Forecaster reveals emerging (and bizarre) consumer trends for 2021
The world threw a lot at us in 2020, and it is looking increasingly likely that 2021 may be just as much of a head-scratcher, according to a new report on emerging consumer trends from forecaster WGSN.
Soliciting insight from its multinational team of in-house data geeks and trend analysts, the Ascential-owned company has compiled 10 of the most noteworthy innovations and behaviors that are poised to define the year ahead—though some of the predictions are more, well, zany than others.
Robot pets will likely be one thing on consumers’ radars in 2021, according to WGSN, though that may be a bit of an oversimplification.
"This year, over the course of the pandemic, adoption of technology has accelerated by the equivalent of several years' normal progression, and people have become much more comfortable with the idea of robots as part of everyday life,” says Sarah Housley, senior editor of lifestyle and interiors at WGSN.
Following a pandemic-induced spike in the purchase of non-human housemates—ranging from dogs to potted plants—people may be increasingly looking for companionship without the commitment that standard pets necessitate. In turn, this may lead tech developers to focus on designing personable, empathetic machines in conjunction with animators and psychologists.
In the near future, robots may also provide love, too, if WGSN’s tracking of the rise of “digisexuality”—when individuals use VR, AI and robotics to fulfill physical and emotional needs—is to be believed.
A trend first identified in 2019, this phenomenon à la “Her” has only been accelerated by the need for social distancing and lack of human interaction many have experienced this year, though it remains to be seen just how many “digisexuals” will walk among us in 2021.
The company projects a number of food-related innovations and trends will come humanity’s way next year, including the growth and acceptance of plant-based egg substitutes and the translation of “molecular gastronomy” to beverages, creating products like hangover-free synthetic alcohols.
WGSN is also forecasting a shroom boom in 2021 that goes beyond Oregon’s recent legalization of psilocybin mushrooms. The use of sustainable, mushroom-based packaging and leathers is set to revolutionize the quest for eco-friendly materials next year, the company says, with brands including Adidas, Lululemon and Kering each investing seven-figure sums into the novel biomaterial Mylo.
Other trends it believes the world will get acquainted with in 2021: demand for stronger cannabis-derived wellness products such as CBN, the development of recyclable shoes, and a rise in the number of neck- and jaw-related cosmetic surgeries—the last due to people, accustomed looking down at screens constantly, trying to correct or thwart double-chins or sagging skin.
To cap its predictions, the company also nominated its own “color of the year” for 2021: A.I. Aqua, a “versatile,” tealish-turquoise shade of blue identified in collaboration with sister brand Coloro.
“A recent survey of the tones used on the world’s biggest websites found blue easily outstripped others, and shades of blue, which are used prominently in tech, are set to become more immersive and important,” WGSN’s report says.
“In a digital age when we’re able to curate our identities and our online personas are as important as our offline ones (if not more so), we expect this hue to resonate broadly with consumers and have strong appeal across all design categories and demographics.”