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The Biggest Trends & Changes Predicted for 2018

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We pulled together the top expert predictions on what to expect from restaurants, retail, media, and marketing in 2018…

It’s 2018, and everyone is looking in their crystal balls to give the top predictions for the year ahead, so we culled through their best guesses to get a good picture of the 2018 across industries. Here’s what the experts are saying you should expect, from food trends to innovations in entertainment, and more:

Millennial research, Millennial insight, Millennial marketing, Gen Z research, Gen Z marketing, Gen Z insight, youth research, youth marketing

FOOD & RESTAURANT

Whole Foods’ top ten food trends for the coming year includes superfood tonics, tinctures, and powders, recycled foods (à la smart byproduct reuse), floral sodas and teas, and a takeover of creative condiments from ponzu to piri piri sauce. Time thinks Whole Foods’ predictions might mean mushroom-infused coffee, lavender soda, and spirulina smoothies. There are also some repeat predictions from our 2017 roundup, like purple foods and coconut everything. CNBC predicted some more industry-sweeping trends could be the use of heme and other methods to make plant-based protein bleed, and a rise in non-alcoholic drinks, a.k.a. mocktails. Meanwhile, Fast Casual surveyed restaurant CEOs for their predictions and found that the top execs at Panera, Jersey Mike’s, Fazoli’s, and Blaze all agree that restaurants need to get on board with delivery in 2018. However, other CEOs and founders predict that aesthetically-pleasing restaurants (for Instagrammability) plus adding plenty of alcohol options can reel in Millennial diners

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FASHION & RETAIL

Retail will continue to have to innovate to avoid store closures this coming year. Experiencification will still be a strong selling point for brick-and-mortar locations, who can have creative activations (like Topshop’s VR water slide) to make what The Drum is calling “a soft sell.” Getting customers to engage with the brand, even when the experience has nothing to do with the brand and doesn’t feature product, is a smart way to get customers in-store and build brand affinity. The Drum also predicts that “service-driven” experiences—like Nordstrom’s Local store, where customers can shop with assistance but not purchase any product on site—will continue to grow. In fashion, Vogue thinks we’ll see glitter continue to shine in the afterglow of the KiraKira+ app explosion, cargo pants will steal some of denim’s dominance, and The Genreless Generation will usher in more coed runway shows.

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MEDIA & ENTERTAINMENT

From print to digital video, 2018 looks to be another year of major shakeups for media companies trying to keep pace with rapid change. In digital publishing, eMarketer expects more media companies to rethink their content as they struggle to monetize their hard pivots to video over text. They also predict that production companies’ heavy investment in original content will stall out, as the number of shows available overwhelms demand and resources. Perhaps more surprisingly, they forecast that subscription service growth will start to slow, especially for Netflix, which has thus far experienced unabated growth.

2017 was a good year for books, as analog products grabbed hold of young consumers’ nostalgia. Kidscreen reports that children’s books especially have seen steady growth, with the market’s compound annual growth reaching 5.3% since 2013. 2018 will see female leads take charge between the pages, and old titles (like The Magic School Bus) get revived. While non-fiction is predicted to grow, unicorns and mermaids will also become some of kids’ favorite fantasy creatures (not unlike older demos). 

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MARKETING

Some of the marketing trends we started to see in 2017 will change and grow in the coming year—if predictions are accurate. Most seem to think influencers will have a greater reach than ever as an increasingly important piece of strategy to reach young shoppers; in fact, Forbes published an entire article about their expanding importance. They predict that advertisers leveraging The Influencer Effect will use more paid media, leverage Experiencification by sending out influencers for IRL activations, influencer agencies will take over direct relationships with companies, and more. CMS Wire predicts that brands will get more involved with virtual and augmented reality activations, and roll out more content for smart speakers like Alexa. Adweek thinks tech will have a positive impact on the ad world. Finally, after the YouTube controversy over unsafe content, they predict that brand safety will be top-of-mind for advertisers and publishers alike.

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