Our annual forecast of 100 trends to watch in the coming year.

Wunderman Thompson Intelligence presents The Future 100: Trends and Change to Watch in 2021, our essential trend almanac offering a snapshot of the year ahead and the most compelling trends to keep on the radar.

Cautious optimism sets the pace for 2021 as the world reflects on the challenges of 2020 and enters a hopeful year of economic rebound and societal healing. Big change is already in motion. The United Kingdom exits the European Union, a Biden-Harris administration assumes leadership, and multiple promising COVID-19 vaccines roll out around the world—offering a glimpse of a post-pandemic era.

The Future 100: 2021 charts 100 emerging trends across 10 sectors, spanning health, culture, travel and more, plus a new work section. The report also includes 21 predictions from industry experts, weighing in on their one big projection for 2021. Highlights include:

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Xsolla Unconventional

Culture: New gaming frontiers. Gaming is no longer just for gameplay; traditional gaming spaces are transforming into cultural centers where people can virtually gather for community, entertainment and business.

Tech & Innovation: Data sustainability. Climate-change conversations tend to fixate on physical waste, but what are the environmental implications of rising data usage? 

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Tentrr

Travel & Hospitality: Isolationist travel. Preference for destinations that offer nature, adventure and solitude are on the rise.

Brands & Marketing: Branding together. A new class of leadership sees brands putting aside competition and instead collaborating to tackle social and environmental challenges.

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Zuul

Food & Drink: Ghost kitchens.  “In the same way that, in the last five years, third-party delivery has helped to define the restaurant industry, the next stage of that evolution over the next five years is going to be ghost kitchens and other forms of distributed production,” Euromonitor’s global head of beverages and foodservice research Michael Schaefer tells Wunderman Thompson Intelligence.

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Geenie

Beauty: Intersectional beauty. Politicized consumers and the Black Lives Matter and intersectional feminism movements are highlighting underrepresentation and calling beauty brands out publicly.

Retail: Live commerce.  Retail-tainment moves online with engaging, tailored shopping experiences for digital-first consumers.

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Pasta Packs
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Tūla + tye

Work: Micropreneurs. Budding entrepreneurs are creatively kick-starting new businesses—and the economy.

Health: Immunity wellness. Wellness offerings are expanding to incorporate immunity strengthening elements for consumers who want to boost their defenses against viruses.

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Greenwood

Finance: Unbiased banking.  A rise in neobanks, which operate exclusively online without bricks-and-mortar branches, is addressing the frequently overlooked needs of minority groups.

For all 100 trends, including 10 from each of the above sectors, plus 21 exclusive predictions from industry experts, download the full report.

Main image by Paul Milinski, courtesy of Loftgarten