Our trend predictions for 2017 may be the most personal to date–personal as in very much pertaining to you. While the trends are global, they will be felt locally, as the overall blowback from a year of turbulent winds hits many of us smack in the face. So while marketers mine our annual trends for insights about how to sell products in ways that will tap into your psyche, you may want to see which of these actually are getting into your head and way of life, impacting your everyday, your workplace, your kids and the people you care about.
Your health: For years, we’ve been expecting cellphone use to impact our health–specifically, brain health, as a result of radiation. Though a major new study in May has reignited cancer concerns, this trend pertains to more straightforward physical problems (and not just the Mr. Magoo, funny-not-funny Pokémon GO injuries that made headlines in 2016). In addition to the heartbreaking lethality of texting while driving, which caused more than 17,000 deaths in the first six months of 2016 alone (an increase of over 10 percent from 2015), you’re also growing more aware of texting thumb syndrome, cellphone neck and eyestrain.
Your social media platforms: Idealists imagined the internet as a space for different people to share differing ideas. Instead, the trend has been for similar people to huddle together and share similar ideas. 2016 marked the high point (so far) of this echo-chamber trend. With the unexpected success of Brexit in the U.K. and Donald Trump in the U.S., you have witnessed the power of loud voices to tap, express and even manipulate fears and frustrations and then foment and coalesce audiences online. Even though a diversity and plurality of insights and opinions is only a click away, nobody is listening to anyone with a different POV. Don’t expect these chambers and bubbles to get any less powerful or entrenched.
Your home: It takes steely determination to follow the principles that make life simple: to declutter and tidy your home Marie Kondo-style, to apply the Getting Things Done methodology of David Allen and cut through distractions with Cal Newport’s Deep Work focus. But more and more people are at least drawn to accept the challenge. This trend is about craving and attempting simplicity rather than attaining it. It’s about buying Dave Bruno’s The 100 Thing Challenge rather than actually owning only 100 things.
Your wardrobe: The more billionaires and tech stars wear T-shirts and jeans, the more even a vest and open-collar dress shirt look like last-century throwbacks. Remember the quaint daring of casual Fridays? Increasingly, the main reason not to come to work in shorts is not dress code; it’s that air-conditioned workplaces are too cold. And as working from home becomes more common, there’s no need to get dressed at all beyond pajamas or T-shirts and boxer shorts. But that doesn’t mean you aren’t dressing for work if you work from home: Many are, as an effective easer of the anxiety that comes from such dramatic changes in how and where we do our jobs.
Your diet: Now that more of us are 100 percent clear on the fact that sugar substitutes are not a healthier replacement for real sugar (with the possible exception of stevia), we’ve started to face the fact that avoiding it or eliminating it all together needs to be the new normal. Your local government may even be implementing a sugar tax: Philadelphia’s soda tax is all set to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2017, and four additional cities passed similar taxes on Nov. 8: San Francisco; Oakland, California; Albany, California; and Boulder, Colorado. And because our favorite sugar-sweetened beverages will have to be replaced with something, look for plant-based waters to climb in popularity, with watermelon and birch waters joining coconut waters on the shelves of many supermarkets.
Your brain: For many, there is a sense of being sucked into our smartphones and tablets in ways that have all the empty, repetitive twitchiness of addiction. This awareness is especially acute for parents raising the first post-iPhone generation and seeing the compulsiveness and irritability triggered by screen usage in the developing minds of our littles. Your use of devices, and willingness to upgrade, will stay strong–but the sneaking sense that there is a very insidious Mr. Hyde lurking within this Dr. Jekyll of technology will grow.
Your shopping habit: Online shopping preferences are increasingly going mobile, helped by faster wireless connections, bigger mobile screens and consumers’ virtually umbilical connection to their devices. At $12.7 billion, American spending through mobile devices in the 2015 holiday season significantly outstripped expectations. Knowing that consumers always have their mobiles on, retailers will increasingly be using in-store beacons to deliver promotions and offers to you.
See all 17 trends for 2017 here.