Consumer trends

The Future 100

January 27, 2021

From staycations to climate-friendly diets, “The Future 100” annual report looks ahead to the defining trends in consumer behaviour and innovation for 2021.

“The Future 100” helps readers prepare for emerging consumer behaviour with 100 original trend predictions from the Innovation Group. Split into 10 categories, each trend delivers a digestible snapshot of movements so far, while clearly explaining why brands and marketers should pay attention.

From deep fakes and micropreneurs, to brand purpose going mainstream and health becoming an element of every business, “The Future 100”, the report is packed with insights and fresh takes on the year ahead and beyond.

Cautious optimism sets the pace for 2021 as the world reflects on the challenges of 2020 and enters a hopeful year of economic rebound and societal healing as the road to recovery begins. Big change is already in motion. The United Kingdom exits the European Union, a Biden-Harris administration assumes leadership, and multiple promising Covid-19 vaccines roll out around the world – offering a glimpse of a post-pandemic era.

But amid the opportunities, new cautions arise, as issues such as data sustainability and deepfakes dominate conversations around how to create a safe and durable digital ecosystem.
“The Future 100: 2021” previews 100 bitesize trends and changes to track this year as tech’s influence on culture and economies accelerates.

The report’s 10 trend segments are: culture, technology & innovation, travel & hospitality, brands and marketing, food & drink, beauty, retail, work, health and finance.

2021 food & drink highlights include:

Adventure dining – With coronavirus restrictions continuing, high-end dining destinations are getting creative, offering unparalleled experiences in an effort to comply with social distancing measures in a unique way – like repurposing an 1885 underground swimming pool to create a unique private dining room.

Climate-friendly diets – A quarter of global carbon emissions are related to food production—and consumers are taking action. One in five millennials are reducing the amounts of meat and dairy in their diet to combat climate change.

Antimicrobial packaging – As consumers are hyper-aware of the coronavirus’s ability to survive on surfaces, expect antibacterial and antiviral packaging to become more important in purchasing decisions.

Plane dining – Airplane food—once considered a low point of air travel—has become a draw for grounded patrons looking to recreate the travel experience, with people snapping up airline meals sold in grocery stores and waiting lists for pop up airline restaurants.

Breakfast upgraded – With people spending more time at home and COVID-19 restrictions leading many to socialize earlier in the day, breakfast is enjoying a renewed appreciation. The meal is transforming from a rushed necessity to a ritual that people are increasingly investing in.

Asia goes plant-based – Food brands are creating plant-based and cultured-meat alternatives to target health-conscious Asian consumers. In recent years, with Asia’s rising per capita income, meat consumption has gone up, but so has demand for meat alternatives.

Dining redesigned – Designers are turning their attention to the table in an effort to elevate the distanced dining experience. They’re focusing on the details of dining, innovating how it looks to serve and share food for sophisticated and nuanced physically distanced dining.

Exclusive experiences/privatised meals – High-end restaurants and culinary start-ups are positioning private dining as the latest luxury when eating out, reviving the excitement of eating out that was lost throughout 2020. Privacy and personalisation are paramount.

Three hot food ingredients – The Sichuan peppercorn is setting mouths afire across the world, home gardeners are growing herbs with calming and immunity-boosting properties to make into herbal teas and koji, the fungus prized in Japan, is now a prime ingredient in plant-based meat alternatives on western grocery shelves.

Emma Chiu, global director at Wunderman Thompson Intelligence, said: “Few of us will have experienced quite as much drama on a societal and global level as we did in 2020 and the fallout from that is more new trends than we’ve seen since we started publishing The Future 100, and behaviors which had been evolving slowly thrust into the mainstream. Knowing which of these trends matter and why has never been so important for marketers at a time when the very survival of many brands depends on adapting at pace.”

Download the full report