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People, Places & Things to Watch in 2015

Five Surprising People, Places And Things To Watch In 2015

[This is the final post in a series of six about trend sightings for 2015 and beyond.]

In previous posts, I’ve delved into fashion, beauty, design, marketing, food, business practices, social responsibility, today’s family and more. For my final post in this series, I’m turning to five trends that transcend categorization and at the same time help point the compass toward where our society is going. You likely will have heard of all of them, but their importance might come as a surprise. Here are the mega-influences for 2015:

The New York Times Magazine recently published a stating-the-obvious article about the kombucha-drinking, well-educated, lifestyle-obsessed, open-minded young people of Portland, Ore. As Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein would happily tell you, this isn’t really news. But the noteworthy line was buried at the end of the second paragraph: Portland has the country’s second-highest rate of attracting and retaining young college-educated people. Louisville, Ky., is first. HGTV’s FrontDoor blog notes that Louisville “has two personalities. There’s the urban area within the Watterson Expressway belt highway, comprising the old city and its early suburbs. It’s funky, urban and politically ‘blue.’ Yet unlike many older cities, many of its most vibrant neighborhoods never suffered ‘white flight’ and have not needed gentrifying.” And it’s affordable, livable, blessed with good weather, and home to new entertainment and sports complexes, loads of trendy restaurants, a burgeoning tourism industry, smart people, a thriving coffee culture and even its own Museum Row. Named America’s ninth most hipster city by Thrillist, the birthplace of Hunter S. Thompson has a mix of history and amenities that might make it the next Portlandia.

photo: Design Photography

photo: Design Photography

The Year of Joan Didion
“[Joan Didion] cut loose any fixed idea that I ever had about death, about illness, about probability and luck, about good fortune and bad, about marriage and children and memory, about grief, about the ways in which people do and do not deal with the fact that life ends, about the shallowness of sanity, about life itself.” That quote from influential New York Times book critic Michiko Kakutani appeared in a Fall 2014 Kickstarter campaign to fund a documentary about Didion. The campaign reached its fundraising goal of $80,000 in about 24 hours, after a big push from mainstream newspapers (Los Angeles TimesChristian Science Monitor) and the fashion industry, where Didion’s signature look has long been iconic. Vogue, where Didion worked in her early days, ran an exclusive trailer of the film. Refinery 29I Want to Be Her! (whose author, a former fashion editor, offered up a Didion-inspired wardrobe) and a host of others expressed their wild enthusiasm for the project. The team could have funded the project in many ways, but it chose Kickstarter to “reach as many people as possible.” In this way, they engaged Didion’s fawning fan base from day one, generating early buzz for what will surely be one of the most dissected films of the year.

The Korean Wave Rolls On
Fueled by social media and YouTube, the Korean Wave began as an obsession with K-pop music (remember Psy?) and South Korea’s wacky K-TV dramas (the next Bollywood). Cuisine is the “third member of the Korean Wave triumvirate,” and the South Korean government is harnessing that power. According to The Wall Street Journal, the government spent 21.9 billion won ($19.7 million) in 2012 on the “globalization of Hansik” (Korean cuisine), with former first lady Kim Yoon-ok leading the charge. It worked. An analysisby GrubHub of its 20,000-plus restaurants cited Korean food as the eighth-highest trending cuisine in the U.S., with a 22 percent increase in popularity from 2012 to 2013. And the wave rolls on: The New York Times reported on the growing popularity of South Korean skin-care products, and Women’s Wear Daily looked at the mushrooming presence of South Koreans at Fashion Week, noting that the country was once considered purely a consumer market but is becoming a trendsetting region.

Must-Read: Garden & Gun
(This is an observation about the success of a magazine and a trending geographic culture, not an endorsement of guns.) While other magazines struggle, Garden & Gun’s print and digital readership is skyrocketing. Founded by former New Yorker publisher Rebecca Darwin, the magazine...

2015 in Marketing, PR and Buzz Generation!!!

Next Year In Marketing, PR And Buzz Generation

Marian Salzman, Forbes Contributor

[This is the fifth in a series of six posts about trend sightings for 2015 and beyond.]

Communications, businesses and expectations today shift at lightning speed. If we want to succeed—marketers especially, but anyone in any industry—we have to constantly rewrite our best practices. We also need to be aware of what we’re doing now and what to expect for the future.

A lot of it in our industry will revolve around new technologies, according to Chick Foxgrover, chief digital officer at the 4A’s (American Association of Advertising Agencies, a client of my agency, Havas PR). In Ad Age earlier today, he said that a “micro trend” among some agencies is hiring hardware engineers well versed in development, product design and 3-D printing, for “prototyping products so that a creative idea may now be given some physical form.” He added: “We don’t know what to make of that yet, but it’s interesting that agencies are starting to consider the melding of the digital and physical seriously.”

Here are a few trends I see when I turn a mirror on my own industry:

Pumped-Up Perks
Management experts encourage companies to consider how they engage with millennials, who will soon make up the largest segment of the workforce. Flexible hours and dress codes, frequent feedback, an emphasis on social responsibility and a collaborative company culture are all on the increasingly standard list. And they’re all good ideas. But when creative companies take it further—sometimes by a lot—they aren’t just attracting and retaining top talent, or increasing productivity. All those free yoga classes, laundry services, manicures, climbing walls, dog-friendly office spaces, tuition reimbursements and company gyms are tools for burnishing companies’ brand halos, for getting the rest of us talking about what cool companies they’d be to work for (and, by subconscious extension, buy something from). Apple and Facebook made headlines this fall when they added egg freezing to the list of benefits offered to employees. Staff at brand consultancy BBMG are given $500 toward inspiration and another $500 for professional development, which they can decide how to use. According to Business News Daily, Patagonia encourages employees to take regular surf breaks, while Weebly pays for housecleaning and errand running. One company,FullContact, even pays employees $7,500 to go on vacation (on top of their paid vacation days) because it believes in the importance of disconnecting.



Hackathon Hysteria
Between 2005 and 2009, the term hackathon appeared four times on TechCrunch. By 2014, it was showing up in dozens upon dozens of posts. These “hacking marathons” of rapid-fire collaboration are now everywhere. In November in New York, there was a Time Inc. hackathon to generate digital ideas for the magazine industry, a New York University hackathon to reimagine technology used by students and an AT&T hackathon to create mobile apps. TechCrunch now puts on its own hackathons at its signature Disrupt conferences. Major League Hacking directs its events toward students, to tap into the tech-savvy future workforce and to encourage the coding movement at universities. Diageo sponsored a hackathon to create digital tools to help withresponsible drinking, while MIT hosted a hackathon to try and build a better breast pump. Indeed, hackathons are moving out of the tech realm and into other areas, such as lifesaving medicine. Yes, the events prompt innovation, but they’re also a means of generating PR buzz for a relatively small investment of time and resources, and we haven’t seen the end of them.

Reality Advertising Is Here to Stay
Earlier this year, Ad Age reported on global brands like Coca-Cola and Nissan adopting virtual-reality campaigns in which people wear VR goggles and motion sensors to have immersive experiences like playing soccer in the World Cup or diving off a plank. For now the technology is cumbersome—marketers have to provide the hardware—but the article pointed toward investment in better VR and stated: “Virtual reality could be transformative for the ad industry. Instead of interrupting people with ads, marketers could sponsor virtual experiences people actually seek out.” With virtuality and reality blurring, no wonder I am constantly confused: Did I just …? Are we …?

Enough About Me; Let’s Talk More About Me
Not that long ago, few people had heard of online reputation managers. But now, the industry is booming. (Last year, a Forbes contributor valued it at $5 billion, describing it as an industry “comprising hundreds of companies devoted to monitoring, repairing, improving and policing the reputation of individuals and businesses online.”)

Yet as online reputation management has exploded, it has also become commoditized. So many companies offer these services that it’s hard to differentiate one from another, and this past summer, following a ruling by the Luxembourg-based European Union Court of Justice,...

2015 in Family Caregiving & Stages of Life!!

Next Year In Family, Caregiving And Stages Of Life

[This is the fourth in a series of six posts about trend sightings for 2015 and beyond.]

My colleagues at Havas Worldwide and I launched our annual trends report last week, which forecasts an übertrend for the next 12 months of everyone focusing on their individual selves, from self-tracking to self-improvement and more. The report’s nine other trends center on the global middle class, the desire to be memorable, bugs, safe eating, frenemies, women, wild things, small business and the new local. We’ve also come up with a massive list of sightings about what’s next, which we’ll release in January but are previewing in a series here over six days. Many of them have obvious implications for marketers.

photo: Varlan

photo: Varlan

The concepts of family, parenting and life stages have taken on new relevance and economic significance as baby boomers continue aging, younger adults find themselves squeezed in the sandwich generation, and the lingering hangover of the Great Recession has created a boomerang generation of un(der)employed millennials who return home to live until well into their 30s. That’s a lot for Americans to navigate.

Below are some sightings for the near future related to these changing relationships:

In Healthcare, Parents Often Know Best
“When the Diagnosis Is Rare, Parents May Know More Than Professionals” was the headline of a New York Times article this fall. It describes how parents of children with rare diseases have used online medical literature and information-sharing tools to become so knowledgeable about their children’s conditions that they serve not just as advocates but also as the deferred-to decision makers. “Especially in the rare disease community,” the article explains, “parents’ knowledge can often easily surpass that of the children’s doctors.” According to Children’s National Health System, “Patient advocacy and parent involvement for children with rare diseases also [are] expanding.” Researchers now meet with parents to present findings and learn what’s important to them. It is in part because of parent involvement that Children’s now believes that drug development for many rare diseases is at a tipping point toward providing treatments that will transform many lives.

When It Comes to Kids, There’s a Bonus to Being Bored
Rosemary Milliman, principal of the lower school at New York’s prestigious Trinity School, routinely tells the parents of Trinity kids that the best thing they can do for their children is to allow them to be bored. Let home provide the ordinary, she says, while school provides the extraordinary. Countless experts suggest that unstructured time fosters creativity, self-sufficiency, independence and problem solving. Having “nothing to do” is an opportunity for children to flex their imagination muscle—perhaps the most important one they have. The call for boredom is a reaction to the helicopter parenting and overscheduling of upper-middle-class children today. In a post this summer called “Dear Children: Let Me Explain This Thing Called Summer,” the mommy blog We Are THAT Family summed up the new thinking:

“[F]or a long time, I provided The More. I bought into this lie that it’s my job to make my kids’ childhood magical and fun and [every day] an adventure all about them… I have fed the entitlement beast and when it rears [its] ugly head, my children aren’t the only ones to blame. Our children need to be bored. They need to kick their feet and wait outside of bathroom doors, unanswered. They need to be sent outside or to their rooms to play. They need to turn over the bag of tricks and find it empty… They don’t need a plan for entertainment. They can create their own. And that’s when summer gets magical.”

Caregivers Need Care
As baby boomers age, and with people living longer than ever before, a growing demographic of caregivers has emerged—some 65 million individuals who provide unpaid care for a friend or family member with a chronic health condition. For these caregivers, the financial responsibilities, time demands and stress take a toll. Enter technology. According to a study by Pew Internet & American Life Project, “caregivers are heavy technology users and are much more likely than other adults to take part in a wide range of health-related activities” online. So in addition to supportive publications (likeToday’s Caregiver), nonprofits (Family Caregiver Alliance andCaregiver Action Network among them), and government-funded and private programs, a number of new technologies are aiming to help. New apps include features ranging from disease information, medicine management, symptom logs and medical history to support groups and tools that allow sharing of schedules and information with other family members.

Life, Death and Instagram
Death and taxes might be certain, but the ways mourning, bereavement, death rituals and loss play out online are still evolving. Last spring, The New York Times touched on the evolving social norms for loss in the Internet Age: Should you “like” a Facebook post announcing the death of a loved one? Is it OK to text a funeral home to request a picture of your mother’s corpse? What about selfies at funerals? The article also discussed new websites that deal with grief, from ...

2015 in Fashion, Beauty & Design!!

Next Year In Fashion, Beauty And Design

Marian Salzman
Forbes Contributor

[This is the third in a series of six posts about trend sightings for 2015 and beyond.]

When many people hear the word trend, their mind first goes to fashion. Even though the cultural phenomena that I like to call Future Headlines exist in every discipline, many of us don’t recognize them as trends. A suddenly popular food, like the dressed-up biscuits that are the latest “it” meal, isn’t seen as a trend—it’s seen as the best thing ever. We believe new, of-the-moment business practices are simply the future, not ideas that come into vogue and fall back out.

Fashion, however, along with her sisters beauty and design, are obvious trends. We expect them to be in Vogue, then not in vogue. Each season, we look forward to seeing what ideas will take root thanks to the blessing of designers, creative directors, stylists, celebrities and, increasingly, bloggers and social media stars.

Here’s what these early-adopting tastemakers have brought into the mainstream for the coming year:

Your “went to the gym and skipped the shower” look is now chic. Chanel has debuted anathletic-themed lineup, Alexander Wang’s H&M collection combines couture and sport, Net-a-Porter launched a Net-a-Sporter channel ($250 yoga jumpsuit, anyone?) and thehippest store in the Hamptons sells workout wear. Tory Burch, the princess of pulled-together, is coming out with a sport line in early 2015, and Beyoncé announced a partnership with Topshop for an athletic streetwear brand. Indeed, sneakers have replaced stilettos as every style maven’s favorite footwear. Denim sales are down (and yoga pants are up). The new athleisure is part of our healthier (but hectic) lifestyle: We prioritize working out, but we’re too busy to change. Or we just want approval to wear elastic waistbands around our ever-expanding midsections.

photo: Jarvis

photo: Jarvis

Fur-Free Fashion
Designers and retailers are following the lead of Vivienne Westwood, Ralph Lauren and other top brands and forgoing fur. Last year, West Hollywood banned the sale of fur in its tony boutiques. This year, London’s hot Mahiki nightclub announced a new fur-free dress code. And Piperlime, a subsidiary of Gap Inc., said it would stop selling furafter a petition from a woman in Virginia gathered more than 50,000 signatures on The holdouts are coming under pressure: The international animal welfare group Four Paws (which successfully pushed Patagonia and the North Face to create standards for ethical down) just launched a campaign against Burberry. Last year, PETA released undercover footage from a Chinese angora farm, and after pressure from a group Jezebel described as “every human with a conscience,” Zara, Gap and other retailers temporarily banned angora.

Androgyny Is Everywhere
With roots in normcore and the tomboy style that has been popular in recent years, today’s androgyny takes in closely cropped hair, oversize silhouettes and skinny black suits with collared shirts. “[F]or fall 2014,” wrote Vogue, “we’re seeing unprecedented gender fluidity on the runway—womenswear borrowing from menswear borrowing from gals borrowing from the boys—describing clothes in terms of traditional ideas of aesthetics of the sexes feels inaccurate, not to mention stale.” Celebrities like Ellen Page, Tig Notaro, Tilda Swinton, Milla Jovovich, Jared Leto and Annie Lennox are known for their androgynous style, as are bloggers like Leandra Medine of Man Repeller and Emily Weiss of Into the Gloss. Even Gwyneth Paltrow and model Cara Delevingne have made headlines recently for their androgynous fashion choices.

She’s Come Undone
The most popular look in beauty right now is … a lack of one. Skin care now matters more than makeup; you’re better off splurging on night cream than concealer. Terms like glowingradiantno-makeupand natural make headlines galore. A few examples: “Taylor Swift’s Pretty, Glowing Skin on ‘David Letterman’—How To” (fromHollywood Life, which says, “Her skin was glowing and she ditched her usual red lip for a more natural beauty look.”); “3 Fall Food Face Masks for Glowing Skin” (...

2015 in Food & Nutrition!!

Next Year In Food And Nutrition

Marian Salzman, Forbes Contributor

[This is the second in a series of six posts about trend sightings for 2015 and beyond.]

America circa 2015 is more obsessed with what it eats—and what it doesn’t—than ever before. And we’re tending toward extremes: Some of today’s culinary trends are almost ridiculously decadent, while others are equally virtuous. (Perhaps that’s why many people are starting to advocate an 80/20 principlefor healthy and indulgent eating.) Food dovetails with nutrition, which dovetails with health. I’ll get to that later, but first the fun stuff.

photo: Zhafri

photo: Zhafri

It’s a Wing Thing
Chicken wings are hot right now—and I don’t mean just spicy—at cult-favorite foodie spots run by highly trained chefs and at cheap local chains alike. TheNew York Times recently declared a “chicken wing boom,” and the National Chicken Council’s Super Bowl wing-eating forecasts rise every year. Plus, Tyson’s frozen Any’tizers Boneless Chicken Wyngz won a Better Homes & Gardens Best New Product Award. The ultimate finger food, wings are inherently noshable, reflecting a seemingly continuous growth in snacking.

Don’t Risk It; Eat a Biscuit
The Cronut has jumped the shark. Even as predawn legions line up outside Dominique Ansel’s New York patisserie and Ansel has trademarked the name of his cult-favorite creation, Dunkin’ Donuts recently rolled out (so to speak) a croissant-doughnut hybrid in 7,900 retail stores. And while the pastry’s runaway popularity spawned other imitators and new mashups like the cragel and the pretzel croissant (whose creator picked a public fight with Ansel, perhaps to get press), foodies have moved on to a more classic flaky comfort food: Southern buttermilk biscuits. The move is both a backlash to the hybrid trend and a chance for chefs to experiment and put their own stamp on a food that isn’t claimed or trademarked. Restaurants like San Francisco’s Biscuit Bender sell biscuits in creative flavors including pumpkin spice chocolate chip and also sour cream and sage, and the Maple Street Biscuit Company out of Jacksonville, Fla., and Biscuit Head in Asheville, N.C., stuff them with everything from fried chicken to goat cheese to brisket.

Rum: No Longer Ho-Hum
Bourbon and whiskey are king, but signs point to rum soon becoming the life of the party. Tiki culture, with its ironically kitschy bars and sweet, fruity cocktails, is undoubtedly trending. And with the kitschy decor come Tiki cocktails that typically include a mix of light or dark rums, flavored syrups and fruit juices. Think the mai tai (allegedly invented by “Trader” Vic Bergeron, the godfather of Tiki), the Zombie and planter’s punch. The rum itself is getting better, too, with Caribbean rum makers upping their game. NPR noted that the Miami Renaissance Rum Festival, which drew 10,500 visitors last year, has become a central stage for what you might call the rum revolution—the recent ascent of high-end, premium rum.” U.S. craft distillers are in on it, too, with artisanal rum makers popping up in droves in New York City, PittsburghIowaand beyond.

#FoodPorn Stars
Even though it originally meant provocatively photographed, ultra-gluttonous food, the term “food porn” has expanded to include glamour shots of healthy foods like ceviche, sushi and even salad. #Foodporn has become a popular hashtag on Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest, and it is a regular feature As Thrillist wrote in June, “Finally replacing some chick’s feet on the beach as the most popular theme on Instagram, food porn is now everywhere, and it’s delicious.”

Like any social media movement, #foodporn has its stars: @smittenkitchen(from the blog of the same name), @spoonforkbacon (by a food stylist and photographer), @andrewscrivani (food photographer and New York Timescontributor) and @howsweeteats (blogger, author). Instagram stars of gastro art, which is even more stylized than food porn, include @gastroart,@dianecu,@julieskitchen and @rawveganblonde. Smart brands like Whole Foods (...

2015 Business Innovation & Social Responsibility!


Marian Salzman

It’s that time of year when my colleagues at Havas Worldwide and I have held our ears even closer to the ground than usual in order to compile our annual trends report, which launches today. We’ve also come up with a massive list of sightings about what’s next, which we’ll release in January but are previewing in a series here for the next six days. Many of them have obvious implications for marketers, and some are simply amusing.

In this post, I’ll talk about business, investment, innovation and social responsibility—both corporate and otherwise—because given the amounts of money that trade hands, and the innovation that the movements’ leaders have demonstrated, social responsibility has itself become a business.



Words of the Moment
A few years ago, stores, producers and other creative types added value by “curating” a tasteful selection of anything from music to dresses to sneakers. More recently, New York noted that “‘[d]elight’ and ‘delightful’ have become all-purpose marketing words in the tech world, trotted out to describe anything even marginally surprising or well made.” But companies are even more delighted with another word: “disrupt.” Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen describes disruptive innovation this way: “It transforms a product that historically was so expensive and complicated that only a few people with a lot of money and a lot of skill had access to it. A disruptive innovation makes it so much more affordable and accessible that a much larger population have access to it.” But now it’s just a buzzword, as Jill Lepore noted last summer in a New Yorker article titled “The Disruption Machine.” The poster children of “disruption”? They’re the “Ubers of everything”—with services from laundry to makeup application on demand. But once every service has been Uberized, what’s next remains to be pulled from the annals of marketing handbooks and SXSW.

Water Making Waves
Move over, green building and electrical energy conservation. The buzziest segment of the renewable energy and clean-tech sector right now is water innovation. The data on water scarcity is dreadful. About 1.2 billion people (one-fifth of the world’s population) live in areas where water is scarce, and another 1.6 billion live in places where the infrastructure can’t get water from to people. Companies and nonprofits are taking note. “[I]nvestments in innovative technologies and processes for reducing the drain on aquifers, detecting leaky infrastructure, reusing wastewater and addressing thetroublesome water-energy nexus are on the rise,” according to Heather Clancy of GreenBiz, citing companies like MillerCoors and Coca-Cola as leaders focusing on conservation. A quarter of startups are focused on monitoring, forecast and control, while another quarter specialize in organic, nutrients and solids treatment, according to the same writer in Forbes. In the nonprofit world, charity: water is the best-known water-focused organization but certainly not the only one.

Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Make Me a Match
One of the hottest concepts in the startup world today is an age-old one: matchmaker. Take Keaton Row, which offers personal stylists, or Spinlister, the so-called “Airbnb for bikes.” (“Airbnb of” being just about as hot as “Uber of.”) In the marketing world, Prokangaconnects freelancers with companies as needed by project. Similarly, AirPR, which launched late last year, offers a marketplace service to match pre-screened public relations and marketing talent with companies seeking these services. Co-founder and CEO Sharam Fouladgar-Mercer was inspired to launch the company (which TechCrunch called a “ for PR”) when he noticed that Silicon Valley startups had trouble finding good PR people.
We’ve all been on Kickstarter and CrowdRise. But when was the last time you checked your alma mater for a game-changing project to put your money behind? Colleges and universities across the country are using white-label, in-house crowdfunding to support student projects and businesses, faculty research, scholarships and campus life. The University of California system’sPromise for Education, an initiative to generate scholarships, asked participants to come up with a personal promise (from “do a 24-hour magic show” to “become a vegetarian”) that it would carry out if it met its fundraising goal. At Arizona State, the PitchFunder...