FutureTense

noun, [ˈfjuʧərˌtɛns]

1: Consumers, anxiety-ridden by simultaneous social, economic, political and ethical chaos, find themselves beyond their ability to cope with today or imagine tomorrow.

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.

History

Change is never easy, and FutureTense captures the deep consumer unrest related to what we call FOF (Fear of the Future). In the early 90s, anxiety began growing, and Faith Popcorn detected that consumers were increasingly unsure of how to navigate the choppy waters ahead. The foundations of their world – assuming they’d own their own home, that America was composed primarily of white heterosexuals, that we were moving towards world peace, that the planet was healthy and that our longevity would keep increasing – were rocked. The explosive growth of the Internet and mobile devices were a huge boon, but unsettling for some – and brought a sense of Data Danger, a new wave of worries about hacking, malware, and a host of other ills. The economic downturn that hit in 2007-8 only served to exacerbate consumer fears and anxiety.

Practical Application

Mining and appeasing this growing tide of tension was one way in which brands could make a difference and show their Corporate Soul. Faith and her strategic team have advised major food and beverage, alcohol, and pharma companies on how to apply this Trend for growth. For example, the rise of Cannabis Culture – and its ability to unlock relaxation and refreshment will be critical as the regulatory environment softens and societal anxiety ramp up. Also, the consultancy has worked with a leading travel business to find new ways to cultivate a deeply personalized and memorable wellness experience while protecting clients’ privacy and ensuring the safety of their biodata.

Present

FutureTense is escalating on an array of fronts. Facebook’s $5 billion fine by the FTC for breaching privacy guidelines is only the beginning. Consumers are realizing just how porous their privacy has become. They will demand greater control over their personal information and shun companies and brands that sell their data. As medical tech evolves, concerns about devices – from insulin pumps to pacemakers – being hacked will grow. As the Oxford University forecast that 40% of US workers will lose their jobs by 2035 begins to become reality, more jobs will be lost and workers will clamor to retrain. Seeking solace from all this change, more countries will swing nationalistic as everywhere from Hungary to Brazil has done, rocking the planet’s balance of power.

Future

The FutureTense Trend will continue to escalate. The debate about Russia hacking U.S. elections will continue; ransomware, the ups and downs of cryptocurrency, and major hacking of online information (nowhere is safe; your most private information is being leaked on the Internet and the Dark Web) will plague the consumer culture. The continuing divisiveness and nationalist movements on all continents will underscore political unrest. The gap between the Haves and Have-Nots will only widen. The consumer, more than ever before, will need paths to understanding, solace and, most urgently, hope for better times ahead.

Trend Pairings

FutureTense and Icon Toppling present different facets of how consumers manage the deep social change that has been unleashed, and they often manifest simultaneously, with Icon Toppling capturing a more hopeful lens onto tomorrow.

FutureTense also works with its opposing Trends – Anchoring and Down-Aging – which have consumers craving the comfort of the past when rattled by uncertainties ahead.

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