Looking ahead towards 2020 and beyond, themes of redefining our past to pave way for the future appears numerous times. From inquiring about what constitutes as a museum and what the essence of a modern man is, to notions of gender equality powered by a controversial plant, what is projected to characterize the next decade encompasses themes of belonging, restructuring and the power of positivity.
1. Museums of Culture
These “made-for-instagram” exhibits are also posing as destinations for people to interact, create and connect. Could these spaces be the modern adaptation of American urban sociologist, Ray Oldenburg’s ‘s notion of “the third space”, whereby a public social space serves as an in-between abode away from work and home life that is inclusive and engaging, enabling meaningful connections between people.
Wellness spaces like meditation and yoga studios have become the new social hangouts of choice. “Millennials are a generation fascinated by self-actualization, self-improvement, and community and in finding spaces that enable them to experience all those things together.” (Well and Good) This new cultural hub that draws in consumers who become narrators who openly express themselves through discovery, education, connection and social storytelling.
How can brands create more authentic experiences to foster meaningful human connections and a sense of belonging?
2. Modern Masculinity
For decades, “masculinity” has been defined as a set of attributes, behaviours and roles with key identifiers as strong, handsome, driven. While some behaviours and attributes of masculinity are biologically influenced, culture has played a large role in its construction. With the rise of the #MeToo movement, toxic masculinity has led many to inquire about what it means to be a modern man.
Gillette’s “The Best A Man Can Get” campaign confronted the “boys will be boys” notion and has committed to a three-year plan to donate to organizations that help men achieve their personal best. GQ dedicated their latest issue to “The New Masculinity: An exploration of identity, culture and style in 2019.” Their State of Masculinity Survey reported that 73% of men wanted their friends to describe them as respectful, 71% as honest and 34% as gentle.
The shifting concept of masculinity has changed to accommodate the “everyman”; a man not constrained by boundaries, stereotypes or prejudices. A man not not tied to gender. A man who is true to himself. The modern man finds strength in vulnerability. He is a gamut of emotions: “soft, hard, emotional, joyous”. (Dazed Beauty) He is comfortable in his own skin and rises to the occasion to stand up for what is right. He is respectful, he is bold, he is intelligent, he is secure and he is aware and he is empathetic.
How can brands continue the conversation and cultural repositioning of modern masculinity to support and inspire?
3. Do-Gooder Influence
For the modern day brand it’s no longer trendy to be sustainable, empathetic or charitable; it’s mandatory. More and more consumers are not only showing brand loyalty to companies that are kind but are demanding an overhaul on corporations’ values and missions. “91% percent of affluent millennials say they’d switch brands to one that supports a good cause, while more than 85% overall would buy a product with a social or environmental benefit.” (Cone) In order for brands to not only survive, but also thrive, they must have a purpose-led vision that actively exercises a performance-based driven mission.
For those who aren’t waiting for government, big name conglomerate or global corporations to make a change, people and small businesses have become advocates of change. 16-year-old, climate activist, Greta Thunburg, has made waves with her radical influence, proving one voice can make a change from me to we. The Loop recycle program, based off the old-school milkman method, has piqued the interest of PepsiCo, Unilever, Mars, The Body Shop, Mondelez and Danone to participate in their mission to disrupt traditional plastic and fibre manufacturing by up-cycling waste. (Strategy) The fact that individuals and brands are banding together to make a difference, and ditching those who don't participate, demonstrates the immense influence brands have on our culture.
How can brands champion social good in an impactful and influential way to cultivate global goodness?
4. Spiritual Commoditization
From sacred healing powers of Palo Santo, new age sound baths, reiki treatments, and micro-dosing psychedelics, to the woo woo glamour of crystals, spirituality has become one of the most sought-after “commodities”. The global wellness economy is valued at $4.2 trillion with a 12.8% growth between 2015-2017, which means this category can only keep expanding. (Global Wellness Institute)
“The ethos of ‘self-care’ has infiltrated every consumer category. (The New York Times) Brands like Moon Juice, Four Sigmatic and Daydream are meeting the demand to support a greater interest in adaptogenic healing products that boost immunity and combat stress. Beverage companies are brewing up kombucha and juicing celery. Clean beauty brands are “selling serums infused with intuition, karma and healing.” (The New York Times)
What attracts people to investing time in their spirituality is finding a connection to something bigger than themselves. The movement away from traditional religion, towards more spiritual practices like tarot, astrology, meditation and energy healing provides a sense of freedom not typically seen in many religions. Astrologer, Chani Nichols thinks, "we’re yearning for something that technology cannot give us, that capitalism cannot give us.” (LA Times)
How can brands foster this greater sense of purpose people are craving and provide opportunities for people to build communities that thrive off of balance and wellness?
5. Women & Cannabis
Shedding the hippy-chic stoner status, cannabis, though still a controversial plant is budding around the globe. By 2020, the cannabis industry has experienced an enormous economic boom, with market projection to top $22B. (Brightfield Group) From its 2019 legalization in Canada to the overnight explosion of the CBD market, cannabis is at the forefront of consumer’s minds.
While cannabis is an under researched plant in the health and wellness sectors, its untapped potential for business opportunities cannot be overlooked. Since cannabis is fairly new to the business world, it creates equal opportunities for both men and women. Cannabis levels the playing field because it crosses into many product categories like food, beverage, alcohol, beauty and wellness while also providing the ability for cross-industry collaboration. Notably, more women are breaking barriers in the cannabis industry with brands like Eve, Foria and Marley Natural. Canadian brand Van der Pop, has an ongoing speaker series with female execs discussing culture shifts and business in cannabis and is committed to sharing true stories from real women about their cannabis experience, fostering an open, education and inclusive environment.
How might brands continue to empower cannabis education and provide equal opportunity by challenging the gender imbalance, while influencing other industries to be more inclusive?
6. Pursuit of Happiness
In a modern society where overly curated environments pervade our physical and visual landscapes, happiness is seemingly out of reach for many as loneliness, burnout, depression and anxiety increase among individuals. Millennials have become known as The Burnout Generation as they continue to hustle amidst a turbulent political climate fraught with rising housing costs and competitive job markets. As a result, wellness brands like Happy Tears and Happy Not Perfect have been established to champion the happiness movement by creating a global community of people who foster mindfulness and cultivate meaningful connections. This past year, Instagram took a stand and hid “like” counts to “reduce pressure” on the platform and promote a healthier and more creative online environment, or “social havens” for users. (JWT Intelligence).
Japanese philosophies are also greatly influencing Western culture by showing the importance of gratitude, embracing imperfection through Wabi Sabi, finding joy in simplicity and adhering to the Samari code, Bushido. Marie Kondo sparked joy in the lives of hoarders, welcoming gratitude for only possessions that bring personal happiness. Adopting a less-is-more motto with anti-excess consumerism; a move towards up-cycling and buying second-hand, like with fashion brands like Reformation, a sustainable women’s clothing brand and Depop, a peer-to-peer social shopping app.
How might brands utilize the power of happiness to make the pursuit attainable, shareable and profitable to culture as a whole?