Category Archives: culture mapping

Global Generation Z 2021

Global Generation Z 2021 (Google Slides)

Global Generation Z 2021 (PDF download)

With the send-off of the Class of 2020 to college in all its forms — in-person, hybrid and Zoom, we have launched the first round of children who have never known a world prior to 9/11. They’ve grown up with worried and questioning parents on all ends of the political spectrum. And just when they are about to break out on their own, COVID-19 brings their senior year to a screeching halt, making their entry into adulthood one of trepidation. Every social misstep is a landmine to set them back and keeps their slightly older Gen Z counterparts in suspended animation. To know them, we need to understand that within Gen Z lives a breadth of archetypes underscored by a foundational commonality.   

Concepts of grit, resilience and resourcefulness come up during conversations centered around Generation Z. Without question, the pandemic has strengthened their sense of responsibility, both within their local communities and globally. Yet, a June 2020 CDC study reports that presently 74.9% of 18-24 year olds in the US have more than one adverse mental or behavioral health symptoms. These two states of affair existing simultaneously are counterproductive for the success of Generation Z. The Silent Generation lived through their years of crises but were given hope coming out of World War II. Generation Z, however, is halted in their tracks when they should be able to soar. This time of growth is fraught with tension on normal pre-Covid days. The sustained suspension they have now is not easy to endure. The meaning of all this needs to be unraveled quickly. The normalizing of virtual relationships of all kinds already has begun to take hold out of necessity.

Macro Trend Themes: Sense of Agency, Quest for Allies, Bandwidth Pitfalls, Meaningful Human Skill, Climate Change Dread, Meaningful Policy, Womenonmics, Relentless Tension

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Country Clusters: Cluster One (Traditional) USA/UK/France/Japan Cluster Two (Cautious) China/India/Mexico/South Korea Cluster Three (Constrained) Turkey/Russia/Philippines/Nigeria Cluster Four (Introspective) Venezuela/Iran

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Micro Trend Themes: Residual Trends: Age Restrictions, Teen Networks, Shifting Sport Engagement; Dominant Trends: Community Building, Aligning Reality, Social Responsibility; Emergent Trends: Aware and Advocating, Cultural Movements, Food Security; Disruptive Trends: Women Normalizing Sport, Digital Coping, Music as Diplomacy

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Home Trends 2021

Home Trends 2021

Home Trends 2021 (Google Slides)

Home Trends 2021 (PDF download)

MACRO TREND THEMES: Resisting the bunker mentality; Taming the panopticon; Remembering humanity; Rethinking the healthy home; Ongoing evolving migration patterns; Aging populations; Rethinking what brings us joy; Rethinking the commoditization of home; Responsibility as the foundation; Reframing time and space; Making sense of place; Empowering agile materials and techniques; Adaptive and predictive machines for living; Expanding concepts of experience

CES 2021 PRODUCT TREND THEMES: (Whole House) Quick fixes; Empowering devices; Flexibility and adaptability; Ongoing data collection (Kitchen) Design Styling; Adaptive Living; Cultivating and experimenting; Circular rituals (Living Room) Aspirational space; Immersiave space; Human experiences; Designed to protect (Bedroom) Shelter in place; Maximizing downtime; Curative space; Proactive inducement (Bathroom) Prescriptive formulas; Immersive and responsive; Health maintenance; Self-sustaining efficiency

“We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims,” said R. Buckminster Fuller. Out of necessity, the future of our homes is coming at us fast. It is loaded with technology and all that tech can do. We need to quickly understand and get ahead of this evolution of home design so that we can better inform what we need. The opportunities for home design will come from a better understanding of how human traits of behavior are adapting to change as well as earlier detection and action on the fragility of our future.

To better understand the context of what is emerging out of this COVID19 moment for home design, we looked at home-related products that will be shown at CES 2021.

We processed concepts through scenarioDNA’s culture mapping matrix to differentiate disruptive from emerging and residual from dominant codes. The analysis reveals greater opportunities to redirect new technologies to more abstract aspects of behavioral change.

Products and ideas exist across a spectrum of archetypes from residual to disruptive. What we are seeing in this is a trajectory of trends. The concern for makers is to understand where you are as a brand in relation to how people are thinking. The most provocative concepts are often the mundane ones that have an impactful tweak. Think of ambient light solar power and hydro-powered speakers informing future off-the-grid possibilities. Knowing what we are feeding now is critical.

Necessity continues to breed invention. At CES 2021, products shown reflect our time: air purification, entertainment, healthcare. Truly compelling is how we are handling the prospects of inclusivity, scarcity and waste. The recent scarcity of necessities has expedited new means of creation and new perspectives. Consider the device that uses an electric catalyst to turn water into plentiful disinfectant. Or the enzyme-powered compost that turns organic waste into air. We need to think ahead like that.

Fears about genetically modified foods are cultural not scientific

Many people strongly object to genetically modified plants, but foods like sweet potatoes and grapefruits are a reminder that that these concerns are cultural rather than based on science.

Read more:

Circular economy centres to drive UK to a sustainable future / Culture Mapping policy into design frameworks

Five new centres were announced today as part of a £22.5 million government investment. They will explore how reusing waste materials in the textiles, construction, chemical and metal industries could deliver huge environmental benefits and boost the UK economy. Read more

Recycle sign Symbol on Eco Shopping bag Environmental friendly

Mapping Archetypes & Stories

Can Supreme survive its acquisition by VF Corp?

Many are wondering what the news of VF Corp’s acquisition of Supreme means to the brand. The bigger question is what it means to the future of fashion. The signals tell us that there is a lot of work for this to be successful.

At some point a brand just becomes a cheap logo. Younger fashion consumers are numb to the lack of imagination in fashion retail at the moment. For them, thrift and resale has taken on a new meaning. Brands like Depop are more Supreme than Supreme now. The younger consumer is re-seizing the role they play in the fashion system. Innovation will rely on recognizing their involvement and that cycle of meaning to know where both Supreme and fashion as a whole will go next. And, no, it is not as simple as “let the customer design what they want.” They know they want inspired thinking. “What does that mean?” is the big question.

Mapping the culture of a brand as a system of human ideologies and stories helps us assist clients in getting ahead of cultural changes and their broader implications. A former subculture brand moving to more of a brand license means looking at the sustainability of the acquisition and how it is handled from the start. 

Companies too often make fatal mistakes by buying into trends too late as they become obvious to see. Their process is one of autopsy. Popularity is a signal of dilution as much as it is growth. The reason these mistakes are fatal is because they are being conducted after the fact of former success. There is no room for vision. Investor needs are easily met by reaching back to what worked before. The consumer rhythm of engagement is one of asystole. There is no electric and they walk away.

 Supreme’s recent successes has actually been the harbinger of Supreme’s decline and the rise of other more localized global fashion trends. Supreme has not been Supreme for some time. The pandemic has accelerated the fragility of brand engagement in new ways prior to COVD-19. The inability for wealthy consumers in China to travel has changed the nature of fashion social currency in those growing markets.

 That is not to say there are no opportunities here. The price of entry in buying this brand begs the question of what you get. I am reminded of the failed acquisition of Tiffany’s earlier this year. What do you do with it once it is yours?