We view the future with both fear and anticipation. Many people spend many hours creating forecasts for the future, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. In fact, the only certainty about the future is that it will be different from the past. Change is inevitable. With this proviso in mind, we produced brief summaries of some of the key forecasts for 2109. Where possible, we have provided links to the source material, giving you the chance to explore in more detail if you wish.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its 2018 Summary for Policy Makers projects global warming of 1.5ºC above pre-industrial levels.
Climate models project robust differences in regional climate characteristics between present-day and global warming of 1.5°C,8 and between 1.5°C and 2°C.8 These differences include increases in: mean temperature in most land and ocean regions (high confidence), hot extremes in most inhabited regions (high confidence), heavy precipitation in several regions (medium confidence), and the probability of drought and precipitation deficits in some regions (medium confidence).
- Ethical businesses growth as a third of UK consumers actively choose to buy from brands they see as doing environmental or social good
- Personal data becomes more important and although 75% of consumers will be willing to share their data with a brand they trust, over 80% will refuse to buy from a business they do not trust to protect their data
- Authenticity continues to increase in importance with over 60% of consumers buying only from brands they judge as authentic
- Experiences will outsell products
- The Internet of Things will make shopping easier and more convenient
- Facebook Messenger will become the most important means for consumers to communicate with retailers
- Cognitive computing will become a key tool in improving customer service
- Retailers will use augmented reality to market products
According to YouGov, charities, individuals and food brands are the nations most popular ‘things’. Health charities in particular are popular and supported. The nation likes people, with David Attenborough coming top of the list of both people and ‘things’ we Brits like.
Food brands also remain popular in the nation’s wish list, with Heinz being top of the list.
According to New York City-based branding agency ClarkMcDowall’s Culturescape report, 2019 will be dominated by hashtag activism and consumer identity; more authentic, personal interactions between people and “future reality,” where the role of time drives human behaviour. The firm also sees 2019 continuing ‘the great awakening’ with new policies, philosophies and movements taking hold and shaking up what has been.
The firm also forecasts a shift to people seeking ‘normalcy’ and a return to “established knowledge for guidance on what is essential to their 21st-century lives.”
The need to own and control our own identities will become increasingly important. This means controlling who owns and shares our personal data. At Living Money we see this developing into something deeper with individuals wanting to be their own brand and not be part of a global brand, something that will have an impact on the fashion industry (see below).
Futurist consultancy Kjaer in its Global Trends 2020 analysis sees developing digital technology in four areas
- Smart, the internet off things encouraging deep learning through artificial neural networks and augmented reality. The merger of big data and social content will enable brands to be even more responsive to changing demands and trends
- Social, with crowdfunding in particular becoming more about partnership than just investment. A growing global, mobile workforce will demand resources to let people learn and grow across borders.
- Organic, with mindful consumption, cultural storytelling, authenticity and craftsmanship in demand. people will practice ‘bitterness’ through local sourcing and manufacturing, with radical openness and social responsibility. Mobile education and Massive Open Online Courses will result in a major educational transformation.
- Wellbeing will be at the fore as chronic diseases account for 75% of deaths worldwide. Personal digital analysis for balanced health, fitness and diet delivers unique solutions to help us lead better lives. This trend is set to explode as healthcare professionals become involved in designing health management systems and monitoring for prevention rather than just healing. Wellbeing will also emerge as we realise we have had enough of stuff. We will challenge the belief that The Good Life is dependent on consumption of stuff, and look elsewhere for new ideals to define a fulfilled life.
Economics is often called the Dismal Science. A look through the range of economic projections for 2019 gives an idea of why. There is little consistency in the forecasts, whether they be government or private. Views range from outright recession to steady but uninspiring growth. To be fair, the one scenario no-one forecasts is above average growth!
Of all the forecasts available we decided to base this summary on the the UN’s World Economic Situation and Prospects for 2019 document.
To be fair, this is written with the intention of helping the UN assess whether the world will be able to deliver on its Sustainable Growth Goals by 2030 as planned. However, this is no bad thing as it does extend the forecasting horizon beyond those of many other forecasts.
The authors are adamant that ‘urgent and concrete policy action is needed to reduce risks to the global economy and secure the foundations for stable and sustainable economic growth.’ In more detail, they write that:
- Economic activity at the global level is expected to expand at a solid pace of 3 per cent in 2019, but there are increasing signs that growth may have peaked
- Leading indicators point to some softening in economic momentum in many countries in 2019, amid escalating trade disputes, risks of financial stress and volatility, and an undercurrent of geopolitical tensions
- Fragilities and setbacks are present in many developing economies, accounting for the uneven pace of economic progress across the world
- Further declines or weak per capita income growth are anticipated in 2019 in Central, Southern and West Africa, Western Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean—homes to nearly a quarter of the global population living in extreme poverty
- Resource-rich countries dependent on commodity sales are struggling to tap into their development potential. Weak governance, poor institutional quality and a lack of diversification all act as barriers to socioeconomic developmen
- There is a build-up of short-term risks with the potential to severely disrupt economic activity and inflict significant damage on longer-term development prospects. These risks include escalating trade policy disputes, an abrupt tightening of global financial conditions which could spark localised financial turmoil, monetary policy adjustments or policy mistakes in developed economies and climate change and the stubbornly high levels of carbon dioxide emissions
- Rising public and private sector debt raises concerns about its long term sustainability, especially as rising debt levels have not been matched by an equivalent expansion in productive assets.
The UN goes on to list the policy challenges and way forward it deems necessary to meet the Sustainable Growth Goals. These include:
- a more inclusive, flexible and responsive multilateral system
- international tax cooperation that complements national tax policies
- fundamental shifts in policy and consumption to deliver environmentally sustainable growth
- far-sighted policy strategies to manage natural resource wealth
- outstanding education, employment policies and rural infrastructure that reduce inequality
The authors of the Business of Fashion / McKinsey State of Fashion 2019 report write that, for fashion players, 2019 will be a year of awakening. The ones who will succeed will have to come to terms with the fact that in the new paradigm that is taking shape around them, some of the old rules simply don’t work.
The authors highlight ten disruptive forces that the fashion industry will have to deal with in 2019 and beyond:
- With a cautious outlook for the global economy and other potentially destabilising factors, fashion businesses will take a more prudent approach and seek to boost productivity
- India will become a central market for global fashion; fashion players will have to be innovative to serve an educated tech-savvy affluent middle class that rubs shoulders with the poor and upwardly mobile
- The world faces a shake-up of global trade and value chains. Fashion could be reshaped by new barriers, trade tensions and uncertainty, which could also create opportunities, especially in a new ‘South-South’ trade alliance.
- Pre-owned, refurbished, repaired and rented clothing will become more popular and fashion will need to tap into new markets seeking affordability and there permanent ownership of clothes
- Increasing awareness and importance of social and environmental causes will induce fashion players to become more purpose driven to attract both consumers and talent. As such, fashion businesses will take a stronger stance on these issues beyond traditional CSR
- With mobile equipped consumers wanting it ‘now or never’, fashion businesses will focus on shorter lead times, improved availability of advertised products and new tech such as visual search
- After years of flouting data ownership principles, fashion consumers will demand far greater transparency in order to maintain trust. Fashion players will be far more transparent in explaining the value they offer for consumers’ money, their creative integrity and the protection of their customers’ data.
- A new breed of small emerging brands are accelerating thanks to decreasing traditional brand loyalty and a growing appetite for newness.Traditional brands will start down the path of self-disruption; this will have a significant impact on their operating models
- Digital platforms will expand beyond straightforward retail as e-commerce players innovate by adding profitable value-added services to their existing retail business. This is likely to be through investment in in-house R&D or through M&A activity
- Automation and data analytics will lead to made-to-order production on e-commerce platforms and in shops, providing a faster response to trends and consumer demands. Just-in-time production and short, small-batch production cycles will be the new norm.