Biodosing, Stunt Math and Disaster Design Will Be Huge in 2018, According to This Report

Sparks & Honey gets ahead of next year's trends

Sparks & Honey predicts next year's biggest trends. Sparks & Honey

Have you ever heard of asynchronous meals, adaptive communities, small sats or truth labs?

If you answered no, you’re not alone. But marketers might need to learn these and other unfamiliar terms over the next twelve months if Sparks & Honey’s fifth annual trends report proves correct.

According to the Omnicom agency, these topics may be big in 2018, along with more familiar themes like diversity, inclusion, transparency, accountability, digital transformation and outer space. Right now, these are just predictions—but executives should probably take notes anyway.

As Sparks & Honey chief strategy officer Clyde McKendrick put it, “Brands tend to think in a singular sense. They look at themselves and their audience as a single entity.”

But they really need to look at the larger picture if they want to stay relevant.

Beyond its daily “culture briefings”—one of which Adweek recently attended—Sparks & Honey also produces these annual reports. Last year’s version, for example, named “inclusive economy” and “A.I. Morality” as two topics that would be discussed in 2017.

Here are some images from a sneak peek of the 2018 report, which will be released on Dec. 13.

Those words may sound like future-speak, but the concepts behind them are not necessarily new.

  • Biodosing: health and wellness options that look “inward,” i.e. probiotics made up of live bacteria
  • Asynchronous meals: eating habits that have no guidelines—eat what you want when you want
  • 67 percent movement: size inclusivity in the fashion industry especially
  • Adaptive communities: widening the broad spectrum to include disabled and differently-abled people
  • Small sats: launching affordable small satellites, used for data gathering, into space
  • Retail reinvention: the transformation of brick and mortar
  • Truth labs: tech giants like Google and Facebook working to end misinformation
  • Disaster design: brands taking a stance on major issues like climate control
  • Stunt math: questionable or incorrect math used to validate opinions as fact
  • Third act: an aging population of Baby Boomers and Gen Xers seeking new career opportunities including internships

McKendrick said these findings provide “both problems and opportunities” for agencies and brands.

Take asynchronous meals. McKendrick suggested consumer packaged goods companies may want to rethink their messaging if it’s true that, for example, consumers no longer see cereal as a breakfast-only food.

McKendrick also hedged a bit by noting that “wherever there is a trend, there’s a counter trend.”

Along with the 10 aforementioned topics, Sparks & Honey director of cultural systems Merlin Ward said certain ongoing trends will gain greater influence in the ad industry next year. He specifically mentioned clients’ move toward digital-first campaigns, programmatic buying and experiential work.

Ward said that doesn’t mean there will “necessarily be new agencies or units” popping up—but he does think there will likely be an increase in new positions created to meet clients’ evolving needs.

In one such example, Publicis New York hired John Biondi to lead its experience offering in the newly-created role of chief experience officer this summer.

All in all, McKendrick said the goal of Sparks & Honey’s annual report is not to scare advertisers but to “provide early warning signs” so they can adapt, “create new processes” and “innovate faster.”

@kitten_mouse Lindsay Rittenhouse is a staff writer at Adweek, where she specializes in covering the world of agencies and their clients.