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Beyond the Virus: 10 Consumer Trends Shaping the Post-COVID World

08 May 2020

Imagine travelling in time, and that it is now summer solstice - the late evening of June 21 ticking over into June 22, 2021 and the Swedish midsummer sun refuses to set...

On this day, June 22nd, in the year 2021 my son, Lucien (man of light) turns 4. It feels like we are only just emerging from a long hibernation. It is the first international family trip we have had for 2 years. Even though some international borders re-opened 6 months ago, the idea of being cooped up next to strangers in recycled air on the direct Qantas route from Sydney-London and onward to Stockholm somehow felt unhygienic, and the luxury of international travel to see my elderly parents in my native Sweden felt a bit tone-deaf at a time when western economies have been seeing unemployment rates of 10-30%IMG-7560 (1)

In June, 2021 the US economy is starting wake up - ironically powered at the help by the re-elected Donald Trump who has awoken to the science (and profit potential) of climate change and its emerging green economy

In the wake of the Wuhan-virus (which we now legitimately call by its place of origin given we name many diseases and viruses based on their provenance eg Spanish Flu, MERS, Hong Kong Flu) a new awareness of the cost and risks of factory farming are becoming clear and Beyond Meat alternatives are flourishing next to locally grown vegetables in legitimate farmers markets and grocery shops. Food waste in the supply chain is a thing of the past as Depression-era awareness of ensuring every dollar spent on food has long since been optimised. Global GDP growth was down -15% for 2020. Clearly, last year was not the '2020 Vision' we had all imagined back when that year sounded like a distant, futuristic horizon. We all felt like we lived through a bad science fiction movie (or a video game simulation). Yet, while the pure economic indicators were in the red, a new social and mental awakening had been occurring since the virus emerged. Digital traceability found that the virus was synthetic and this realisation, amongst others, led to massive genomic and healthcare investments including in bio-security and defence. 

As private citizens we are reminded each day that while the 4 first waves of the virus had taken millions of lives that technology adoption and rational responses to data like GPS / Bluetooth tracking, wearable technologies, combined with a new OCD focus on germophobia were the best barriers against this and other, now emerging superbugs. In Australian's Byron Bay, the anti-vaxxer capital of the world, science deniers have stood trial for manslaughter as have religious leaders for downplaying the effects of the virus and overestimating the effect of Kombucha and prayers on our immune systems.

Investment funds are leading the charge of a sustainable economy and ousting directors who are nostalgic for the old version of capitalism to return. Carbon neutrality and climate positive businesses are the only ones getting funded. Meanwhile, former social media 'influencers' have taken a massive hit as they are seen to lack awareness of the economic privation that has beset a large part of the global population, and a new breed of digital heroes are emerging who mentor, coach and help transform those in need to make the transition to the new eco economy. Home has again become the point of solace for humans and with the right digital mental health support the family unit is what keeps communities and villages together - both in the analogue and virtual realities. The 'local' is becoming so rewarding and immersive that the idea of travelling somewhere else seems a waste of our (newly recognised) limited time on earth. As we instead travel through meditation our inner journeys & spiritual connection with ourselves and our loved ones become the 'travel' we all seek. 

A few days later, on midsummer's eve 2021,  a new season is heralded by my client, Facebook when its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg announces via a hybrid, Digilogue event that Facebook and the physical planet is now fully open for business. At the same time, during a slightly delayed birthday celebration, Lucien blows out the candles on his carbon-neutral birthday cake and ask for a community donation to kidpreneurs in need whose families are are able to use the seed funding to start sustainable businesses that help save our planet in the emerging 5th Industrial Economy... 

We ran a webinar - 2nd Renaissance - on the above and other forecasts / backcasts focussing on the top 10 consumer trends which will shape the #nextnormal... you can view this decoding of tomorrow on-demand at your own leisure

*Remember: the above and the below are forecasts and thought experiments - they should not be taken as financial or investment advice!

Kopi av 2nd Renaissance (4)

The below is Part 1 of the 2-part Trend series:2nd Renaissance Webinar Trends.001-1
There used to be a time when we ordered San Pellegrino from Italy or imported Champagne from Champagne in France, but such grandiose provenance appetites seem misplaced at the other end of COVID19 (unless we live in those locales). During the lockdowns we have discovered our local butcher, bakery, and bookshop - even local urban farmers from whom we source our own local food. We have grown wary of global supply chains, and 'wet markets' have forever tainted our appetite for imported food. When it comes to meat consumption, we err on the side of biodynamic and organic (or lab grown) but digital traceability needs to show that our beef's lifecycle was limited to our local region. While Purezza sounds Italian, it is a highly localised Australian water system and has a smaller carbon foot print than importing sparkling water from Italy. We increasingly spend our dollar where we live, and have realised that courtesy of social media, Netflix' food shows, and a rise in consumer discernment around food, our local shops have become the unsung heroes of a food revolution that gives us exactly what we need - on our front steps.    

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Canva is helping non-designers design. YouTube is hosting prepper and carpentry courses. We buy books on baking and plant edible gardens. We realise that we cannot afford to outsource our weaknesses (semi-hobbies) to others, and that we now finally have the time to mend, sow, slow cook, and ferment. At the same time, we have a newfound sense that we need to make hay while the sun is shining, build a roof before the rain, and hedge against future risk, which means we are squirrelling away and keeping a secret pantry, as inspired by Doomsday Preppers. This means that idea exchanges, education platforms, intuitive interfaces, and practical mentoring are in for a boon as we want to continue our venture into self-reliance and anti-fragility from Black Swan events like COVID19. 

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We all need therapy. Or so my therapist says at least. Mindfulness has been 'a thing' on the rise for some time, but realising during the pandemic that the only thing we can control is our thoughts, feelings and the meaning we attach to events - in consciousness - and the news coverage of the mental health costs of COVID19 have raised our awareness / awakeness of the importance of the Inner Sphere. Whether it is therapy, yoga, meditation or mindful exercise, these journeys can now be facilitated by an app and community built around your practice. These mental health measures are not ephemeral. They are life long journeys and disciplines which take time, money and dedication, and we are likely to see corporate and government wellness programs endure as people struggle with unemployment, relationship challenges, and loss of livelihoods / lives. The inner sphere has never been more important. 

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A man's home is his castle. Or so an old Australian cinematic (sexist?) quote goes. During lockdown we really got to know the insides of our own 4 walls. We have been repairing, cleaning, tidying, re-arranging, decorating and discarding things we had previously procrastinated on. We have shifted our spend in the short term from restaurants to baking cakes, fermenting Kombucha, roasting Keto muesli, and picking up dogs from the local shelter. In fact during lockdown, shelters around the world cleared out as families sought to adopt fur-children. With our navel gazing at home, we had time to test our and our dogs DNA because that felt important, while re-learning to read books and share stories in front of the fireplace (or digital equivalent). With remote work likely here to stay, we will see an over investment in the re-design of home offices (and panic rooms?) and more sturdy moats created by those erring on the prepper side of caution.

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Greta's thunder was partly stolen by COVID19. As one meme goes, climate change wishes it had the PR team of Corona. But the signal is not lost forever, and during the COVID19 crisis we started learning how to listen to scientists, and recognise patterns and charts (#flattenthecurve). We know there are even bigger and deadlier risks on the horizon if we don't dramatically shift our values and consumption spend. Essential became differentiated from non-essential spend in households around the world, and when we go back to spending, we will think twice about buying something from a sweatshop or a factory which has dubious environmental or inhumane practices. The sustainable development goals are of additional importance as we pivot the post-COVID economy away from the old dinosaur-burning economy of the pre-COVID era. Renewable energy, carbon neutrality (or better), and supply chain transparency are all key trends that will shape tomorrowland. If your business is not sustainable, it will not sustain you tomorrow. 

Hope you enjoyed the decoding of those 5 trends - there are 5 more which I have unpacked for you in Part 2

Over the years I have been working as a trend analyst and futurist for brands like Facebook, Jaguar Land Rover, Apple, McKinsey, Microsoft, Kerastase, MINI, Lego and Mercedes. If you are interested in a custom trend report and virtual debrief for your organisation please let us know below. 


I hope you enjoyed decoding the first 1 to 5 trends, if you want decode more and look at the next 5 trends, check out part 2 of "Beyound the Virus: 10 Consumer Trends Shaping the Post-COVID World (Pt 2)". 

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