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2021 is Finally Here—This is What Experts Are Predicting for the Year

We rounded up the biggest predictions about food, retail, tech, and entertainment for 2021. Here’s what experts from various industries are saying will trend in the upcoming year…


After a year of, yes, unprecedented, changes across every industry—what will the 2021 hold? Expert predictions abound, and we’ve curated some of the biggest forecasts for the coming months:


Shopping was a major consumer activity that moved online in 2020. YPulse’s Retail’s New Reality report found that 85% of 13-39-year-olds have shopped online for items, clothes, food, and numerous other items since COVID began. Early 2021 will continue to be online-focused with young consumers still waiting on vaccine availability to be comfortable with in-store shopping. And at the same time, many of their online shopping have become habitual during this year. In the wake of this unprecedented shift to ecommerce, The National Retail Federation is predicting a slew of changes when it comes to retail that includes a “tumultuous change” in retail supply chains, a “voracious” appetite for resale and recommerce, and “blurred lines” in retail as companies work to develop ways to service and support the customer’s journey. For instance, they’re projecting that direct-to-consumer brands will “flex” their partnership muscles and explore models that will see “growth and profitability.” Social shopping has already been quickly picking up among young consumers, and livestreaming is expected to “take center stage in 2021.” According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau, livestream-generated sales are expected to “double” to $120 billion worldwide next year. Digital Information World is predicting that Instagram and TikTok are both likely to ramp up their “in-stream shopping” and ecommerce offerings. And according to Retail Info Systems is expecting, along with the increased online shopping, that technology will emerge even more, while “omnipresent integration” will become more prominent as well.

2020 was certainly a difficult year, but if there’s one thing that helped young consumers get through it; it was food. YPulse’s Comfort in the Kitchen report found that 76% of 13-39-year-olds agree: “Food has given me comfort during COVID.” New food and drink trends flourished during  quarantines as young people got creative in their kitchens. The plant-based trend, which they were already fueling pre-pandemic, was accelerated. Alcohol had a moment too, as plenty of cooped up young people increased drinking to alleviate stress. But what are food experts predicting for 2021? Whole Foods’ roundup list includes healthy snacks, grown-up baby food, “boozed-up boocha” (alcoholic kombucha), and coffee “beyond the mug.” According to Food & Wine, plant-based dishes are definitely here to stay. They’re also predicting that comfort food is sticking around as welland our research aligns: 45% of 13-39-year-olds saying they have eaten more comfort food since COVID began. Meanwhile, with calls for more diversity following the Black Lives Matter protests this year, the food publication is predicting that “deeper dives into Black foodways” and heritage cooking as consumers take a stronger interest in cultural dishes. Unsurprisingly, at-home restaurant experiences are being projected to be ramped up as well, with restaurants providing better ways to package food, and safer ways to present them to customers. Meanwhile, the NYTimes is predicting that meal kits from chefs will be big, more drinks from cans, labels worth reading, “homegrown tastes,” and “food for the bedroom” as more young consumers’ continue to find ways to prioritize their mental health


When COVID first hit, many in-person events were postponed or cancelled altogether. But as time went on, companies found ways to move them online, with virtual events and concerts growing massively in 2020. Variety is predicting that virtual engagement is going to continue booming. Livestreaming, personalized Cameo messages, and in-game events paved the way for that—and it’s expected to become even bigger and better. Meanwhile, after Warner Bros.’s major announcement about releasing their titles for 2021 in theaters and for streaming on HBO Max, the film business is expected to shift homeward even more. In general, streaming has become a major part of young viewers’ lives in lockdowns. Bloomberg thinks Netflix is up to something and is predicted to “make a splash” with something new. They also think Disney+ will steal everyone’s thunder, calling the streamer the one to keep an eye on in the new year. However, with vaccines set to be further rolled out in 2021, Variety is predicting that venues will begin reopening and that in-person events will make a comeback, and Bloomberg believes movie theaters will survivebut with changes. YPulse found that a majority of young consumers are excited to attend large gatherings after receiving the vaccine. Meanwhile, after an explosive year, gaming is expected to get even bigger with cloud-based mobile gaming and 56 networks “accelerating” things further.