In a year when we have wrestled with a climate in crisis, a global pandemic and rising inflation, we are seeing a profound desire for escape. That escape takes many forms; an immersion in virtual worlds, a step away from the corporate world, the creation of new, decentralized models for ownership and governance. Yet in this great decentralization we see some vital seeds of hope and opportunity; opportunities to drive the fundamental pivots needed to create sustainable change.
Developed by Dentsu strategists and futurists from across the globe, as well as rising generation Z talent from DentsuMB, Isobar, 360i and Dentsu agencies, Dentsu’s 2022 Creative Trends Report ‘New Worlds Order’ examines five themes around the shift from traditional models of community, work and ownership toward new, decentralized and democratized models.
The first theme to be unpacked in the report is alternate realities, looking at the rise of virtual economies and the potential they create for entirely parallel universes with identity, currency and assets no less valuable than those in the real world. Dentsu explores the rise of virtual signaling – a luxury economy designed for a virtual world – and addresses the idea of ‘meta-morphosis’; the ability for young consumers to play with their identify in safe, virtual spaces and the rise of virtual streamers and YouTubers who engage with the world via avatar.
Accelerated by cryptocurrency and powered by fan communities, new models for commerce, ownership and investment have emerged, blurring the boundaries between fans and creators, owners and players. The redistributed ownership theme in the report looks at how cryptocurrency has engaged a new demographic of investors as the only investment vertical where younger audiences over index versus mature investors. In parallel, decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) have created a new model for collective ownership and collective action, while the unstoppable rise of livestreaming creates individuals with the ability to sell billions of dollars’ worth of product in a single day, reminding businesses everywhere of the need for a more human- and content-driven approach to commerce.
Another significant factor driving the great shift from the center is the ever-increasing urgency of the climate crisis. The conscious decoupling theme examines the challenge of decoupling economic growth from environmental damage. Dentsu’s annual chief marketing officer survey reveals that 81% of chief marketers agree – from access to ownership, for example, or from automotive to mobility. This need to shift from a consumption-based economy to a circular economy has seen rental models and recycling platforms gain popularity and momentum across categories such as fashion and interiors. In parallel, a generation of talent is rethinking their economic future and the primacy of work in an unpredictable climate. In August alone, 4.3 million Americans quit their jobs according to data from the labor department.
The fourth trend concerns the decentralization of identity. Generation ‘also me’ are coming of age as the most diverse, multicultural and non-binary generation in history. They navigate with ease from serious to silly, profound to playful, mixing and matching culture with the fluency of a generation raised on memes. Boundaries are effortlessly blurred; 44% use YouTube as a channel for investment advice according to data from eConsultancy, while TikTok is a powerful platform to engage with political activism. Within this context no collaboration or co-creation seems too unlikely, whether Gucci partnering with North Face, Balenciaga with The Simpsons, or Oreo with Pokemon. The mismatch is the message.
The last trend in the report is the rise of personal bubbles. While some react to an anxious climate by building virtual connections, others retrench into smaller and smaller personal spaces. The body, and the data it generates, has become a source of truth and security as next-generation wearables assume extraordinary predictive capabilities.
Though live experiences are returning, our homes have become established as our offices, gyms, bars and movie theaters, raising the bar in our expectation of in-home experiences. In parallel, deprived of the opportunity to travel, we have rediscovered the power of the neighborhood and the joys of local. New platforms are accelerating and reviving old neighborhood customs, such as the food-sharing app Olio creating a digital neighborhood where users can borrow a real cup of sugar from a virtual neighbor.
Dentsu’s chief creative officer Fred Levron concluded: “The future of creativity is collaborative creativity. What we see in this report are the incredible things that can happen when people come together in new ways to form collectives, collaborate and co-create. This is resulting in amazing alliances on new platforms that we couldn’t have imagined just a few years ago, creating things that have never been seen before. The world has changed, and centers of gravity are shifting. The future will belong to the best-connected and most agile, not necessarily the biggest.”
Patricia McDonald, head of strategy and consulting, creative at Dentsu International.