VML Intelligence’s annual The Future 100 report charting key trends and change to watch in the year ahead turns 10. That’s 1,000 predictions shared with everyone over the years. To celebrate, we're sharing all of our reports again. And 100 days after the launch of the 2024 edition, the team has compiled a mini retrospective of 10 trends, (one from each report) that have stood the test of time. Which one is your favorite?

2015: Broadcast Gaming - 2016: Global ageless society - 2017: New Mental Health - 2018: Remote-on-demand - 2019: Inclusive design - 2020: Data creatives - 2021: Escapist retail - 2022: The demise of normal beauty - 2023: Zero-proof lifestyles - 2024: Well ambition

2015: Broadcast gaming (#14)

Promo image for Twitch Con 2024
Twitch Con 2024

Gaming continues to be a collective experience.

Twitch was the first platform to successfully allow gamers to broadcast their journey to millions of viewers. Originally bought by Amazon in 2015 for $970 million, it is now worth $45 billion, according to analysts Needham & Company.

How it’s evolved

In the 2016 edition of The Future 100, Gamethletes (#86) saw the rise of professional gamers battling it out in stadiums with thousands of fans watching in person and millions spectating virtually. In 2017’s report, Social Virtual Reality (#18) broadens tech that was once considered an isolated experience into one that is social. Fast-forward to 2021, New Gaming Frontiers (#2) sees gaming mechanisms being used for virtual events that bring people together, and in 2022’s Metasocieties (#10) communities form new social networks in virtual worlds.

Why it matters

The metaverse may be a tarnished word, but the premise of social virtual destinations that are interactive and 3-dimensional are still on the rise, going beyond gaming, and impacting retail, healthcare, finance and more.

2016: Global ageless society (#37)

Boomers have been busting the stereotypes of life past fifty for more than a decade. In 2016, they were fending off old age, and set to live healthier, more active and engaged lives. Strong in numbers, with significant spending power, they offered a potent opportunity to brands.

How it’s evolved

In 2017, Hipster boomers (#94) charted this generation’s refusal to meekly age into ‘beige,’ instead creating their own take on cultural relevance. The beauty category began acknowledging their need to look and feel good in 2020, launching a slew of dedicated products (Menotech #20, Menopause beauty #55, 2020). By 2023, boomers were plotting a third act in life (Rewirement, #93, 2023); and some were even choosing to go back to work (Unretirement, #97, 2023) whether for financial or personal reasons. In 2024, as the prospect of the hundred-year life becomes more and more attainable (Centenarian futures, #92, 2024), it already seems quaint to consider 50 as ‘past it.’

Why it matters

Brands who bypass older generations continue to leave money on the table. In 2024, older people (50 and above) reportedly account for 42% of total spending worldwide. They are sophisticated and active consumers across a host of categories – like cars, fitness, fashion - in which they continue to be sidelined.

2017: New mental health (#78)

Stigmas surrounding mental health are breaking down, buoyed by a younger generation that is not ashamed to openly address the subject and seek professional treatment.

How it’s evolved

In 2015, Digital habits and stress (#26) were apparent, and beauty brands seized the opportunity with products that soothed tech-stressed skin. In 2019, Social media wellbeing (#12) became a core focus as reports revealed that anxiety and depression can be directly related to social media consumption. This spurred platforms to introduce wellbeing options such as reminding people to take a break, which by 2023 evolved into Feel-good feeds (#16) where new platforms such as Niche fostered a positive social environment. Tech aside, in 2022 Mental health pharmacies (#85) provided easier access for patients to seek professional advice at their local pharmacy. In addition, Next-gen mental wellbeing (#88) saw an uptick in mental health referrals for the youngest generation as the pandemic put a strain on their stress levels.

Why it matters

Today, people rank mental health above overall condition and physical strength when it comes to their health according to VML Intelligence’s latest global survey. At the same time, 45% of global gen Zers believe good mental health is a luxury in today’s world. There is still a lot of work to be done in this space, however, the younger generations are raising this to the top of the health agenda.

2018: Remote-on-demand (#78)

Little buildings on the edge of an fjord with icebergs in the distance
Koks restaurant, Ilimanacq, Greenland

The hottest destinations are constantly in flux, but one thing stays the same: luxury travelers will always seek out exclusive, one-off experiences.

Inspired by pop-up retail, the ephemeral resorts and accommodation set in remote, untouched or little-visited locations devised by the luxury travel operator Black Tomato (as featured in our Remote on demand trend) took the concept of exclusivity to the next level.

How it’s evolved

As early as 2016, VML Intelligence predicted an appetite for Extreme dining experiences (#91), with far-flung destination restaurants in dramatic natural settings; a trend that resurfaced in 2023 (Remote fine dining, #79). Since then, intrepid experience-seekers have continued to seek out the untouched, whether in Polar travel (#23, 2017) or Luxury underworlds, (#79, 2018). Luxury travel evolved beyond five-star amenities and service, to embrace experiences delivering personal growth and meaning. Anti-luxury luxury (#72, 2018) expeditions promised physical and intellectual challenges; Scientific expeditions (#23, 2020) and Academic adventures (#27, 2022) offered expert-led trips, casting the traveler in the role of explorer cum citizen scientist. Transcendent travel (#22, 2024) continues the trend of life-affirming journeys that have an impact way beyond the immediate trip. Now in an age of democratized luxury, top tier travelers are pulling away from the pack once more, demanding the ultimate in seclusion and privacy (Secluded sanctuaries, #72, 2024).

Why it matters

As discretionary incomes come under pressure, the wealthiest are still spending with uninterrupted confidence. Luxury brands are honing their focus on the very top tier of customers, crafting experiences that speak to the evolving meaning of the category.

2019: Inclusive design (#35)

From fashion to furniture, more brands are designing collections that are adaptive and inclusive. In 2019, the spotlight was on how technology needs to keep pace, with architect Hannah Rozenberg’s project Building without Bias aiming to make the virtual world inclusive.

How it’s evolved

Social media increased awareness of a broad range of diversity in 2016’s New frontiers of diversity (#4), celebrating multiple visions of beauty. In 2017, marketers broadened representation in their campaigns with (Dis)ability advertising (#39.) Technology and everyday products were being designed with inclusion in mind. In 2018, Assistive tech (#18) and 2023’s Techcessibility (#30) sees more innovation around inclusive tech for different abilities. In 2022, the beauty sector focused on Adaptive packaging (#57) and in 2023, more companies joined the club with Mass inclusive brands (#39.) Finally, the trend extended to virtual worlds with 2023’s Meta-inclusivity (#34.)

Why it matters

Being inclusive is an imperative for all brands. Sixty percent of people globally agree that brands that do not deliver on inclusion will become irrelevant, according to VML Intelligence’s 2022 Inclusion’s Next Wave report. In addition, 81% say products should always be designed with disabled people in mind and 74% would like to see broader diversity in advertising.

Artificial Realities Coral 00
Artificial Realities: Coral by Refik Anadol Studio, 2023. Commissioned by World Economic Forum

2020: Data creatives (#04)

Generative AI captured the headlines in 2023, but the first artist-AI collaborations emerged much earlier. In Data creatives (2020) VML Intelligence forecast the rise of artistic experiments, pointing to works by the likes of AI artist Refik Anadol and musician Jean-Michel Jarre that explored a creative dialog with machines.

How it’s evolved

ING and VML were pioneers in AI art (#02, 2017), harnessing deep learning algorithms and facial recognition techniques to generate The Next Rembrandt, a 3D printed artwork created by data. Meanwhile artists like choreographer Wayne McGregor were exploring ways to fuse AI with physical art forms in Creativity meets AI (#09, 2018). By 2019, Museum futures (#01) traced the impact of advanced digital technologies from AI to XR on the experience of art, promising new levels of immersion and interactivity. The emergence of generative AI democratized human-AI collaboration, pushing tools like Midjourney, Dalle-E and Stable Diffusion into the mainstream. (Imagination stores, #62, 2024)

Why it matters

Generative AI tools are not only streamlining creative processes, they also offer a creative sparring partner and will unlock hitherto unexplored dimensions of human imagination to co-create new realities across every creative discipline.

2021: Escapist retail (#61)

Ai generated image showing a Nike store on Mars by Benjamin Benichou
AI-generated Nike concept store on Mars, Benjamin Benichou

Digital designers get creative, transporting shoppers into fictional worlds whilst they browse through virtual wardrobes. According to digital designer Charlotte Taylor, “the desire for escapism is at an all-time high.”

How it’s evolved

The physical and digital retail landscape enriches the customer experience thanks to advances in tech and imaginative designers. In 2016, Virtual reality retail (#69) introduced VR headsets as part of instore experiences with the likes of The North Face and Tommy Hilfiger implementing this. 2018’s AR reaches mass (#11) sees sneaker brand Onitsuka Tiger unveil the world’s “first augmented reality sneaker” and in a 2017 interview Tim Cook said, “I don’t think there is any sector or industry that will be untouched by AR.” In 2020, immersive retail created New shopping worlds (#65) using games to draw shoppers in. By 2022, Virtual flagships (#64) take over ecommerce storefronts. This year, Imagination stores (#62) merges artificial intelligence to uplevel creative landscapes and the shopping experience.

Why it matters

Advances in VR, AR and virtual worlds have allowed designers and brands to stretch their imaginations and provide next-level shopping experiences. In VML Intelligence’s latest survey, 63% of millennials say they are interested in VR commerce. AI now offers another dimension of creativity, further transporting people into new and captivating commerce destinations and brand expressions.

2022: The demise of normal beauty (#53)

In 2022 VML Intelligence predicted a radical redefinition of beauty as brands began to reject labels like ‘normal’ and instead make space on the shelf for more expansive and inclusive interpretations, in line with evolving consumer values.

How it’s evolved

2016’s Full spectrum beauty (#56) and Halal beauty (#60) along with The new nude (#53, 2017) saw beauty brands cater to increasingly diverse populations by expanding product lines and color ranges. Gender neutral beauty (#51) emerged in 2017, offering products that acknowledged beauty was no longer a purely feminine concept, while Intersectional beauty (#55, 2021) called on brands to acknowledge the complexities of identity. Adaptive packaging (#57) 2022) underscored the need to do more to welcome people with disabilities into the category. Avant-garde beauty artists were celebrating Grotesque beauty (#51) in 2019, a trend that flies the flag for unconventional beauty, and one which has percolated ever since. Either way, beauty is no longer skin deep, now centering more on self-expression (Affirmational beauty, #60, 2023) and nurturing emotional wellbeing (EQ beautification, #59, 2024).

Why it matters

Conventional beauty is finished. According to VML data, most people now say beauty is about “what’s inside.” In 2024, we see progressive World-building brands (#36) like Isamaya crafting entire ecosystems that transport beauty consumers, allowing them to try on new identities and explore their inner selves.

2023: Zero-proof lifestyles (#43)

Clinking glasses at the No Lo bar at Dusit Thani Dubai2
The NoLo bar at Dusit Thani Dubai

In response to a rising generation opting for teetotalism, temperance bars and bottle stores are elevating the drinking experience minus the alcohol.

How it’s evolved

Teetotal millennials (#5) led the way making it cool to not drink in The Future 100: 2015, as surveys reported they drank less than older generations. This was driven by the desire to embrace health and fitness. In 2017, rather than completely shunning alcohol, consumers favored low-alcohol options with Spiked seltzers (#41), before Trendy teetotalism (#47) made a comeback in 2018 with a premium twist. This saw the rise of wellness elixirs and the start of non-alcoholic botanical spirits. In 2020, a wave of restaurants and bars gave people the option to enjoy a night out without a single drop of alcohol on site in Sober bars (#48.) Now zero-proofing is the healthy lifestyle people are opting into.

Why it matters

Fewer young adults are drinking; according to a 2023 Gallup survey reporting 62% of American adults under age 35 say they drink, down from 72% two decades ago. Trendy non-alcoholic options and destinations are on the rise, promoting a dry lifestyle in social settings without losing the cool for a growing sober generation.

2024: Well ambition (#84)

Reshaped by shifting values and the disruption of a pandemic, ways of working have been transformed. Generation Z now brings dramatically different expectations and behaviors to the workplace, rejecting hustle culture and prioritizing their mental wellbeing over career goals.

How it’s evolved

In a competitive hiring environment, corporate wellness programs (Work wellness, #76, 2016) and innovative perks and benefits (Employ-vertising, #39, 2016) became recruitment levers. Equity benefits (#94, 2023) saw companies redesign their benefits to better reflect the needs of marginalized talent, while the Shecovery (#96, 2022) tracked efforts by businesses to optimize the workplace for the women who dropped out in droves in the pandemic. Employees tasted a better work life balance then, as WFH became the norm (At home empires, #72, 2021); the virtual office was born (Metawork, #91, 2022); and new working models like asynchronous working emerged (Non-linear work, #96, 2023). Businesses laid on the Five-star office (#95, 2023) in the back-to-office push, but a more demanding worker now insists on choice and flexibility in where and how they get work done (Generation flex, #100, 2023).

Why it matters

Worker expectations continue to evolve: 76% will not accept a job that is highly stressful and 77% will only work for companies that align with their values and beliefs. In an era where competition for talent is tough, companies must continually evolve the workplace to reflect these changing priorities.

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