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Book Notes: “Non-Obvious Megatrends” by Rohit Bhargava


Non-Obvious Megatrends: How to See What Others Miss and Predict the Future by Rohit Bhargava (2020) is the 10th installment in the author’s annual series on the important trends shaping the future of humanity. Bhargava’s background is in marketing; he has worked at the prominent Leo Burnett and Ogilvy ad agencies and teaches marketing at Georgetown University. This is an important fact because the Non-Obvious books, despite some general appeal, must be viewed through the author’s marketing lens: it influences the trends he curates and the audience he is writing for.

Since trends are the central idea of the book, it’s important to define the term. According to Bhargava, a trend is a “curated observation of the accelerating present.” Trends are important because they involve a shift in underlying human behavior or belief. Trends are different that fads which are not long-lasting and don’t result in an underlying behavioral shift. Trends are like compasses pointing towards future possibilities. Bhargava is very clear about what a trend is and what it isn’t. He is critical of futuristic predictions with no grounding in reality and low probability of ever happening. By contrast, Bhargava argues that his curated trends have a high-probability of coming to pass because they are strongly grounded in the present and represent meaningful changes in how people live and interact with the world.

The book is divided into three sections. The first section provides an overview of the methodology behind the book series. Here Bhargava shares his approach to identifying interesting trends and distilling the signal from the noise. The second part of the book is devoted to the top 10 “megatrends” identified by the author and his team. These megatrends build upon individual trends identified and curated over the past Non-Obvious reports (going back to 2011). Bhargava and his team analyzed the hundreds of published and unpublished trends they have been following and cluster and synthesize these trends into larger, bigger, more impactful megatrends. The final part of the book is a review of the trends in each of the previous annual reports. The author revisits each published trend and assigns a grade based on the value and longevity of the trend in retrospect (hats off to him for identifying the duds and losers alongside the winners).

A more accurate title for this book would be “A Curated List of Interesting Technological, Social and Cultural Trends for Businesses and Marketers.” Unfortunately that title fails to roll off the tongue (which is why I am not a marketer). Bhargava overdelivers in the interesting trends department, but judged holistically, “Non-Obvious Megatrends” is somewhat unsatisfying. This is a book with some very interesting ideas but it isn’t a particularly enjoyable read.

Pros: Interesting ideas. High appeal for marketers and advertisers. Perhaps best used as a reference.

Cons: Don’t look for a cohesive book with a single overarching narrative. It reads more like a report (to be fair, it originated as a report).

Verdict: 6/10

Notes & Highlights

Part I: The Art of Non-Obvious Thinking


  • “Finding the solution to a particularly tricky problem or discovering a world changing idea takes more than creativity.”
  • Isaac Asimov: “I am not a speed reader, I am a speed understander.”
  • “You can’t understand the world better simply by reading about it as much as possible. You do so by being intentional about what you pay attention to in the first place.”
  • Curation as the key to having better ideas.

Chapter 1: The 5 Mindsets of Non-Obvious Thinkers

  1. Be observant: “Pay attention to the world, and train yourself to notice the details that others miss.”
    * Ways to be more observant:
    - Explain the world to children.
    - Watch processes in action.
    - Put your devices away and observe the real world.
  2. Be curious: “Ask questions, invest in learning, and approach unfamiliar situations with a sense of wonder.”
    * Ways to be more curious:
    - Consume enriching, intelligent, “brainful” media rather than mindless media.
    - Read unfamiliar publications (e.g. “Modern Farmer, Monocle, etc.).
    - Ask questions constantly.
  3. Be fickle: “Save interesting ideas for later consumption without overanalyzing them in the moment.” (Separate the process of ideation from the act of analysis).
    * Ways to be more fickle:
    - Save ideas offline.
    - Set yourself a time limit.
    - Take shorter notes.
  4. Be thoughtful: “Take time to develop a meaningful point of view, and consider alternative viewpoints.”
    * Ways to be more thoughtful:
    - Wait a moment.
    - Write, then rewrite.
    - Embrace the pauses.
  5. Be elegant: “Describe ideas or insights in more beautiful, deliberate, simple, and understandable ways.”
    * Ways to be more elegant:
    - Keep it short.
    - Use poetic language.
    - Break it into pieces.

Chapter 2: The Haystack Method for Curating Non-Obvious Ideas

  • Futurist John Naisbitt: If you want to get better at anticipating the future, start by getting better at understanding the present.
  • “A trend is a curated observation of the accelerating present.”
  • Many trends identified by the mainstream media are, in fact, fads.
  • Fads are things that a briefly popular but do not last. Often a fad is tied to a singular product or industry.
  • Trends involve a shift in underlying human behavior or belief.
  • Example of trend vs. fad:
A few years ago, someone asked whether I considered the rise of 3D printing to be a trend. I replied that I did not, but I viewed the rise of the maker movement of people who want to create something on their own as a trend worth watching.”
  • A trend is meaningful because of the broader context and meaning behind it. Without this synthesis, the trend is not particularly interesting nor useful.
  • The Haystack Method:
    1. Gathering: Save interesting ideas: “Gathering is the disciplined act of collecting stories and ideas while taking notes of why they are interesting.”
    2. Aggregating: Curate information clusters: “Aggregating is the process of grouping ideas together to uncover bigger themes.”
    3. Elevating: Identify broader themes: “Elevating involves identifying the underlying themes that align a group of ideas to describe a single, bigger concept.”
    4. Naming: Create elegant descriptions: “Naming is the art of describing a collection of ideas in an accessible and memorable way.”
    5. Proving: Validate without bias: “Proving entails seeking out data, stories, and conversations to validate whether a collection of ideas can justifiably be described as a trend.”
  • Criteria for validating a trend:
    - Idea: Should represent a unique cultural, business, societal, behavioral shift described clearly and concisely.
    - Impact: Are people and individuals changing their behavior to adapt/evolve in response to this idea?
    - Acceleration: Meaningful trends gain momentum and show upward growth.
  • “If you are going to hone your ability to curate trends, you must embrace the notion that sometimes you will be wrong.”

Chapter 3: How to Apply Non-Obvious Thinking for Fun and Profit

  • “Intersection Thinking”: A way to connect disparate ideas from different domains and industries to generate new products, services and ideas.
  • Four ways to foster intersection thinking:
    1. Focus on similarities.
    2. Embrace serendipitous ideas.
    3. Wander into the unfamiliar.
    4. Be persuadable.
  • Example (similarities): Ad Agency used marketing tactics of popular consumer-packaged goods companies to sell baby carrots as if they were a snack food. Carrots possess many defining characteristics of snack food: they’re neon orange, crunchy, dippable and kind of addictive. They created an “Eat ‘Em Like Junk Food” ad campaign.

Part II: The Non-Obvious Megatrends

Chapter 4: Amplified Identity

  • “As individualism rises globally, people are carefully cultivating how they are perceived both online and offline, chasing stardom, and making themselves vulnerable to criticism in the process.
  • Dale Carnegie observation in the classic book “How to Win Friends & Influence People”: People are hard-wired to seek out moments of recognition where they feel singled out, understood, and appreciated.
  • “Social media may be giving us the one thing we need to shape our identities in a digital world: power over our stories.”
  • Amplified identity helps society accept and celebrate the identities of others. In particular, those individuals outside of the mainstream.
  • How to use Amplified Identity:
    - Overcome the narcissism bias: Try to see online behavior as an attempt to explore one’s identity and share it with the world. See it as human nature rather than some monstrous me-first phenomenon.
    - Consider the identity divide: Empathize with those who are not comfortable with participating online and who are not able to readily embrace the idea of online identity.
    - Help others manage their identity: Cottage industries of personal coaches, lifestyle gurus, and other self-help advisors will grow.

Chapter 5: Ungendering

  • “Traditional gender divisions and labels are getting replaced with a more fluid understanding of gender identity, forcing a reevaluation of how we see employees, customers, brands and one another.”
  • “Many people no longer consider gender to be a label determined at conception. Instead, it is increasingly accepted as a choice that we make for our current selves and maybe even evolve throughout our lifetime.”
  • “As the stereotypes of feminine and masculine ideals are supplanted, the traditional labels and roles once prescribed to our identities based on gender are no longer as meaningful.”
  • “This is forcing a fundamental reimagining of basic assumptions and messaging in marketing, merchandising (men’s and women’s sizes) and how they deliver services or even categorize their products themselves.”
  • How to use Ungendering:
    - Remove unnecessary gendering: make products and services that are more exclusive and expansive.
    - Encourage nontoxic masculinity: avoid making quick judgments when men or boys express passion or curiosity for traditionally feminine things.
    - Have more gender empathy: Consider gender as being on a spectrum rather than binary.

Chapter 6: Instant Knowledge

  • “As we become accustomed to consuming bite-sized knowledge on demand, we benefit from learning everything more quickly but risk forgetting the value of mastery and wisdom.”
  • Experts (and celebrities) are more accessible now. No longer confined to academia and other specialized institutions.
  • Knowledge sharing is ubiquitous on new digital platforms.
  • How quickly we learn is as much of a distinguishing feature of this phenomenon as how we learn.
  • Learners who don’t progress quickly enough might be more likely to quit. The remedy is to deliver progress in smaller steps that result in satisfying mini-victories.
  • Problem: “We don’t always process knowledge that we acquire quickly the same way as when we learn something more slowly or thoughtfully.”
  • How to use Instant Knowledge:
    - Speed up your content: One study suggests that increasing playback speed of content (e.g. video or audiobook) has no negative impact on comprehension. Speeding up content can also occur on the content creation side by generating more streamlined materials for rapid consumption.
    - Offer on-demand learning: Example short and specific “how to” videos are often preferred by consumers over big product manuals.
    - Become a deep expert: One counterbalance to instant knowledge is deeper, more deliberate mastery of a topic or skill.

Chapter 7: Revivalism

  • “Overwhelmed by technology and a sense that life is now too complex and shallow, people seek out simpler experiences that offer a sense of nostalgia and remind them of a more trustworthy time.”
  • Printed books have made a comeback in recent years. PWC report indicates that physical books are projected to grow modestly despite availability of digital readers and smartphones.
  • People find solace in simpler, non-tech products like: boardgames, artisan crafts, iconic retro brands.
  • Strategic or deliberate downgrading is a phenomenon where consumers prefer the downgraded or older versions of a product to a newer, more complicated and less reliable successor. Example is John Deere tractors for which new, tech-heavy models are more liable to break down. Dumb phones are also becoming more appealing for consumers.
  • “We are looking for cultural reminders of that simpler time in a bid to recreate it for ourselves in the present.”
  • How to use Revivalism:
    - Share your history: preserve and catalog your company’s history. Example: capture employee stories about working at the company, and the stories behind the building and marketing of important products and projects.
    - Offer a “classic mode”: Some phones and operating systems offer a “classic view” which provides older versions of the user interface.
    - Make your experience collectible: Consider how to engage the human desire to collect things and add meaningful things to an existing collection.

Chapter 8: Human Mode

  • “Tired of technology that isolates us from one another, people seek out and place grater value on physical, authentic and ‘unperfected’ experiences designed with empathy and delivered by humans.”
  • Automation is also fueling a resurgence in the value and need for human interactions.
  • “Consumers increasingly want to spend money on experiences rather than products.”
  • Luxury experiences are less about “exclusivity” and “extravagance” and more about the human stories behind them.
  • Consumers want authentic, human connection and compelling stories behind their brand choices.
  • How to use Human Mode:
    - Communicate in human ways: Avoid insensitive phrases and communicate clearly and accessibly (e.g. avoid jargon or obscure vocabulary).
    - Innovate for humanity, not for speed: Create better experiences don’t just optimize for efficiency.
    - Embrace “unperfection”: Flawed things can be appealing. Imperfections can appear authentic. Sharing imperfections can create empathy and trust.

Chapter 9: Attention Wealth

  • “In the information economy, our attention is our most valuable resource, leading us to be more skeptical of those who manipulate us to get it, and instead seek out and trust those who communicate in more authentic ways.”
  • “The greatest political, financial and societal influence belongs to those who can best attract our attention.”
  • Sensationalized news headlines and click-bait articles.
  • Brand spectacles and over-the-top marketing campaigns.
  • Politicians and celebrities saying outrageous things.
  • Shock and awe are popular tactics among the attention-seekers. This may result in greater skepticism and cynicism towards the media and prominent brands and individuals.
  • Retailers are taking advantage of this phenomenon by trying to create more memorable/immersive consumer experiences.
  • Digital retailers have opened physical retail stores to better engage with customers.
  • “Outrage porn”: Stories and headlines written in a way to spark or provoke anger and outrage.
  • “We are increasingly entrusting our attention to individual curators to help spotlight where we should spend our attention wealth.”
  • How to use Attention Wealth:
    - Beware of spectacle backlash. Abusing your audience’s trust and attention can be costly in the long run.
    - Make the truth more transparent.
    - Share your back story: “Let customers know why and how you do what you do.”

Chapter 10: Purposeful Profit

  • “As consumers and employees demand more sustainable and ethical practices from businesses, companies respond by adapting products, taking stands on issues, and putting purpose first.”
  • “Thanks to the growing transparency of information on the Internet, consumers can learn about and shine a bright light on the practices of individual companies or entire industries.”
  • “Smart entrepreneurs and organizations have created tools to make information about production processes and company behaviors actionable by offering consumers scorecards on brands, their products, workplace practices, and their own dealings.”
  • Consumers endorse corporate values through their buying preferences (and avoidances).
  • Millennials are 2x more likely to invest in companies with social or environmental missions and objectives.
  • “In the next decade, brands that bravely declare what they believe, choose to do good, and step up to protect people and the world around us in unexpected ways will continue to win the hearts of the public.
  • Example: CVS Health’s decision in 2014 to stop selling tobacco products. This coincided with CVS moving into the healthcare space.
  • Example: LEGO’s Sustainable Material Centre, an initiative to build toys from sustainable materials.
  • Socially responsible capitalism creates a virtuous cycle: Companies do good, consumers laud them and competitors must follow suit. In addition, vendors throughout the supply chain must also change.
  • How to use Purposeful Profit:
    - Take a credible position: Companies must backup their words with actions.
    - Focus on impact.
    - Practice conscious capitalism.

Chapter 11: Data Abundance

  • “The growing ubiquity of data and the myriad ways it can be collected raise big questions about how to make it truly useful, who owns the data, and who should stand to profit from it.”
  • One expert estimates that 90% of the existing data created by humanity was generated in the past 2 years (and will only increase exponentially going forward).
  • “When it comes to data, quality is far more important than quantity.”
  • Five types of data pollution:
    1. Data overflow: When too much data is captured creating problems about what is important and what to focus on.
    2. Data manipulation: When data sets and the ensuing analyses are twisted to support a specific agenda.
    3. Data sabotage: When individuals provide incorrect or incomplete information with malicious intent.
    4. Data contamination: When data is collected from multiple sources, improperly combined, partially deleted or otherwise corrupted in some way.
    5. Data expiration: When data is stale because it is not updated properly.
  • How to use Data Abundance:
    - Be worthy of a customer’s data. “Organizations that wish to continue to monetize the consumer data they hold will need to adjust…by offering more transparency, guaranteeing they will use consumer data in ethical ways and clearly demonstrating value back to their consumers.”
    - Ask better questions from your data. Develop a data strategy to determine what questions you want to answer before diving into the data (or determine what you want to capture).
    - Clean up your data. Prioritize quality over quantity.

Chapter 12: Protective Tech

  • “As we increasingly rely on predictive technology that keeps us and our world safe and makes life more convenient, we must contend with the privacy trade-offs required to make it work.”
  • Future predictive technologies in conjunction with ubiquitous sensors may result in persistent tracking of physical and mental health through a variety of diagnostic clues (e.g. facial expressions and other signals).
  • Critical question: How many personal decisions should we cede to machines and algorithms?
  • “A generation of young consumers will expect technology to optimize every waking moment of their lives…[but] will they also lose the ability to handle more nuanced parts of having human relationships and turn to technology for those as well?”
  • Examples of Protective Tech:
    - Health-tracking devices monitoring vital signs.
    - AI-enabled investment trackers to manage our finances.
    - Drones to protect the wilderness and police the skies.
    - Digitized governments that allow for instant tax filing.
  • The big tension from this trend will be personal privacy and individual liberties weighted against broader societal interests.
  • How to use Protective Tech:
    - Be a role model for technology: Parents will play an increasingly important role of modeling technology use for their children.
    - Recognize and appreciate the protection: We need to remain conscious of this type of technology lest we become blindly over-reliant on it.
    - Demand more technology transparency.

Chapter 13: Flux Commerce

  • “As the lines between industries erode, how we sell and buy anything changes constantly, leading to a continual disruption of business models, distribution channels, consumer expectation and even innovation itself.”
  • Interesting examples:
  • A comedy-theater company in Spain that has patrons pay at the end of show. The fee is based on how funny the performance was for each individual based on facial tracking technology that detects smiles and laughter.
  • Casper sells foam mattresses online, sight-unseen, in compressed boxes.
  • A bookstore in Tokyo’s Ginza district sells a single book title at a time.
  • How a product or experience is bought and sold is an important strategy for many businesses.
  • “Business models and distribution methods—aspects of business that were once fixed—and changing how they innovate to keep up.”
  • “The Industry Blur” is the phenomenon where companies branch into business activities in other industries (often complementary but still markedly different from their core business).
  • Examples:
    - West Elm opening branded hotels that expose customers with their products.
    - Amazon acquiring Whole Foods to expand into groceries and provide more offline access to their brand.
    - Capital One turning bank branches into cafes and co-working spaces.
  • “Usership” vs. “ownership”: Trend towards “using” amenities on a on-off or as-needed basis. For example: Uber, AirBnB.
  • Subscription models are an important way to tap into the “usership” economy.
  • “As the lines once distinctly drawn between industries erode almost completely, and as business models shift from products being sold not as products but as a service or subscription, and as distribution methods are transformed to eliminate middlemen, winners in this new economy are increasingly those who embrace the fast-changing and increasingly blurred nature of commerce—those who welcome the “flux” and move with it.”
  • How to use Flux Commerce:
    - Find the blur: Consider combining two unlikely business models together as an interesting brainstorming exercise.
    - Be strategic, not reactive.
    - Seek out and support the innovators.

Part III: Previous Trend Reports

Overview: how to Read these Past Trend Reports

[This section includes a “report card” for each of the previous annual trend reports published by Non-Obvious Company. I am including only the trends that received “A”s here. These are the best trends curated by the author over his tenure of publishing this series.]

2011 Report: Top Trends

  • Likenomics: Creating a competitive advantage through mission-driven and more “human” brands, products and services.
  • Rise of Curation: As manifest in content marketing and sharing of expertise to build trust and customer loyalty.
  • Brutal Transparency: Extreme honesty leads to better outcomes.
  • Culting of Retail: Cultivating super-passionate users who will then evangelize the brand via their social networks and other means.

2012 Report: Top Trends

  • Corporate Humanism: Foster human brands through consumer-friendly policies, better communication with customers and using rank-and-file employees as public representatives.
  • Social Loneliness: Paradox of digital world creates more connectivity while increasing sense of loneliness and isolation. There is a real need for deeper human connection.
  • Measuring Life: Ubiquity of tracking tools that monitor and measure all areas of people’s life. Especially evident among phones and smart wearables.
  • Real-Time Logistics: Businesses use real-time social media data and insights to help with supply chain and logistics.
  • Retail Theater: Creation of unique shopping experiences. Necessary countermeasure for physical stores in the face of digital competitors.

2013 Report: Top Trends

  • Backstorytelling: Taking customers behind the scenes of your brand and history to generate customer loyalty. This is another strategy for fostering end-user trust.
  • Healthy Content: Healthcare organizations offering credible content in an ocean of questionable content from other sources.
  • Precious Print: A “digital-everything culture” has made physical prints more valued, precious and rare.
  • Heroic Design: “Design takes a leading role in the invention and adoption of new products, ideas, and campaigns to help change the world.”
  • Pioneered by Women: Women take an increasingly prominent leadership role in business, pop culture and innovation.
  • Shoptimization: Mobile shopping experiences are optimized for shop-anywhere experiences.

2014 Report: Top Trends

  • Obsessive Productivity: Becoming more productive as the “ultimate obsession” as manifest by the proliferation of online advice, self-help gurus, productivity apps and life hacks.
  • Lovable Imperfection: “Consumers search for true authenticity and reward minor imperfections in products, personalities, and brands by showing greater loyalty and trust.”
  • Branded Utility: Content marketing continues as a distinguishing corporate strategy. In particular, brands are becoming more effective at uncovering ways to deliver real customer value through their content rather than merely for marketing purposes.
  • Curated Sensationalism: The lines between news and entertainment are blurred through titilating headlines and stories meant to provoke, shock and amuse.
  • Instant Entrepreneurs: “As the barriers to starting a new business begin to fall, incentives and tools mean anyone with an idea can launch a startup knowing that the costs and risks of failure are not as high as before.”
  • Collaborative Economy: The rise of the “sharing economy” in which new business models allow customers to buy, sell and consume products and services in a new, disruptive fashion (examples: Uber, AirBnB).

2015 Report: Top Trends

  • Everyday Stardom: “The growth of personalization leads more consumers to expect everyday interactions to be transformed into celebrity experiences with them as the stars of the show.”
  • Mainstream Mindfulness: Increased attention on using practices like meditation and yoga as important tools for better personal health and productivity.
  • Mood Matching: Using tracking technology to better target advertising and tailor online experiences to the consumer’s moods/feelings.
  • Unperfection: Brands and creators highlight quirkiness, personal shortcomings and other human characteristics to emphasize humanity, relatability and empathy.
  • Predictive Protection: “A growing concern for privacy coupled with elevated expectations of technology’s role in our lives leads to more intuitive products, services, and features to help us live better, safer, and more efficient lives.
  • Engineered Addiction: Creation of addictive experiences (via behavior science and habit formation) that capture consumer attention, time, money and loyalty.
  • Disruptive Distribution: “Creators and makers use new models for distribution to disrupt the usual channels, cut out middlemen, and build more direct connections with fans and buyers.”

2016 Report: Top Trends

  • E-mpulse Buying: Digital retailers experiment with techniques to entice consumers to make split-second, emotional buying decisions.
  • Strategic Downgrading: Some consumers reject “improved” or upgraded versions of products and consciously downgrade to simpler, cheaper and more functional alternatives.
  • Virtual Empathy: Creators can engage in richer, deeper storytelling through virtual reality and immersive technology. This results in more powerful human connection and empathy.
  • Data Overflow: Increasing personal and corporate data creates new challenges (and opportunities) to manage and analyze this data.
  • Automated Adulthood: “As more people go through a prolonged period of emerging adulthood, a growing range of technology and services helps to automate all aspects of their journey to adulthood.”

2017 Report: Top Trends

  • Fierce Femininity: “The fierce, independent woman has emerged in recent years, redefining the concept of femininity and reimagining gender roles.”
  • Side Quirks: The “passion economy” allows people to generate value from their hobbies, personal quirks and unusual interests. Growth in global individual will continue to fuel this trend.
  • Passive Loyalty: “A new understanding of loyalty is challenging brands to get smarter about how they can generate brand enthusiasts.”
  • Preserved Past: Technology provides new ways to preserve history resulting in new ways to experience and remember the past.
  • Deep Diving: To combat shrinking attention and superficial content, some creators and brands differentiate by going deep into content with longform, comprehensive or serial offerings that go far beyond a surface treatment of an interesting topic.
  • Invisible Technology: Tools become better at predicting our needs and blend seamlessly into our everyday lives.
  • Robot Renaissance: Useful robots move into the home (some exhibit interesting personalities and more human-like interfaces).
  • Moonshot Entrepreneurship: “A new generation of entrepreneurs is thinking beyond profit and placing social impact, not financial performance, at the center of their organizations’ missions.”

2018 Report: Top Trends

  • Truthing: People seek answers in the face of eroded public trust of the media, government, corporations and other formerly trusted institutions.
  • Ungendered: Shifting views of traditional gender roles and gender identity create an opportunity for businesses to reposition their products and services.
  • Enlightened Consumption: Making consumer choices that reflect the individual’s values.
  • Brand Stand: The corporate equivalent of Enlightened Consumption: Companies make choices that reflect and express their corporate values.
  • Manipulated Outrage: “Media, data analytics, and advertising are combining forces to create a perpetual stream of noise that is intended to incite rage and elicit angry reactions on social media and in real life.”
  • Light-Speed Learning: A proliferation of apps and tools that promote bite-size, rapid learning are changing the acquisition of knowledge.
  • Human Mode: To counterbalance an increased reliance on digital interactions and automation, consumers are looking increasingly for services that provide much-needed human-to-human interactions.
  • Data Pollution: Massive data generation is creating problems with analyzing the data as well as problems of data manipulation, sabotage, contamination and more. The signal to noise ratio is strongly in favor of the noise.
  • Approachable Luxury: Luxury as “down-to-earth authentic human experiences that create unforgettable moments worth sharing.”
  • Touchworthy: Consumers embrace physical products that are more “real” (as a response to overwhelming digital offerings).

2019 Report: Top Trends

  • Strategic Spectacle: Companies and individuals pushed to capture attention through spectacle.
  • Muddled Masculinity: Angst and confusion about what it means to be a man.
  • Retrotrust: “Unsure of whom to trust, consumers look back to organizations and experiences with brands that have a legacy as well as those with which they have a personal history.”
  • Fad Fatigue: Too much innovation has resulted in consumer exhaustion, weariness and cynicism over “the next big thing.”
  • Extreme Uncluttering: Individuals seek simpler lives by eliminating unnecessary clutter. This includes digital decluttering as well as physical/offline decluttering.
  • Enterprise Empathy: “Empathy becomes a driver of innovations and revenue as well as a point of differentiation…”
  • Innovation Envy: “Fear leads entrepreneurs, businesses, and institutions to envy competitors and approach innovation with admiration or desperations.”
  • Good Speed: Companies and individuals urgently seek immediate impacts in light of the big problems facing humanity.
  • Overwealthy: Income inequality is causing feelings of guilt among the affluent (possibly leading to greater charitable and humanitarian efforts).


  • “Preparing for the future starts with filtering out the noise and getting better at understanding the present…”

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