Marketers and consumers alike are reeling from a year of deep division and chaos. "WTF just happened?" is the first question we're asking ourselves followed by, "Where do we go from here?"
In 2017, people will turn to a number of surprising, sometimes shocking ways to relieve stress and care for themselves amid ongoing cultural and political turmoil. We're predicting a major uptick in sex, robot relationships, food hype and pleasure revenge among the wealthy. What follows are the four trends marketers need to get smart about in order to survive the next 12 months.
We've been having less sex than ever, which may explain why we're all so stressed, but we're ready to emerge from this dry spell and unleash our libidos.
Millennials are having less sex than any generation in 60 years. Anti-anxiety meds and technology have intruded into our sex lives, leaving them limp. Sixty-three percent of millennials say they'd choose the internet over sex and 51 percent of women believe eating can be as pleasurable as sex.
But as we usher in a new administration and a tense national mood, 2017 will bring more sex than ever. We've seen this develop during other tense periods in American history—"Make love, not war" was the catchphrase of the sexual revolution that defined the 1960s. A rise in sex is linked with an uptick in cultural individualism, so as we take charge of our health, our finances, our opinions and our lives, so will our desire to get it on awaken.
We saw it play out in HBO's hit show Westworld, but it's coming our way IRL. In 2017, consumers will start to treat technology like the true companion it's becoming. We're forming our deepest bonds with technology. The more we use it, the more it knows us, conforms to us, adapts to us, helps us and anticipates our wants and needs.
In the year ahead, tech will become even more anthropomorphic and will shower us with ultrahuman love, acceptance and kindness. With more voice-activated products like Amazon Echo, technology will not only replace retail, but also mask our loneliness, providing us companionship at home. Humanoid robots will replace relationships—we'll see robots that hug, kiss and dive into bed with us—and even take our kids to school in the morning.
As we've become an emotionally, sexually and financially malnourished nation, we'll look to food as a source of happiness and wellness.
Right now, we're wary of everything brands are trying to feed us. A study found 62 percent of us are avoiding artificial ingredients, hormones or antibiotics, genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, and Bisphenol A, or BPA. Organic product sales soared to $43.3 billion in the U.S. in 2015, up 11 percent from 2014. And a recent survey showed that 84 percent of American consumers would purchase an organic product over an analogous conventional product.
In 2017, we'll see a new craving for megafunctional and locally sourced foods, as well as those with an authentic story—Chipotle won't cut it. Food energetics, meaning sustenance that enlivens our ability to perform, will have a deeper role in our lives. Guided by Ayurvedic principles, consumers will become obsessed with the energy food emits when they cook, prepare and serve it. We'll also enter an era of adaptogens, ingredients that help our bodies fight or overcome the effects of stress. Ingredients like chaga, cordyceps, maca and reishi will turn up in everything from elixirs to donuts.
As the new year kicks off, people will have their wallets at the ready. Whether as a form of self care, protection and preservation or simply a way the closeted wealthy splurge, people will be spending more on themselves than ever.
Once concerned about buying things and experiences, average people will turn inward, spending money on feeding the soul—foods that nourish, spiritual practices, products and services that make us better people. As life expectancy rises to 120 and mindfulness becomes the new yoga, we will realize the value of taking good care of ourselves inside and out.
Meanwhile, the wealthy, hoping Trump will supersize their cash, are prepping for a secret bacchanal. Our pleasure-revenge trend kicks in for the megarich who want to live large as they did precrash; they will flaunt their wealth for all to see. They'll be taking their cues from Trump, who's been seen at Jean-Georges and the 21 Club in his first few weeks as president-elect.
Luxury will rise back to the top of the retail food chain.
So, as marketers prep for 2017, they should appeal to consumers' inner sexual beings, their need to feel loved and taken care of (even if by a bot), their desire to eat their way to energy, and their desire to splash out during divisive times.
Faith Popcorn (@FaithPopcorn) is a futurist and founder and CEO of Faith Popcorn's BrainReserve.