25% of people still believe that a woman’s primary duty revolves around taking care of her home and family. As Emily Matchar, author of Homeward Bound observes, younger generations are returning to traditional gender norms and roles: “A generation of smart, highly educated young people are spending their time knitting, canning jam, baking cupcakes, gardening and more (and blogging about it, of course), embracing the labor-intensive domestic tasks their mothers and grandmothers eagerly shrugged off. Some are even turning away from traditional careers and corporate culture for slower, more home-centric lifestyles.” The perceived feminization of society and devaluing of masculinity has spurred evangelists such as the ReturnOfKings.com, a website that bills itself as “a blog for heterosexual, masculine men” and laments that “yesterday’s masculinity is today’s misogyny.” “When I see a man drinking bourbon, I expect him to be the kind who could build me a bookshelf. But not in the way that one builds a ready-made bookshelf. He will already know where the lumber yard is. He’ll get the right amount of wood without having to do math. He’ll let me use the saw, and not find it cute that I don’t know how to use the saw…” —A recent ad for Woodford Reserve Bourbon FEMININE POWER THE RETURN OF GENDER THE NEUTRALIZATION OF GENDER 77% of Gen X women say they identified as “tomboys” as children, compared to 69% of Boomer women and 46% of Senior women. THUS SPOKE THE LORDE “Prescribed ideals how girls should look are over… I am feminine, but I really love dressing in boys’ clothes too.” —Teen Vogue Germany’s federal government is taking gender politics into bold new territory. Since November 2013, parents of newborn children have no longer been forced to identify the sex of their baby as either male or female: now they have a third gender, called simply “X.” An English couple raised their child as gender neutral for five years so the infant’s “real personality” could shine through, stating: “We wanted to challenge gender stereotypes and so if Sasha wants to dress up in girls’ clothes, then so be it. But we are not forcing it.” GENDER NEUTRALITY
  7. 7. BRANDS WILL CONTROL US BRANDS WILL BECOME THE NEXT GENERATION OF LOBBYISTS. As public trust in government hits new lows, brands are encroaching on the roles and responsibilities of our governments. But instead of advocating on behalf of the consumer constituency, brands will become synonymous with the interests of corporations and shareholders. ACTIVIST BRANDS WILL BECOME THE PRIMARY AGENTS OF CHANGE. Where governments have failed, brands will lead. From acting on climate change to fighting for civil rights, brands will become increasingly empowered— if not expected — to advocate for causes on behalf of consumer interests. BRANDS WILL SERVE US
  8. 8. BRANDS WILL CONTROL US 213th: Google’s ranking in federal lobbying spending, now on par with the largest US corporations, according to the Washington Post. Lobbying Spend By Company (2012) Forget NASA, Elon Musk’s SpaceX is taking over space flight missions to the International Space Station: “You’ll be able to land anywhere on Earth with the accuracy of a helicopter, which is, I think, something a modern spaceship should be able to do.” Facebook and Google have more data than any government agency— prompting additional scrutiny on the amount of consumer data the social network can— and should— store. Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and KFC are just a few of the brands associated with lobbying against raising the minimum wage, despite consumer backlash. BRANDS + LOBBYING BRANDS WILL SERVE US 80% of consumers want companies and brands to actively drive social change…and corporate brands spend an astounding total of $18B annually on charitable efforts that, if utilized effectively, could transform not only their business but society as a whole. “Global brands are the only ones who will ever have any incentive to improve environmental sustainability and labor practices, precisely because they are the only ones who will be held to account for their actions.” —Matt Browne, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress Brands are flexing their voices in protest: 13 brands— including Kia and Corona— pulled millions of dollars in sponsorship money from the Clippers NBA team in protest of racist conversation from Donald Sterling, the team’s owner, effectively dictating how the league would respond. Brands are taking a stand against social injustice: Thirty global brands demanded the Cambodian government investigate the killing and detention of garment workers in the capital city of Phnom Penh earlier this year, or risk losing business. BRAND ACTIVISM
  9. 9. TECH WILL DISAPPEAR WE WILL BECOME NEO-LUDDITES. Instead of technology becoming a seamless part of our lives, we see a return to a simpler time where connections are made face to face, privacy is authentic and consumers regain control. Say hello to a generation of technophobes. WE WILL BECOME ONE WITH TECHNOLOGY. The era of separate devices is over; as technology is embedded in everything we wear— and potentially even ourselves— technological and human intelligence will become indistinguishable. Mainstream adoption of wearables is merely the beginning of a sweeping transition to technology that is no longer distractingly visible, but seamlessly invisible. TECH WILL DISAPPEAR (FROM SIGHT)
  10. 10. TECH WILL DISAPPEAR Give it a break: Over two-thirds of Facebook users have taken a “hiatus” from the social network at some point; and the National Day of Unplugging is a thing. “I felt like I needed something like this, I felt pulled in a lot of directions. My phone was always going off. I wanted an excuse to put it away and not respond to anybody.” —Digital Detox camp participant Sacred “no tech allowed” spaces are increasingly popular. Technologically dependent professionals are willing to shell out $550+ a ticket to attend tech-free retreats like the aptly named “Camp Grounded” in Navarro, CA. Technology-free Zen is now a service: Chicago’s Hotel Monaco now offers digital detox or “black-out” services, while “The Check-in to Check-out” package at Lake Placid Lodge invites guests to leave their electronic devices at the front desk to immerse themselves in “the serenity of the Adirondacks” —not the frenzy of their Twitter feed. DIGITAL DETOX TECH WILL DISAPPEAR (FROM SIGHT) Smartband sales alone are expected to nearly quadruple by the end of 2014; by the end of 2016, at least 1 out of every 10 Americans will own a wearable device. “I think the best technologies…[even Twitter] fade into the background…they’re relevant when you want to use them, and they get out of the way when you don’t. [In the future] technology disappears from our sight completely.“ —Twitter founder Jack Dorsey Beyond Google Glass and Android Wear: Wearables are transforming our daily interactions and disrupting industries from security to health. Forget the car keys: Google has obtained FDA approval for an edible “authentication microchip” that would essentially turn our bodies into biological authentication systems for cellphones, cars, doors and other devices. Next Generation health: Simband, an upcoming health-tracking wristband from Samsung, promises to monitor health measures ranging from your heart rate to your hydration level. UNSCREEN SCREENS
  11. 11. TECH WILL DISCONNECT US IN A HYPER-CONNECTED WORLD, WE WILL BECOME INCREASINGLY DISCONNECTED. As our virtual networks explode, our comfort with interpersonal intimacy plummets. Spontaneity and vulnerability are replaced by premeditated responses and painstakingly curated public personae. As technology becomes increasingly sophisticated, we will only become more and more isolated— leading to the demise of empathy and collective society. TECH WILL ENABLE CONNECTIONS TECHNOLOGY CREATES AND DEEPENS MEANINGFUL CONNECTIONS THAT WOULD OTHERWISE BE IMPOSSIBLE. Grandma can be present at your Thanksgiving table, even when she’s three thousand miles away. From shirts that help convey our emotions to operating systems that advise on relationships, technology continues to evolve in ways that fuel human relationships.
  12. 12. TECH WILL DISCONNECT US 39% of surveyed Americans spend more time socializing on social media than they do face to face. Interestingly, the rate of “chronic loneliness” among those 45+ in the US has almost doubled over the last decade— and it’s the source of unhappiness for 1 out of every 5 Americans. “I fear that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.” – Albert Einstein Never underestimate the value of human contact. Albertsons LLC, a grocery chain operating 217 stores in seven Western and Southern states, replaced all self-checkout lanes with standard or express lanes. As a corporate spokeswoman explained, “ We just want the opportunity to talk to customers more.” The Pew Research Center found that half of American teenagers send 50 or more text messages a day and that one-third send more than 100 a day. Two-thirds of the texters surveyed by the center’s Internet and American Life Project said they were more likely to use their cell phones to text friends than to call them. Fifty-four percent said they text their friends once a day, but only 33 percent said they talk to their friends face to face on a daily basis. LOUIS CK HATES CELL PHONES TECH WILL ENABLE CONNECTIONS More than a third of marriages between 2005 and 2012 began online. 11% of American adults have used an online dating site or a mobile dating app. “Social media has completely altered the landscape of communication for today’s military families...we often hear about ‘the green dot’ – which on the surface signals that someone is available for Chat. Military families who have deployed service members tell us that for them, this is a sign that their loved one is OK.” —Stephanie Himel-Nelson, Blue Star Families Communications Director Outsourcing your emotional intelligence: Facial expression recognition experts at Emotient are exploring partnerships with devices like Google Glass to equip wearers with built-in intelligence to automatically assess a subject’s emotional state. Bring your dating guru with you: The Romantimatic app purports to help even the most clueless among us to maintain a strong romantic partnership; users benefit from daily or weekly reminders to text their partners, with a variety of pre-written messages at their disposal. “REMEMBER ME” HOLOCAUST PROJECT
  13. 13. TWEETS WILL FREE YOU THE CHARGE TO RECLAIM ONLINE PRIVACY WILL BE LED BY THE SAVVIEST OF THE DIGITAL GENERATION: TEENAGERS. Having grown up online, these digital natives have seen firsthand the very real dangers of connectivity – from government surveillance to cyberbullying. Unwilling to sacrifice self-expression for safety, they are at the forefront of a global transition from identity to anonymity. TWEETS WILL IMPRISON YOU WE LIVE IN AN ERA WHERE “YOU ARE WHAT YOU POST”, AND THE DANGERS OF T.M.I. HAVE NEVER BEEN MORE REAL. The proliferation of social media in our culture has resulted in an epidemic of rampant “over sharing.” Whether it’s a lewd picture, an inappropriate tweet or a less-than-flattering video, the ramifications of indiscriminate sharing online will only become more serious. Social media will become the number one source of self-incrimination.
  14. 14. 15 million Facebook users in the US have deleted their Facebook accounts due to privacy concerns. “American teenagers are far more concerned about online privacy and data collection than twenty-somethings in a ‘post-Snowden era,’ spurring a rise in apps and websites that prevent tracking or guarantee anonymity, like Snapchat, Whisper, Secret, Kik, and Vox.” —Jamie Gutfreund, Chief Strategy Officer, The Intelligence Group In some ways, anonymity fulfills a deep-seated need– and has been a staple in traditional print for years. (Think back to “Dear Abby” or the now-ubiquitous “embarrassing moments” column, pioneered by YM magazine back in 1932.) What does that mean for modern day? In case you didn’t get the memo, ephemerality is hot. Today, a new generation of apps now cater to a desire for anonymous secret sharing (Whisper, Secret), off-the -record messaging (Confide, Blink, Ansa, Telegram) and impermanent media sharing (Snapchat, Wickr). EPHEMERAL APPS TWEETS WILL FREE YOU TWEETS WILL IMPRISON YOU There was a 540% increase in crimes linked to Facebook from 2007-2011, according to London Police. Hidden in the Twittersphere are nuggets of info that can predict a crime before it happens. Researchers at UVA’s Predictive Technology Lab found geo-tagged tweets to be useful in predicting 19 out of 25 crimes before they happen! “Criminals are sometimes quite brazen with what they post online, creating evidence of their crime in a way that would never occur with a traditional verbal threat. We have had trials against gang members where we have presented defendants’ own Facebook posts in which they are wearing gang colors and posing with guns.” —US Attorney Barbara McQuade In our online-obsessed culture, we crave validation and self-expression. Yet one wrong move can have tremendous repercussions for students, job seekers and politicians alike. Take the career-ending Twitter and sexting gaffs by pols like Anthony Weiner, or the suspension of students in Mahopac, NY, for posting racist tweets after the school lost a basketball game. And that sketchy photo of you shotgunning a beer on Facebook? Trust me, recruiters have seen it. PREDICTIVE POLICING
  15. 15. EDUCATION FOR ONE SO-CALLED “ADVANCES” IN EDUCATION WILL ONLY WIDEN THE GAP BETWEEN THE HAVES AND THE HAVE NOTS. Not long ago, digital education was introduced as the great equalizer, but today quality education as an “inalienable right” ceases to exist. The magic formula— adaptive online learning programs plus high-touch instruction— will continue to be a luxury reserved for the wealthy, ensuring that elite education remains for the elite. EDUCATION FOR ALL FOR THE FIRST TIME, QUALITY EDUCATION WILL BECOME AVAILABLE TO ALL 8 BILLION OF US. We see a more flexible approach to education, powered by technology, that will satisfy the needs of all types of learners— regardless of socioeconomic background, geographic location or learning style. What was once a utopian dream will become a reality: P.S. world will have a 100% enrollment (and graduation) rate.
  16. 16. EDUCATION FOR ONE Don’t underestimate hightouch: The Education Industry Association reports that private tutoring is a $5B+ industry, growing at a steady clip of 5% a year— with tutors charging up to $400 an hour. “The most unfortunate likely result of ‘distance’ and interactive learning will be the acceleration of the stratification of education by class and income. Those with more income will have access to a richer, less ‘virtual’ educational experience.” —Pew Research,“The Future of Higher Education” The individuals the MOOC revolution is supposed to help the most—those without access to higher education in developing countries—are underrepresented among the early adopters. 80% of MOOC students come from the wealthiest and most well educated 6% of the population. In the provocative video “Online Ed: Teaching Millions or Making Millions?”, the Campaign for the Future of Higher Education argues that the motivations behind MOOCs are far from altruistic. The piece goes so far as to compare the rise of online education to the subprime mortgage crisis, accusing startups like Coursera, edX and Udacity of profiting from false advertising. “Bottom line: That promise of free high-quality education for those who need it most? It just doesn’t add up…. [but] despite the failure to deliver, online boosters still promote themselves as new-age saviors.” PRIVATE SCHOOL TUTORING EDUCATION FOR ALL According to Enterasys Networks, in a few short years 43% of universities will offer massive open online course (MOOCS), up 30% from today. “Nothing has more potential to lift more people out of poverty— by providing them an affordable education to get a job or improve in the job they have. Nothing has more potential to unlock a billion more brains to solve the world’s biggest problems. And nothing has more potential to enable us to reimagine higher education than the massive open online course.” —Thomas Friedman, The New York Times, January 2013 Smart, the Philippines largest telecom company, partnered with textbook authors and publishers to transform old analog phones into Smart TXTBKS. By storing lessons on unused SIM cards, this simple technological innovation makes lessons easier, cheaper and lighter for public school students who don’t have tablets and can’t afford— or carry— heavy textbooks. The results? Backpacks were 50% lighter, attendance shot up to 95% and test performance reached 90%. Online education created around you: Education technology company Knewton offers interactive digital courses that teachers can personalize to fit the needs of each student. Lessons are adjusted based on real-time analysis of student performance, turning data into actionable insights like: “Hi Brian. You solve math problems in the morning between 8:32 a.m. and 9:14 a.m.” ADAPTIVE LEARNING
  17. 17. THE POWER OF ROBOTICS IS REACHING AN INFLECTION POINT ACROSS MANY INDUSTRIES— IN TURN MAKING POSSIBLE A NEW LEVEL OF HUMAN INNOVATION, ENTERPRISE AND CREATIVITY. With its increased capabilities and adaptability, robotic technology will free humans from the most “dull, dangerous or dirty” jobs. Its power will disrupt established, atrophied business models and enable more people to develop and launch new ideas and and prompt a return to hands-on creativity. RISE OF THE CRAFTSMAN RISE OF THE ROBOT ROBOTIC TECHNOLOGY IS BECOMING INCREASINGLY SOPHISTICATED AND INCREASINGLY A REPLACEMENT FOR HUMAN LABOR. Robots are more powerful because they are being combined with the processing power of the Cloud and connected to the growing digital instrumentation of the physical world. Starting in factories and distribution centers, this rise is largely unseen. But soon more consumer-facing experiences will be served through robots— in turn unemploying many of America’s least empowered workers.
  18. 18. RISE OF THE CRAFTSMAN Over the last year, vintage and handmade e-commerce company Etsy grew over 70%, adding nearly 700k new members a month and becoming the largest single site on Pinterest. “What we have here is a post-industrial nostalgia for the pre-industrial.” Justin McGuirk, The Guardian Major brands are actively capitalizing on the Maker movement; Levi’s recently launched made-to-order jeans at its London flagship store, in tandem with a marketing blitz covering and sponsoring local artists and craftspeople. Companies like Custom Made and Hatch directly target the DIY market, enabling consumers to request one-of-a- kind products that are made-to-order by designers. MAKER MOVEMENT RISE OF THE ROBOT Global shipments of industrial robots nearly tripled from just 2009—2012. “We’re at a real inflection point in terms of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Things are speeding up.” —Erik Brynjolfsson, Andrew McAfee Race Against the Machine Amazon has turned to robotics to turbocharge its growth: With the acquisition of warehouse robotics manufacturer Kiva Systems, the e-commerce behemoth will cut costs, increase profitability and dramatically expand its reach. Advances in robotic technology have fueled the growth of intralogistic automation companies like Aetheon, whose TUG Robots have traveled over 1,000,000 miles and made over 50,000 deliveries a week— replacing countless porters and delivery people. JOBOCALYPSE
  19. 19. TARA.FRAY@YR.COM REBECCA.MENGES@YR.COM SANDY.THOMPSON@YR.COM

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