Wednesday Reading - Sterling Brands' "On the Future: A Forecast of Near Future Trends

Like any librarian, I try to read a lot. Lately it’s been reports and articles that help me keep up with trends and forecasts for the future. Some of them reinforce things a lot of us are already thinking. Some of them introduce new ideas. And some of them kind of blow my mind.  Every now and then I find one that does all three and that makes for a really good read.
Sterling Brands, a brand consultancy that provides services for brand strategy, innovation and design, recently released their first annual trends report, "On the Future: A Forecast of Near Future Trends" and it’s one of those really good reads.
The report cleverly packages fifteen current trends and even proposes products (Sterling futurecasts) built around each of them. Their forecasts are based on observations of products currently on the market, drivers of socioeconomic trends, and their predictions for how consumer will respond to both. 

Sterling Brands - On the Future: A Forecast of Near Future Trends

The full report is worth a look. Here’s a quick summary of their observations about each of the fifteen trends:
  • Conspicuous Isolation – A growing value for privacy and the challenge of maintaining a public persona will compel people to seek opportunities to unplug and step away from social media’s and technology’s omnipresence.
  • Bulklash – The rise of single-person homes will increase demand and preference for smaller serving sizes and easier-to-store-products.
  • Urban Defense – The rise of megacities and urbanization will drive smarter design and increased concern for personal health and wellness.
  • Life Framing – An increasing segment of Americans will value experiences over luxury goods – and they will be particularly interested in documenting those experiences (e.g. Instagram). Tools to help people “frame” their experiences and create shareable, visual artifacts will be particularly valuable.
  • Gender Untethered – Traditional notions of women’s and men’s products are being displaced. Gender roles are becoming less defined and products and services will increasingly be gender-neutral in design.
  • The New Main Street – Niche and hyper-specialized products and services will survive and thrive in the marketplace by developing personalized and just-in-time relationships with consumers.
  • Hyper-Experiences – Entertainment, education, and media will take advantage of new platforms and technologies to create those ever-important and valuable experiences for users.
  • Share BNB – Sharing platforms, reputation management, and online services will become increasingly important as the sharing economy grows and becomes more familiar.
  • Game of Drones – Whether for delivery, entertainment, access, monitoring, or any other current or future uses, drones will become an important recreational and business tool.
  • Automation Nation – Vending machines and other automated services will provide convenient, affordable, and personalized services.
  • Agri-Culture – Increased interest in farming, food sources, and support for the local economy will drive transparency in food production and diversity in food offerings.
  • Home-ing – With Americans spending less time at home, workplaces, retail locations, and public spaces will incorporate more “home” experiences to satisfy the need for people to feel “at home.”
  • Beyond the Box – Consumers, more aware of packaging and more accustomed to quality design, will increasingly make decisions based on graphic and package design.
  • Frugeois [Froo-ZHwa] – Following and still feeling the effects of the global economic recession, many Americans will adhere to a value-conscious mindset that prioritizes frugality over excessive consumption.    
  • Augmentality – Whether for health or fashion, embedded or wearable technologies that enhance people’s lives will grow and become more popular. 
A couple of the current products and services cited by the report made me think specifically about libraries.
  • The 2013 Dutch horror film App integrated a mobile app that delivered content as the movie unfolded to enhance the film’s storytelling. Creating and remixing a diversity of digital content offers libraries new opportunities for serving users.
  • MedCentre kiosks offer pharmacy services, including filling prescriptions, and 24-hour access to video chat services with a pharmacist. Several libraries have already introduced library kiosks in popular locations – can integrating librarian services into these kiosks make them even more valuable?
  • Lexus’ Intersect showroom concept provides an engaging and luxurious space for events, activities, food, cultural exhibitions, and even libraries. The showroom provides an experience that helps sell the product even without focusing on the product.
  • Pley, a monthly subscription service that rents LEGO sets and pieces, helps demonstrate the growing range of items made shareable through the sharing economy. 
I’ll keep sharing some of the items I’m reading that help me think about the future. I’d also love to hear what you are reading – send me an e-mail or contribute your suggestions to our Manual for the Future of Librarianship project.