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The workplace trends for 2017

Marian Salzman
employee ownership

After many twists and turns in 2016, what will be the Impact of upheaval on the New Year? World-renowned trendspotter Marian Salzman and the Havas PR team has released the forecast for next year in the form of 17 global trends.

The predicted trends cover everything from how we will eat, dress and decorate our homes to how we will feel about gender, politics and our life and times (in two words: fighting mad). Havas PR’s annual trends report, Blowback to the Future: The Trends That Will Shape 2017, which can be viewed and downloaded here, is a much sought-after guide and an end-of-year reading tradition for many brands and marketers who, come January, want to shift their focus on the good, the bad and the ugly in order to better understand the mind and mood of consumers around the world.

Several of the trends in this year’s report serve as a commentary on the unintended consequences of major events like the Brexit vote and the U.S. election,” says Marian Salzman, CEO of Havas PR North America and author of the report. “In times of major upheaval, it’s all the more important for brands, businesses and organizations, and perhaps even whole societies, to recognize what is happening so that we can respond wisely. One thing most people aren’t doing is responding calmly; that’s why 2017’s ubertrend is blowback. The good news is that the prevailing sense of ‘enough already’ is there to be harnessed by astute commercial, social and political entrepreneurs.

Havas PR trends from years past have been proven correct again and again, including the rise of 2010’s universal brain-health movement and the predicted (and now studied) connection between smartphones and cancer-causing agents. See also: 2011’s prediction that more stringent legislation would be introduced around brain damage suffered by football players (fast-forward to the 2015 film Concussion); the prediction of a new class of prebiotic supplements in 2014; and too many other predictions-come-true to list.

The 17 trends for 2017 are:

1: Boiling Points: The predicted blowback may not always be pretty: People are more energized to act against what they don’t want (whether it be Airbnb or Donald Trump) than for what they do want.

2: Echo Chambers: Even though a diversity and plurality of insights and opinions is only a click away, nobody is listening to anyone with a different POV these days.

3: Going Ethnographic: When real insights are needed, a survey is no substitute for close personal contact with ordinary people in ordinary places.

4: Dr. Jekyll Technology: As more tech evangelists champion innovation’s ability to replace real workers, they risk welding suspicion of innovation to the economic uncertainty of declining jobs.

5: Cell Phone Health Scare: With the number of smartphone users worldwide currently over two billion and growing, there’s a massive market shaping up to investigate and treat the ailments that will certainly emerge.

6: Rediscovering Privacy: Expect the demand for greater privacy to grow, much to the benefit of those brands and businesses that get it and help facilitate it.

7: Scatalogical Gets Logical: Menstruation, urine and poop transplants are all part of today’s TMI media diet.

8: Confused Men: The big trend driving the malleability of manhood: Men’s underlying anxiety about what is manly now and who the heck decides?

9: Confusing Women: What do women expect now and what do they feel is expected of them? How they align, balance and reject those answers will form a roiling, ongoing dialogue.

10: Dressed for Zuckerberg Success: The more billionaires and tech stars wear T-shirts and jeans, the more a vest and open-collar dress shirt look like last-century throwbacks.

11: Sugar Showdown: The public’s burgeoning interest in “clean” food has left even less room in our diets for “dirty” sugar.

12: Pleased to Meatless: There are big bucks waiting for companies that can satisfy the appetites of burger aficionados with a conscience.

13)  Unstoppable E-Tail: Knowing that consumers always have their mobiles on, retailers will increasingly be using in-store beacons to deliver promotions and offers to browsing shoppers.

14: Huge Hygge: Our nostalgic quest for the warmth and comforts of food, friends and connections (which the Danish call “hygge”) is perhaps one reason why “Make America Great Again” resonated the way it did.

15: Pedal Power to the People: A growing numbers of mayors and citizens are trying out bicycles as a smart way to tackle their mobility problems—and get a little exercise at the same time.

16: Life Hacks: For marketers, tracking life hack searches has to be one of the smartest new product hacks available.

17: The (Elusive) Beauty of Simplicity: 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. And let’s face it, that’s good news for many marketers.

“As a trendspotter, you don’t just predict a trend,” says Salzman. “You also have to predict that trend that will stem from a previous trend, or an unexpected event. Needless to say, a Trump presidency will shape our future in more ways than any pundit could tell you.” The Trends That Will Shape 2017” is available for download in the Brainfood section of, alongside previous trends reports, agency white papers and a trends FAQ with Salzman.

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