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The Future 100 Report: Key Takeaways


VML's The Future 100: 2024 Report was just released — and with it, insight for the present and predictions galore for the future. These predictions range from typical marketing fare (such as how retail will evolve to current gen Z buying trends) to the unusual and fantastical (AI children and virtual families becoming common, as the report stated that virtual children "could be commonplace by 2070."). Luxury experiences, whether travel or fashion, appear often — alongside wellness and health trends (such as "analog travel" and prioritizing rest, renewal, and relaxation), illustrating an emphasis on the desire for experience (which comes as no surprise, post-COVID-19).

The theme shared by all these seemingly disparate trends is simple at its core: People want to connect — whether to themselves, others, nature, or a form of spirituality and/or mindfulness. There is a need to create new spaces and ways to experience authenticity and the journey for the self. While some of this impulse comes in the form of escapism (with virtual experiences), it suggests a need for change.

Below are some key takeaways from the report (which can be read here):

  • People believe brands should have a positive impact. According to the report, 79 percent believe that the "role of a brand has changed over the past five years" and 88 percent agree companies "have a responsibility to take care of the planet and its people." Further, 83 percent "expect brands to play their part in solving challenges like climate change or social injustice." In addition, 81 percent believe companies "should be making an effort to help improve people's mental health."
  • People choose brands that share their beliefs. The report stated that 85 percent "want their money to go to a brand that reflects their values."
  • Technology can be a community booster, as 76 percent believe that "technology helps bring people together." Immersive tech is "expected to grow from $97.9 billion in 2023 to $280.5 billion by 2028, according to MarketsandMarkets," a research firm.
  • People want to experience more. The report found that 91 percent "want to feel more emotion in their lives" and 70 percent "prefer to spend money on experiences rather than things." Further, 83 percent "seek out experiences that bring joy and happiness."
  • Electric vehicle (EV) sales are predicted to increase. The study cited, via research from S&P Global Mobility, that U.S. EV sales could increase by as much as 50 percent by 2030.
  • AI will likely create more jobs, not steal them. For instance, the report related that, according to The World Economic Forum's Future of Jobs Report 2023, AI "will create 69 million new jobs globally in the next five years, and these positions are already being filled. In October 2023, there were more than 3,750 job listings posted on Indeed for prompt engineers, who specialize in writing the prompts necessary to elicit the best responses from AI."
  • Forms of escapism are rising. People are seeking "otherworldly" experiences, as 75 percent of people in the U.S., U.K., and China say they want to be "transported to other worlds by stories and narratives, so increasingly visitors to theme parks expect a journey, not just thrills. And whether that's via virtual reality or through performance and storytelling, these expectations are driving theme park experiences to the next level."
  • Accessibility and inclusivity will grow and strengthen as more awareness builds. The report shared that 15 percent of the global population "experience[s] some form of neurodiversity,[and] organizations spanning from airlines to tour operators to entire cities are aiming to offer greater accessibility to neurodiverse people."
  • Shopping habits are changing as people are concerned about finances and climate change. The report stated that, according to McKinsey, 80 percent of people in the U.S., and 88 percent of gen Z and millennials, "are seeking value by trading down to different products." In China, the popular hashtag "downgraded spending" is used. Further, cost of living is a concern for people generally, as 64 percent of people globally chose it as "one of the five most pressing issues facing society."

Emma Chiu and Marie Stafford, co-authors and global intelligence directors at VML, summed up the findings succinctly in the report's press release, stating that "an intentional slowdown shifts the pace for people and businesses after years of rapid acceleration. Community and connection at scale are essential to 2024, with 67 percent of people agreeing that community is more important than one individual and 76 percent believe that technology helps bring people together. With most consumers looking for surprise, mystery, awe, and wonder in their lives, new experiences that engage a wide spectrum of emotions are in demand. A profound and enriching year awaits!"

The views and opinions expressed in Industry Insights are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.

Joanna Fragopoulos is a director of editorial and content development at ANA.