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Fjord Trends 2022: The new fabric of life

EXPLORE THE TRENDS

1. Come as you are

People are fundamentally thinking differently about their sense of agency over their own lives, supported by new opportunities like the side-hustle economy. The rise in individualism and independence has major implications for organizations, relationships with employees and consumer-creators. Businesses should keep this in mind when defining their value proposition to attract and retain employees. Read more.
2. The end of abundance thinking?

Those who have been able to rely on the availability and convenience of the things they want are having to think again. Scarcity, shortages, distribution delays, austerity laws and sustainability factors are driving forward the nature-positive movement and a more measured approach to consumption. Read more.
3. The next frontier

The metaverse is showing promise beyond its gaming roots to offer people and brands a new place to interact, create, consume and earn. Its true potential is yet to be seen, but it has the makings of a new cultural evolution. Finding success here will rely on brands’ understanding of their customers in this new world. Read more.
4. This much is true

Asking questions and having them answered immediately has become part of everyday life, but people are increasingly doubting the answers they get. Combined with the proliferation of channels and sources, this is a design and business challenge. Those who meet it will earn trust and competitive edge. Read more.
5. Handle with care

The desire to care is a fundamentally human trait, but it’s now more visible, valued and openly discussed. Regardless of their connection with health, organizations must now define how they embed care into their practices and offerings—for employees, customers and wider society. Read more.
6. Fjord Trends in more detail

From the WWD Voices podcast—featuring Fjord Trends co-author Mark Curtis—to an African perspective on this year's set of trends and much more, explore additional thinking from our trend experts.

1. COME AS YOU ARE

What’s going on

An era of post-traumatic growth is taking shape, at scale, manifesting as deeper relationships, openness to new possibilities, a greater sense of personal strength, a stronger sense of spirituality, and a more profound appreciation for life.

People are questioning who they are and what matters to them and, in many cases, they’re finding new confidence to show up as themselves. There’s also a growing humanization of the workforce; professional and private lives are blending more, and admitting to not being okay is no longer a sign of weakness at work.

It’s all part of a trend toward individualism and independence. People are feeling a stronger sense of agency over how and where they spend their time and attention. By the middle of 2021, global economies were opening back up and workers were in demand. The Great Resignation saw people quitting their jobs in line with new priorities that came into focus during pandemic lockdowns.(Great Resignation)。1
Supplementing or replacing primary income is easier for people, thanks to tech platforms with channels and tools for turning their hobbies and talents into businesses. In the United States, people make an average of US$10,972 a year from side-hustles like teaching, writing blogs/newsletters, renting out their homes, freelance programming and more.2

This shift in opportunities and attitudes around work and income has a direct impact on traditional employment. Many businesses, grappling with the repercussions of having a workforce that has been physically apart for so long, are worried about team dynamics, effective innovation and collaborative working. Tension is growing as employee preferences don’t necessarily match what’s best for a business.

The rising individualism underlined by a “me over we” mentality is stressing empathy between colleagues within companies and changing people’s aspirations as customers, which presents new challenges and opportunities for employers and brand owners alike.3

The rising individualism underlined by a “me over we” mentality presents new challenges and opportunities for employers and brand owners alike.

What’s next

WE SUGGEST

Think

Reflect on the rise in self-agency and “me vs we” mentality, and the implications for your organization–how will you attract and retain talent and customers in this new context?
Say

Clearly verbalize the value of groups, community, and teams, and how the rise of self-agency and the need for collectivism can coexist for the good of your organization.
Do

Get creative about how your company’s value proposition can evolve to accommodate for people with multiple sources of income. Act on any weak spots within your organization to ensure your employees don’t walk away.

2. THE END OF ABUNDANCE THINKING?

What’s going on

Over the past year, many of us have witnessed and felt what it’s like to face empty shelves, rising energy bills and shortages in everyday services. It’s come as a shock to those of us who have been able to get whatever we want with minimal effort—those who have been lucky enough to enjoy "abundance thinking".

The supply chain crisis started with lockdown’s impact on the manufacturing industry, continued with the Ever Given container ship blocking the Suez Canal4, and was made worse by a shortage of trucks and drivers, which stalled traffic flow through the world’s busiest ports.5 A wide array of materials, parts and goods fell into short supply, ranging from coffee to semiconductor chips.

In many countries, these issues slammed the brakes on abundance thinking. Suddenly, scarcity became a feature in people’s expectations.
Climate change has been another key catalyst. In the wake of natural disasters, from unseasonal flooding to devastating wildfires, people are starting to understand the impact of their consumption habits on the planet.

Events of the past year have also revealed how interconnected and interdependent our commercial infrastructure is, something shoppers might have not been aware of before. For example, when a rise in world gas prices forced the UK’s biggest fertilizer manufacturer to suspend production, a largely unforeseen impact was a sharp drop in the supply of one of its by-products—industrial CO2—which in turn threatened the supply of plastic-wrapped foods like fresh meat.6

While supply chain shortages might be a temporary challenge, the impact is expected to persist and open the door to a shift in our abundance thinking, particularly relating to the environment. Scarcity of goods could affect customers’ morale, and brand owners should prepare to manage expectations around convenience and sustainability.

When designing for the balance between affordability and sustainability, organizations need to decouple innovation from the notion of "new".

What’s next

WE SUGGEST

Think

Contemplate what this supply chain disruption means for your business, and your customers. Can you create new business models by extending existing product life?
Say

Tell your innovation teams and product development teams that innovation does not have to mean new. Quite often, working under constraints yields the most creative solutions.
Do

Establish your sustainability roadmap to get your business and your customers to net neutral—and, further, to nature positive.

3. THE NEXT FRONTIER

What’s going on

Metaverse fever is spreading around the world, bringing with it promises, excitement and unanswered questions.

The metaverse is a new convergence of physical and digital worlds, an evolution of the internet that enables people to move beyond “browsing” to “inhabiting” in a shared experience—enhanced by advancements in 3D, Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR). It’s a place where people can meet and where digital assets—land, buildings, products, and avatars—can be created, bought and sold. This new system of place will shift our digital behavior and has the makings of a new cultural epoch. Brands will need to understand how/if their customers will exist in this new world.

Expanding beyond its gaming roots, for some, the metaverse is becoming a new place to make money. The “creator economy” is growing to encompass future metaverse employment: creators will make assets; performers will create real-time content; bridgers will connect the physical to the digital world; participants will learn, explore and enhance; builders will design and organize experiences; the community will help, attract and engage.8 Other people are making money by playing and learning. Play-to-earn, create-to-earn, and learn-to-earn are all models that are turning fun activities into work.

Creators and artists are minting digital assets such as photographs, videos, music and art on non-fungible tokens (NFTs). An NFT authenticates a person’s possession of a digital asset, meaning the deed of ownership can’t be copied. This move creates scarcity and builds desirability into digital items, which is something we haven’t seen before.

Over the past year, we’ve also observed that people are looking for a multi-player experience for non-gaming activities like watching movies. For instance, Netflix created a new feature for people to watch content together while apart.9

The metaverse is less about becoming immersed in a fantasy world of unicorns and dragons and more about escaping physical limits to spend time in a virtual space that’s a version of, or extension of, real life.

The metaverse’s future will be interesting to watch unfold. We have more questions than answers on what it will ultimately become, but we can be certain that the first vision of the metaverse will not be the last.

As brands capitalize on opportunities in the metaverse, we encourage open debate around the ethics relating to who people are and what they do there.

What’s next

WE SUGGEST

Think

Consider your product in the metaverse—how it’s seen, how it’s purchased, where it goes, how it’s used by your metaverse customers. The lifecycle of your product, brand, and experiences requires a complete mindset shift. The metaverse is a place and not just another channel.
Say

Ask people (especially young people) about the games they’re playing and the clothes they’re buying for their avatars. Talk about the experiences they’re having with their friends online to learn more about the metaverse’s potential.
Do

Approach the metaverse with curiosity and playfulness, but always with integrity, ethics, care, and respect for the environment.

4. THIS MUCH IS TRUE

What’s going on

Increasingly, brands will likely compete with one another on information layers—if one brand owner decides not to include them, a rival brand might.

What’s next

WE SUGGEST

Think

Research the types of questions customers are now asking in—and of—your industry. Outside of your sales channels, consider where people go to get information about your company or products, and how you can create information layers that mean they don’t have to go there.
Say

Tell your customers that you want to make sure they feel confident buying from you by giving them more transparency and information at the point of sale.
Do

Design new information layers to build trust with your customers and communities and prove your commitment to answering your customers’ ever-increasing questions about your product and services—in ways that are easily discoverable both inside and outside the sales channel. Use data to understand as much as you can about the layers each customer is seeking.

5. HANDLE WITH CARE

What’s going on

Visibly caring for customers builds brand trust. It means aligning with moments that matter, creating new services, and harnessing technology.

What’s next

WE SUGGEST

Think

Treat care as both formal and informal. Acknowledge that care is important, emotionally taxing work. Consider how you can develop products and services—and the KPIs related to them—around the needs of people who have care as part of their daily work.
Say

Clearly communicate that care is not transactional. Define what care means for your organization and use it as a guiding principle in your design work and communications.
Do

Declutter your organization of the things that most frustrate your employees and customers. Look for ways to minimize the noise, (such as communications, internal processes, external products/services), to give people more time and space for the things that matter.

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