As humanity undergoes a paradigm shift with identity at its heart, advances in technology are ushering in a new reality and prompting people to question what it means to be human, says VML. 
Insight from VML's The Future 100: 2024 lays out 100 trends set to shape consumer spending over the next year.

According to VML, the report finds that consumers are in their Slow Living era — known as 'The Great Deceleration' — slowing down their lifestyles and opting for a mindful approach to the year ahead.

What's more, in a post-Covid world that is being shaped by a bewildering amount of technology, people are craving authentic human connection more than ever before.

Connected brands are thriving

In this new paradigm, the most successful and fastest-growing brands are connected brands, as people seek emotional engagement with the brands they buy from.

Data collected exclusively for The Future 100: 2024 reveals 79% of people believe "the role of a brand has changed over the past five years", with the top three roles of brands to:
  • make the world a better place (40%)
  • improve people's health and wellbeing (38%), and
  • create a more positive and helpful future (32%).  
Emma Chiu and Marie Stafford, co-authors and global intelligence directors at VML, say, "As 2024 unfolds, an intentional slow-down shifts the pace for people and businesses after years of rapid acceleration."

"Community and connection at scale are essential to 2024, with 67% of people agreeing that community is more important than one individual, and 76% believe that technology helps bring people together. With most consumers looking for surprise, mystery, awe and wonder in their lives, new experiences that engage a wide spectrum of emotions are in demand. A profound and enriching year awaits," add Chiu and Stafford. 
According to the report, human connection and belonging are themes that are especially relevant to the South African context.

VML South Africa's Parusha Partab says, "The Future 100 is one of our most anticipated reports, and this year is no exception. It illuminates a profound truth that resonates deeply with us here in South Africa — the universal human yearning for connection and community, echoing our local ethos of Ubuntu."

"In the realm of branding, the concept of connected brands has ascended to unprecedented importance. In the wake of the pandemic, technology has been thrust into the spotlight. Yet, this report serves as a timely reminder that technology is merely an instrument. We can't forget that our consumers are real people with real feelings, needs and problems," Portab adds. 

World's first virtual futurist

VML says 2024 marks the 10th year of The Future 100. To celebrate this milestone and bring the report to life, VML has launched F.L.I.C (Future. Learning. Interactive. Connected.), a fully interactive AI avatar that can answer real-time questions about the report.

Using Epic Metahuman, VML created a photo-realistic face for F.L.I.C and chose longstanding technology partner Odyssey to stream this Unreal Engine 5-based app to users. The proprietary technology, which is exclusive to Odyssey, creates photo-realistic, virtual personifications to give a face to AI, and allows clients to access and interact with F.L.I.C directly through their web browser. F.L.I.C will be live on Tuesday, 6 February. 
The Future 100 covers 10 sectors, including:
  • culture
  • technology
  • travel and hospitality
  • brands and marketing
  • food and drink
  • beauty
  • retail
  • luxury
  • health, and
  • innovation.

VML says included for the 10th anniversary are original consumer data from surveys in nine different countries, as well as interviews with experts across various fields to give their takes on the past decade and what to look out for in 2024.
The Future 100: 2024 report can be downloaded here. 

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*Image courtesy of contributor