noun, [ˈfæntəsi] [ædˈvɛnʧər]
1: Modern age whets our desire for roads untaken.
2: One of 17 known cultural and societal undercurrents, first identified by Faith Popcorn, whose shifting dimensions reflect the human experience as it evolves to define future consumer behavior.
In the mid-1980s, Faith and her global network of TrendGurus identified a rejection of the familiar, the safe, the predictable. Suddenly, there were signals that the same-old, same-old was just old. Instead of traveling to the usual renowned cities and beaches, Adventure Travel – trekking, surfing and rafting to remote locations, with the help of skilled guides – was born. Instead of the familiar consumer touchstones, passion-fruit iced teas, Goth-dark Chanel Vamp nail polishes, and Ethiopian food swept in as early signals that consumers craved a subtle shock of the new. They were ready to be swept away from their safety zone. Consumers were also jetting to new locations – trekking to remote mountain tops and jungles equaled badge status – and embarking on the latest cruise ships that offered rock-climbing and other thrills. The “surprise and delight me” mandate was born.
As this Trend took off, Faith Popcorn’s BrainReserve led clients to mine the faraway and fantastic by developing spirits, soft drinks, juices, snacks, personal care and hospitality concepts. Working closely with the best R&D departments in the world, the Popcorn team introduced America to ancient grains, micro-greens and more.
A decade into the Trend, all things fantastic sprang up everywhere. Theme parks were booming, with annual revenues of $6 billion. An Australian hotel offered upscale tree-houses for $900 a night (and you wouldn’t be roughing it, with TV, AC, and minibar access assured). Vacationers looking for vicarious thrills signed up for storm-chaser packages, where following the path of tornadoes was part of the excitement. Exotic Fantasy wove through the food realm, from Biblical cuisine to fusion menus of all kinds (Italian-inspired sushi rolls with prosciutto, anyone?), to vampire wines from Transylvania that brought a shiver to your dinner-table.
Faith Popcorn’s BrainReserve applied this Trend recently to reimagine travel for a cruise line, weaving magic – in the form of high-tech anticipatory intel and amazing bespoke experiences – into their next-gen trips. Imagine a stateroom that will be curated to reflect your mood and wellness in real time as well as on-board VR bazaars sharing local culture and experiences. It will all be real – and soon.
This Trend continues to accelerate dramatically. Globalization and the Internet have shrunk the world, allowing people to order, subscription snack boxes from all over the planet and embrace the experience of cosplaying at events like Comic Con and gender exploration at DragCon. Technology has enabled what were once impossible-to-achieve experiences to be within reach – even commercial space travel is at last being developed by multiple players, including SpaceX, Xcor, Virgin Galactic, and quite probably NASA.
Fantasy Adventure’s next frontier is Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR), which allow for truly fantastic realms to be created. Imagine exploring alternate realms in immersive games or virtually time-traveling to meet your ancestors – or fast-forward to meet your great-great-great grandchildren. A new universe of products awaits as well as 3D-printed and lab-made faux foods and other products emerge from the pipeline, offering imaginative new twists on the formerly familiar, like food designer Chloé Rutzerveld’s creations that are akin to tiny, completely edible greenhouses that sprout mushrooms and shoots.
Small Indulgences – the Trend that expresses the consumer needs for mini, just-for-me rewards – often pairs with Fantasy Adventure. Examples of this: Millennials’ beloved Fairy Toast and Unicorn Lattes and quickie guided meditation sessions at drop-in studios.
Fantasy Adventure can also cross with Pleasure Revenge – which shares the joy of “being bad” – as people look for transformative experiences, like VR sex and hallucinogenic journeys to the far reaches of consciousness.
Tomorrow’s trends, Today