What's in Store? A Cultural Eye on the Year Ahead

13 Jan 2014|Added Value

Culture is constantly changing. One idea can cross the planet in a single second, to millions of people. And brands need to keep up. We believe that looking at the changes in culture is vital. Seeing the small shifts that take place every year is rich stimulus for where brands should be looking and moving. It offers a valuable cultural perspective to spark inspiration and inform strategic direction.

Brands that anticipate cultural change stand a better chance of leading in their market, and being in tune with cultural trends means being in tune with where consumers will be in the future. We look for the emerging signs of cultural change before they happen in the mainstream. If you speak in today’s idiom, you create in today’s idiom. Speak in tomorrow’s and the future is all yours.

The most powerful marketing creates culture. Coke, the biggest brand on the planet, has reinvented itself for every generation by staying in touch with cultural trends and becoming part of the cultural conversation. By staying relevant to its markets and targets, Ikea has bucked global trends with sustained growth. And Nike rescued their brand by tapping into trends around women and sport, local communities, and niche sports. Being in touch with cultural shifts, Nestle were able to stay fresh and launch the innovative Nespresso on the crest of a wave, not once it had crashed.

We create our yearly trends by charting the macro movements in culture across a range of cultural fields (Creative Expression, Communities, Home & Leisure, Science & Technology, Wealth & Work, Environment & Nature, Identity & the Body, Ethics, Health & Wellbeing). These fields provide us with a constant framework to track change. We chart the large, slow-moving shifts that represent a tide of global change – these are the movements that change how people live, and are underpinned by strong social drivers. We also seek out the smaller, nimble expressions of how these shifts live and breathe in culture – these expressions are found in emerging and niche behaviours and happen at a much faster pace, they are often small or local to begin with, but grow over time.
Trends give vital sense of where culture is shifting, what is becoming more important, and what brands need to offer their customers.



We are increasingly expecting things to do more – to interact with more than one sense, to offer us a range of touch points to play with, and to involve us entirely in experiences.

Dragon skull

A 40-foot sculpture of a dragon’s skull was placed on a UK beach to promote the third season of HBO’s epic fantasy, Game of Thrones. The striking and dramatic spectacle suited the story perfectly, and helped it to live in the tangible world.

Perrier secret place

Perrier’s Secret Place is an interactive multi first-person experience. As you head into the secret party, you are tasked to uncover the clues that lead you to the ‘golden lady’ bottle. You are able to become any of the 60 guests in order to uncover the clues.


Super Personalised

Personalisation has been taken out of the hands and tastes of consumers. This is not just bespoke you select – it is also bespoke that selects you. Advances in technology mean that products are able to read consumers and give them what they want – sometimes without being asked.

Virgin mobile

Virgin Mobile’s advert allows the viewer to take control by blinking. Using webcam technology, the ad’s script remains the same, but the setting and actors alter dramatically every time the viewer blinks. There are plenty of scenes to work through – some stranger than others.

The NFC ring

The NFC ring enables wearers to balance data protection and sharing – from unlocking doors and mobile phones, to transferring information to link people. It acts like part of the body, and requires no updating or charging.



In a world of austerity and grown up responsibility, we are seeing the increasing desire to let go, to let loose and indulge in childlike freedom or sheer hedonistic joy.


Iconic boot makers, Dr Marten’s pushed their rebellious character into a much more child-like space by using characters from kid’s comic The Beano on their shoes and in their adverts.


At The End of the World Party guests are encouraged to party like its their last night on earth, and do the things they’ve always wanted to do but never dared.


Hyper Efficiency

We are seeking and discovering ever smarter and more efficient ways to solve age old issues – such as keeping fit, lack of space, and limited resources. The results are sleeker, quicker and utilise things that have previously been ignored.

Pigion tower

The Pigeon Tower is a creative solution to the growing number of pigeons in urban cities. The feathered pests are transformed into a valuable resource. The tower puts the waste from the pigeons back into the nutrient cycle as an urban natural fertiliser.


Climate CoLab is an online forum developed by MIT – it brings large numbers of citizens together to develop creative solutions to complex problems. It allows people to stimulate the effects of different courses of action, discuss issues, rate each other’s ideas and enter competitions for the best new idea.


The New Industrial Revolution

Science is no longer a closed world, just for geeks. Digital and technological advances are enabling us to create in new ways – leading to new creative forms, and helping us see a new appreciation of the digital as a thing of beauty.


The Code Club is a Nationwide volunteer-led after school coding club for children aged 9 to 11. It teaches children how to make computer games, animations and websites. Eventually, the children become in control of content.


UK Supermarket Asda is trialling a new 3D printer service that allows customers to scan and print anything in ceramic. They anticipate mini versions of people and pets will be the main draw.



In a world full of buzz and surface interactions, people are seeking more depth and meaning. They are craving time away from the stimulus of the internet, making their leisure time more about self-development, and taking their own ethical responsibilities seriously.

Phone face down

Undigitize Me is a think tank dedicated to raising awareness of smartphone addiction and researching methods for its treatment and rehabilitation. Their recent campaign published photos sent in of people doing daily activities with their phones faced down.


In an age of increasing individualism, Sunday Assembly has found an ever-growing audience for its secular sermons. People are attracted by the offer of a community experience of religion for those who don’t believe in a higher power. Their mission is to ‘help everyone find and fulfil their full potential’.


Image credits:

  • www.grindtv.com
  • www.fastcocreate.com
  • www.brandrepublic.com
  • www.kickstarter.com
  • www.shoesinternational.com
  • www.partyearth.com
  • www.designsonearth.com
  • www.climatecolab.org
  • www.tedxbrighton.com
  • www.theguardian.com
  • www.undigitizeme.com
  • www.thetimes.com
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