How did our predictions from last year fare? Highlights from brands & marketing, food & drink, beauty and retail.

Our annual Future 100 report dives into the trends, innovation and cultural changes that will drive the next year. How did last year’s predictions fare? Below, we look back at our most accurate predictions in brands & marketing, food & drink, beauty and retail.

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Balenciaga

Gamefluencers (#31)

Gaming’s popularity and reach catapulted to new heights in 2020, solidifying it as a major stage for global brand activations.

  • Instead of a traditional catwalk, Balenciaga released its Fall 2021 fashion collection in the form of a video game in December 2020. Players encounter avatars dressed in Balenciaga designs as they navigate through the five levels of Afterworld: The Age of Tomorrow.
  • Valentino dropped 20 custom virtual looks from its men’s and women’s SS20 and pre-fall 20/21 collections in Animal Crossing: New Horizons in May—inviting any of the estimated 11 million Animal Crossing players around the world to dress their characters in Valentino for free.
  • EA Sports tapped professional soccer players as influencers to promote the launch of Fifa 21 in December. The athletes competed against one another in live-streamed video game matches; it was so successful that EA Sports decided to turn what was originally a one-off event into an entirely new, ongoing franchise.
  • Athletes in other leagues have also turned into gamefluencers this year. The National Football League (NFL) will host a virtual version of its 2021 Pro Bowl, with the league’s best players competing in EA Sports’ Madden NFL ’21 video game. And in April, esports stars raced against professional Formula 1 drivers in a virtual grand prix.
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One of Harmless Harvest's coconut farms that has begun transitioning to regenerative agriculture.

Regenerative farming revolution (#49)

Mass-market brands are targeting regenerative agriculture as a key tenet of sustainable practices.

  • Starbucks is committing to regenerative agriculture as part of its plan to become “resource-positive.” In December, the company announced that it will join the Farm Powered Strategic Alliance as a founding member along with investments in and contributions to regenerative farming practices.
  • Nestle has targeted regenerative agriculture in a $3.6 billion climate plan for the next five years. One of the three core pillars of the plan is to advance regenerative agriculture and back reforestation programs; the others are to transition to 100% renewable energy by 2025 and build a carbon neutral and plant-based product range.
  • In December, Harmless Harvest launched the first coconut regenerative agriculture initiative in partnership with the Danone Ecosystem Fund. The initiative aims to transition at least half of their farms to a regenerative model by the end of 2023, with the goal of eventually becoming fully regenerative.
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Sea the Good collection by Kinship x Hyram Yarbro, courtesy of Instagram.

Blue beauty (#60)

Skincare brands are increasingly looking to the sea, incorporating marine-inspired and ocean-friendly ingredients.

  • Gen Z skinfluencer Hyram Yarbro debuted a nautical set for his first product collaboration in December. The “Sea the Good” collection was created in collaboration with Kinship, whom Yarbro chose to partner with because they use collected ocean plastic to create their product packaging. $5 from every set sold will be donated to Lonely Whale, a non-profit devoted to removing plastic from oceans.
  • One Ocean Beauty was acquired in August by Present Life, a new company founded by a former Coty CEO that pioneers plant-based, planet-friendly wellness and beauty brands.
  • Everyday Humans, Versed and Eleven by Venus Williams all launched coral reef-safe mineral sunscreens in 2020.
  • Elle crowned blue beauty “the newest wave of clean beauty” in May, and Vogue dubbed it “the latest sustainable skincare movement to sweep the industry” in July.
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As part of their Project Earth initiative, Selfridges launched Resellfridges, a permanent in-store and online Resale platform, in November.

Death of the luxury department store (#68)

In the face of store closures and bankruptcy, the high-end department store format is evolving.

  • A string of storied luxury department stores announced closures in 2020: Lord & Taylor—the oldest operating department store chain in the US—went out of business; Neiman Marcus declared bankruptcy; Macy’s announced that it will permanently close 125 stores over the next three years; and Nordstrom shuttered 16 stores.
  • To avoid the same fate, the stores that survive are embracing new shopping formats. In September, a 7,000-square-foot space within a traditional department store in Berlin became B-Warenhaus, a city-run secondhand store offering space to local thrift stores and nonprofits. The city plans to establish more stores, which include clothing and electronic repair centers.
  • Selfridges is recentering the luxury shopping experience on ethics. The retailer launched Project Earth in August, a five-year sustainable retail plan that includes clothing rental, an Oxfam charity second-hand clothing shop, on-site beauty package recycling and a “concierge” to coordinate product repairs.

Main image courtesy of Balenciaga