Using the T.R.E.N.D.S acronym, Flux Trends provides a glimpse into the key trends for 2018 across six sectors. These are just a sample of a broader selection of trends, which Flux explores in-depth at our annual trend presentation – The State We’re In – that kick-starts each new year. Our 2018 edition is entitled, Through a Different Lens: a follow on from the 2017 edition, Dazed and Disoriented, the impact of being WOKE. 2017 proved to be a pivotal year, especially in the socio-political realm, which has forced many brands and businesses to re-look their approach. The presentation is an executive summary of the shifts, innovations, and evolutions in the six T.R.E.N.D.S pillars.
We’re still getting used to the idea of “co-bots” (robots that work alongside humans taking on menial or route tasks). Last year, Dubai started deploying real robot cops to assist their police force. Saudi Arabia went one step further and granted full citizenship of the kingdom to Sophia – the first female humanoid robot, created by Hanson Robotics. In China, engineer Zheng Jiajia went beyond the contentious issue of sex-bots and built his own female robot; which he married in a traditional wedding ceremony. It seems that the era of Transhumanism has officially begun.
Magazines blur retail boundaries
Magazines are re-contextualising the relevance of their content by becoming retailers. As highlighted in the Flux Trends, New Rules of Retail report, fashion magazines are exploring hybrid solutions to tackle the decline in both retail and publishing. Marie Clare hosted a three week pop-up, the next big thing concept in NYC last year. The store focused on three popular sections in the magazine and brought them to life in the retail space. This dovetails with the rise of “Instagram Playgrounds”, where retailers are creating environments specifically designed to be captured for the Gram. The Museum of Ice Cream is currently one of the trailblazers exploring new opportunities in social media commerce.
Brands pivoting into finance
The traditional approach to banking is dwindling exponentially. Already 62% of millennials are happy to pay via a trusted brand’s app, rather than traditional banking systems.
The creation of apps which enable consumers to open bank accounts and purchase government bonds without FICA regulations are emerging. Brands are creating new avenues to interact with consumers. Many are doing so by providing alternative financial services. This year sees the opening of Discovery Bank and the creation of Uber credit cards. Starbucks has already announced its intention to pivot into a mobile payments company, while Snapchat and Apple have already filed for trade marks for peer to peer payment platforms. The death knell for banks is clanging loudly.
As researchers explore the prospect of storing data using DNA (yes, really), scientists have already created a security threat to this futuristic concept. Bio hackers from the University of Washington have found a way of encoding ‘malicious software’ onto DNA stands. The malware is not intended to harm its human host but instead becomes a means of corrupting gene sequencing software and take control of the underlying computer. A real concern as we embrace new forms of biometrics.
“This means when you’re looking at the security of computational biology systems, you’re not only thinking about the network connectivity and the USB drive, but also the information stored in the DNA they’re sequencing. It’s about considering a different class of threat” Tadayoshi Kohno – computer science professor.
The first Minster of A.I.
In pursuit of harnessing future skills and investing in the development of science and technology the United Arab Emirates has become the first nation to appoint a Minster of Artificial Intelligence. Omar Bin Sultan, 27, will focus on rebranding the country as a Middle Eastern tech hub. Their plans are ambitious: not only do they see Dubai achieving a 25% robot police force by 2030; they have also joined the race to place autonomous vehicles on their roads and launch flying taxis in their skies, that’s besides the parallel investments in various Hyperloop projects and a plan to reach Mars.
Woke to Wide Awake
Issues of identity – specifically those of race, gender and culture – played a critical role in shaping pivotal social movements in 2017. Joined by the #metoo viral campaign at the end of the year, these movements will ensure that brands, businesses, and politicians tread carefully as they navigate a changed socio-cultural landscape of what is, and is not, acceptable. In 2018, additional (and more complex) undercurrents of gender fluidity and gender neutrality will come to the fore, as seen with the banning of gender stereotype advertising in the UK. As brands shift their focus to Generation Z, they will need to be hyper aware of Gen Z’s broad yet defiant stance on identity.
For more trend insights and “Trends as Business Strategy” have a look at some of our observations.
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