On this episode, we’re scanning the Futurescape: the subject of a new frog report that examines evolving consumer behaviors and future business opportunities. To guide us across the Futurescape and to unpack the many forces at work shaping it today, we’re joined by Liron Reznik, Executive Strategy Director, Head of Brand Strategy and Consumer Strategy, in New York. Liron worked with a team of frogs to take a look at what’s ahead for people, business and the planet, and along the way uncovered six major pillars and 12 macro-trends that are shaping tomorrow.
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Download the frog Futurescape report.
Design Mind frogcast
Episode 26: Scanning the Futurescape
Guest: Liron Reznik, Executive Strategy Director, Head of Brand Strategy & Consumer Strategy, frog NY
[00:09] Welcome to the Design Mind frogcast. Each episode, we go behind the scenes to meet the people designing what’s next in the world of products, services and experiences, both here at frog and far, far outside the pond. I’m Elizabeth Wood.
[00:24] Elizabeth Wood: Today on our show, we’re taking a trip to a place we’re calling the ‘Futurescape.’ The Futurescape is a place built on decentralized connections and thriving micro-communities. It’s a place where culture is no longer bound by geographic regions and sustainable behaviors are simply an intuitive, convenient way of life. It’s also the subject of a new frog report. To guide us across the Futurescape and to unpack the many forces at work shaping it today, we’re joined by Liron Reznik, Executive Strategy Director, Head of Brand Strategy and Consumer Strategy, in New York. Liron worked with a team of frogs to take a look at what’s ahead for people, business and the planet, and along the way uncovered six major pillars and 12 macro-trends that are changing the landscape of tomorrow. Here’s Liron now.
[01:11] Liron Reznik: I think each generation probably believes they live in the most interesting times, or the things that are happening to them are the most important or fundamental. I do think, if nothing else, we’re living in a bit of a change tsunami, you know? There’s so much changing so fast–obviously, the pandemic is an accelerator, but, you know, even other social, economical, political waves that we’re seeing, it just makes our time really interesting.
[01:35] Liron Reznik: My name is Liron Reznik, I’m an Executive Strategy Director, Head of Consumer Strategy and Head of Brand Strategy at frog based in New York City.
[01:45] Liron Reznik: In my role, I focus on bringing together the combined power of strategy and creativity to fuel progressive outcomes that drive growth. I’m very eager to create the new. I like to live in future tense, and help our clients do the same. In Steve Jobs’s words help our clients “see around the corner.”
[02:05] Elizabeth Wood: Trying to see around these proverbial corners–often of structures that might not even exist yet–can be overwhelming. But Liron and team had a good head start, informed by the work they do with clients everyday.
[02:17] Liron Reznik: Change will happen. Things are always going to evolve. The future will come and it will bring change, but we get to choose how to respond. And I think that’s what this report tries to posit. I don’t think we’re trying to predict the future. That’s a fool’s errand, I think. But we are, I think, trying to look and just have some observation of what are some of the things that are potential opportunity creators? So with that optimistic lens, what could actually lead us to do things that are value add that are interesting.
[02:47] Liron Reznik: I think just in general of what we do every day at frog and the experiences we design or the problems we try and help solve for our clients, I think it’s kind of imperative to be a little bit optimistic. Otherwise, it’s very difficult, I think, to come up with solutions that would work well. And I think, the Futurescape as you read it, and as you go through it, hopefully gives you a little bit of hope that we can change the world in big and small ways.
[03:10] Elizabeth Wood: As Liron says, this report is not about predicting the future, but it is shining a spotlight on the movements that are most positioned to have an impact.
[03:20] Liron Reznik: The Futurescape focuses on the high momentum shifts that we are seeing that are shaping the world around us. In the report, we review the macro forces that are shaping the context in which our clients’ businesses operate in, the world us as consumers are living in–the starting point of opportunity spaces for businesses across categories.
[03:41] Liron Reznik: In other words, I guess it’s for leaders that are looking at adapting their business practices overall to some of these new market landscapes or new market conditions that are emerging. And when you think of established companies out there, it’s a great way for them to become aware of the things that matter most as they look to stay ahead of the curve in their particular industries. And maybe it’s just for anyone that’s really curious: curious about where things are going–what kind of winds of change are out there? Where are they going to take us as people? As consumers? As part of companies? What are these new forces that in a way are shaping us all and our sort of realities today and tomorrow?
[04:20] Elizabeth Wood: Of course, answering these questions–and indeed knowing which questions are most important to ask–required research.
[04:27] Liron Reznik: So the Futurescape report is very much fueled by a research scan that we did as a team here. We assembled a team of trend spotters, researchers, strategists, innovators. We did a couple of things to kind of get us going. One is we built on research that we do every day across sectors in our team. So this sort of idea of looking at macro forces, doing trend analysis, of having primary consumer interactions, those are things that are happening here obviously every day at frog. So we weren’t starting from scratch.
[05:00] Liron Reznik: We also scanned where the money is going. Where are the investments? What do they represent? That was another piece of this. We were looking at some of the areas that we felt have commercial buzz around them. And obviously, since this report is very much focused on consumer macro trends, we kind of connected the dots between some of that activity and what does it mean? Or, what spurred it from a consumer perspective?
[05:24] Liron Reznik: The macro trends we’re discussing, I think they’re all supported with data. When we do our research, we look pretty wide. And we look at publications, sites, etc, that cover culture, that cover new ways of expression–and not just the mainstream media titans. We try to augment that and we try to have a wide view, a cross-category view. So that I think gives us the richness I think of understanding. And that’s how this tapestry that ends up being the Futurescape gets created.
[05:56] Elizabeth Wood: Eventually, the team arrived at six pillars shaping the Futurescape, and 12 macro-trends that reach across all sectors–fueled by emerging tech, shifting consumer demands and disruptive new modes of working.
[06:10] Liron Reznik: When we were sort of starting to put this together, we kind of looked for areas that later became the pillars of the report. Areas that are high in importance, both in terms of the fact that they are disrupted in a significant way. So there’s something to talk about, but also in terms of the fundamental impact they would have on consumers, on our culture at large, on the spending habits that people will have. And obviously that becomes an opportunity from a business perspective.
[06:38] Liron Reznik: In this report, we identify and we define six key pillars: Organization, Identity, Influence, Connection, Fulfillment and Home. And we organize the information under the six pillars and talk about what we’re seeing, and the new opportunities, the new movements that we’re seeing within those particular pillars. Within each of these six pillars, we have also two powerful tailwinds, what we call macro trends or macro forces–the type of things that really kind of are the meat and potatoes of this report.
[07:14] Liron Reznik: I think if you work in a B2C company or you work in a B2B type of company or industry, you should find something interesting in these pillars no matter what.
[07:23] Elizabeth Wood: The first of the six pillars identified in frog’s Futurescape report is ‘Organization.’
[07:27] Liron Reznik: The organization pillar, when we look at that particular pillar, we see a shift from what we label “central command” to “decentralized everything.” And that pillar is focused around looking at the structure underlying tomorrow’s world. And we see one there that’s built with decentralization at its core.
[07:46] Liron Reznik: Within the organization pillar, there are two macro trends that we’re covering, one we label ‘Hive Mind’ and another we label ‘Fishbowl Brands.’
[07:57] Liron Reznik: Hive Mind is about the fact that brands and consumers are creating a new relationship that’s much more collaborative, much more around co-creation. So brands and consumers are starting to make decisions together. And we kind of thought about it as this synchronized buzzing hive, but without a queen bee where the organization or the brand used to be that queen bee.
[08:23] Liron Reznik: So if you think about the boom of the creator economy that we’re seeing, the increasingly popular digital assets and devices, NFTs, we had to say NFT’s in a Futurescape report podcast, right? Consumers are much more involved in sort of shaping the future together with the brand owners–that sort of hive mind mentality.
[08:40] Liron Reznik: There’s some really interesting stats in the report. We talk obviously about the rise of Web3, the metaverse, DAOs (decentralized autonomous organizations), that is obviously something that’s highly in the news. We also have some interesting statistics that are sort of eye openers. One that comes to mind is that 88% of brands agree that collaborating with consumers drives revenue, and 81% of consumers said brands who collaborate are more authentic. So we’re seeing that dynamic from both sides of the aisle, if you will.
[09:12] Liron Reznik: We also have another macro trend we call ‘Fishbowl Brands.’ And that particular macro trend is about the movement towards 360-degree data sharing for greater understanding, greater consumer empowerment, and this notion we labeled ‘radical transparency.’
[09:27] Liron Reznik: And the fact that when we look ahead, transparency really means no surprises, people want to have that sort of 24/7 access to tools that give them and provide them on demand information about the products and services that they use. They want to be able to monitor, manage, predict their experiences. So we’re seeing that shift of, of power and control that’s driven by transparency to the consumer side here, and brands becoming a little bit like ones operating in a fishbowl–we can see through them.
Download the frog Futurescape report.
[09:57] Elizabeth Wood: Pillar 2 is ‘Identity.’
[09:58] Liron Reznik: Our second pillar is identity. The identity pillar is focused on the shift that we’re seeing from what we call a rigid frame to a multi dimensional canvas. And within the identity pillar, we have two macrotrends. We labeled them ‘Malleable Masculinity’ and ‘Extended Identity.’
[10:18] Liron Reznik: I’ll start with Malleable Masculinity. There’s this sort of critical examination in a way of masculinity that’s no longer just reserved for the avant garde kind of members of society, it’s much more common today. It’s having a big moment and we’re seeing it across the board. As a result, we see that the boundaries between traditional masculinity and femininity are blurring. And we see genderless expressions on the rise or as Joseph Altuzarra, the designer, will call it gender-full expressions that are on the rise.
[10:50] Liron Reznik: Masculinity is no longer as constrained, as prescriptive as it used to be traditionally. There’s much more richness. There’s much more depth to it today. Inclusive design, which I think really resonates in the market and inclusive design is something we in general think a lot about at frog, both from a gender perspective as well as other perspectives.
[11:11] Liron Reznik: The second macro trend within this pillar is extended identity. And this one is interesting, it leads us towards what we call virtual life. So identity no longer being confined to physical appearances, or just the real world relationships we have, but very much formed within immersive digital worlds and experiences that give us as people the freedom to construct identities that are in some ways entirely separate from our real life ones. Some interesting data that the report features is that 33 33% of Gen Z believe their online identity is their most authentic self, which I thought was really, really fascinating. And 55% of Gen Z believed that the internet is a more creative space than anything that they experience in real life. So there’s an open canvas, and it’s a wider canvas. And if you’re in strategy and innovation, those are the things you want to hear. It gives you so much freedom to create the next.
[12:02] Elizabeth Wood: The third pillar is ‘Influence.’
[12:03] Liron Reznik: The influence pillar is characterized by a shift we’re seeing from what we call “uniform and airbrushed” to “unscripted and vulnerable.” We have two macro trends in the influence pillar, we call them ‘Soft Power Moves.’ And the second one is called the ‘Post-Aspirational Standard.’
[12:23] Liron Reznik: When it comes to the macro trend of ‘Soft Power Moves,’ we’re seeing, in a way, a more interesting view of globalization. The term ‘globalization’ has been around for a long time, it was coined in 1983. Yet, we’re just I think, beginning to see what a true global melting pot is actually going to look like. Over the past few years, we’ve seen global forces and culture really gain prominence. If we take South Korea as an example of a country that’s punching above their weight, if you will, culturally, their government has really doubled down in this area of ‘soft power’ or ‘cultural power.’ The investment over the past few years has been really helping it gain prominence, a big part of the South Korean economy.
[13:05] Liron Reznik: We also see new channels that are really changing the game in favor over more global mass culture. Obviously, TikTok is one of those platforms–not an American owned platform, of course. As well as Spotify coming from Sweden: both big culture makers–culture making machines–that spread the songs, the foods, the dances and some of the social movements around the world faster than ever before.
[13:30] Liron Reznik: Nothing is foreign and nothing is quote unquote, weak. Everything is sort of fair game, I think. And I think there’s just a much more in some way compassionate reality coming as a result of that.
[13:43] Liron Reznik: So that was our first macro trend in Influence. And the second one is the ‘Post-Aspirational Standard.’ Today we’re seeing imperfection as the new authenticity, and sort of a post-aspirational consumer emerging that no longer flocks to just traditional luxury staples. They’re looking for ones that reflect a more authentic reality. Moving from a culture, I think, that just glorifies the sort of notion of thriving, and kind of pushing and hustling ahead, into a place where it’s okay not to always be okay. It’s okay not to always be perfect. I think it relates to another big trend of the mainstreaming of mental health conversations and discussions.
[14:23] Elizabeth Wood: Pillar 4: ‘Connection’
[14:24] Liron Reznik: So our fourth pillar is connection. And it’s pretty much focused on the shift we’re seeing from what we call “relationship points” to “relationships with purpose.” So, going from a world of connections displayed with points and likes–like a scoreboard mentality–and seeing that being replaced by hand-picked human interactions that are more meaningful for folks. And there’s two particular trends within this connection pillar that we cover in the Futurescape report. We labeled them ‘Slow Ships’ and ‘Atomization of community.’
[14:59] Liron Reznik: The first one, ‘Slow Ships,’ is about what we’re seeing as a result of digital interactions becoming truly ubiquitous. And because of the fact that there’s so much more, especially post-pandemic, digital interaction in our lives, what we’ve seen that produce is actually a consumer desire for some limitations on that. We’re seeing some focus on the type of physical constraints in a way of Time and Place coming back and in demand from people. So going from a past perspective, that sort of said that the more followers, connections, etc., that you have the merrier, to a world where there’s more intentional perspective about this whole thing. A desire for more reciprocity in terms of relationships, looking for something that’s a little bit more fulfilling. And it’s kind of interesting, because it impacts the way products and services and experiences are designed.
[15:54] Liron Reznik: One particular example we cover in the report is a dating app called Thursday, like the day of the week. And it’s an app that sort of tries to sort of combat some of the dating app fatigue, and kind of create more successful connections between people by condensing the dating experience into this one day marathon of matching, of chatting, of meeting and pairing it with real-life events. It’s really interesting how we went through so much in the dating scene to get to this, where we’re just trying to, in a way, emulate a day in a life–real life. And where we see the focus is now regarding these what we call ‘Slow Ships,’ these relationships that introduce some of the limitations of real life back in.
[16:54] Liron Reznik: The second trend within the connection pillar is the ‘Atomization of Community.’ There we’re seeing individuals moving beyond identification with these broad communities, and moving more in favor of associating themselves with “smaller squads,” as we call it, ‘micro communities.’ And in a way, you know, these micro communities become really important for companies or brands to pay attention to. So moving from a past perspective where companies would do audience targeting or target audience development work and look at demographics as the lead way of thinking about it, to not just move into the psychographics but what we call in the report “New Age psychographics” to create sort of a better connection with multiple communities and smaller communities that that these micro communities we discuss. So looking at creating almost what we call micro virality–trying to create, you know, take a particular company, a particular brand, and have enough flexibility and complexity built into it, so that micro communities of all kinds can connect to it.
[17:44] Elizabeth Wood: Pillar 5 is called ‘Fulfillment.’
[17:56] Liron Reznik: We see a shift from a focus on climbing the ladder to this focus on nurturing the soul. And anticipating how workers will be a lot more intentional in how they view work–setting boundaries, prioritizing wellness, making time to grow their side hustles, which is a big thing. And just spending time with those that matter, you know, family, investing in relationships. And we obviously believe there’s no one-size-fits-all guidebook for life for everyone. But we do see a sort of shift toward this area of nurturing yourself, your soul, more than just the singular focus in a way on work as a way of fulfilling.
[18:26] Liron Reznik: So the first trend in this pillar, the ‘Great Rebalancing,’ obviously will pretty much be familiar, I think, to all of us that have gone through the pandemic and seen how there’s really been a focus to set some boundaries between work and personal lives, to invest more in relationship, wellness and travel. And also kind of pushing a burden on companies to meet workers where they are with these new needs and expectations, with increased flexibility, better working conditions. We’re not talking about ping pong tables or foosball, but other things that really matter today in order to retain talent.
[19:00] Liron Reznik: So, moving from this kind of perspective of the relentless grind, this sort of first one and last one out mentality to a world where people are basically saying, don’t push my boundaries. workers don’t just want a bandaid for burnout.They’re asking more from their employers in terms of wellness policies. We’ve seen the rise of holistic medical plans to cover mental health, more vacation days, more flexibility in location. All of that has seen sort of a true rise over time. You know, one interesting, obviously, example of the impact of that is the incredible rise of the corporate wellness market. It’s projected to be 97 billion by 2027. It’s growing at a CAGR of 6.n% annually. So, you know, we know Headspace, we know Calm. You know, mindfulness became the new power move and people’s demand for it has really impacted corporations. So we’re seeing things that once we’re just in the, I will call it the “personal space,” entering the professional space and kind of creating this great rebalancing that we detail in the report.
[20:03] Liron Reznik: The second trend within this pillar is the ‘Agency Economy.’ And there we’re seeing the fact that people are spending less time on commutes, on social outings–looking for greater financial flexibility at the same time from their side hustles etc. We’re seeing also a lot of people leave their pre-pandemic jobs, we’ve seen that over the last year or two. And there’s in general sort of a focus on pursuing passions full time rather than sort of climbing the corporate ladder and reclaiming agency over our lives in a way.
[20:34] Liron Reznik: So in this new era of work, promotions are going to be assessed also, in terms of time and interest, not only monetary compensation. Maybe some would say this has always been true, but I think it’s just become even more true now. So kind of going from a working nine-to-five, as the song says, “It’s all taking and no giving” mentality, to working nine-to-five with a passion and a vision kind of driving you. And being the force that determines what you focus on. And it’s sort of interesting now that some of the more dynamic parts of the economy and culture are driven by this particular dynamic and trend of the agency economy.
[21:11] Liron Reznik: One that I like to think about is gaming. Gaming has become so important in terms of maybe the most important form of entertainment for young people today, and gaming mechanics and behaviors sort of translating to other areas in real life as well. But we’ve also seen this rise of ‘pay-to-earn’ gaming, which we’ll talk about in the reports, and how actually, that has now become another another way to fulfill a passion and to make a buck at the same time. We’ve also seen TikTok Shopping as an example, allowing creators to promote and sell products through partnership with Shopify. So all of these different ways to actually take agency and follow your passion and your vision and be able to actually use that to sustain yourself in all ways. So that’s the ‘Agency Economy.’
[21:55] Elizabeth Wood: The sixth and final pillar is all about ‘Home.’
[22:00] Liron Reznik: So our sixth pillar is the Home pillar. We have two trends here, ‘Alexa, Save the Planet’ is the first one and ‘Ambient Climate Behaviors’ is the second. And this pillar, the home pillar focuses on the shift from this all or nothing eco warrior stance that we used to see more to a world of casual climate routinists. The fight against climate change will shift in a way from something for radicals to something that’s very much a routine for all of us, becoming increasingly ingrained in the fabric of daily life.
[22:31] Liron Reznik: So the first trend here, ‘Alexa, Save the Planet,’ is about how brands are realizing that things like carbon offset payments, mission statements, and PR campaigns about them taking a stand on climate actions are great, but they’re insufficient to meet the challenge ahead. And instead, they’re beginning to incorporate sustainability measures directly into their business strategy, their products, and they provide consumers with effortless climate-active features and services. I think consumers are going to look to brands to make it easy, basically, for them to make positive choices.
[23:06] Liron Reznik: So moving again, from a past where, in a way, brands took a billboard stance on climate, they sort of focused on messaging or focused on sustainability reports or what have you, and now very much moving the focus and maturing in a way the focus to expand and create product and service climate menus, as we call it. So instead of just signaling climate efforts, trying to become climate ambient, sort of gently incorporating sustainability across the business in order to meet consumers’ expectations for products or services that help them feel responsible, help them feel they are playing a part in fighting climate change without changing some of their beloved routines. And we love this sort of title of ‘Alexa, Save the Planet’–it should be as easy as that–as us just saying and it will be so. Let’s hope so.
[24:00] Liron Reznik: The second trend here is ‘Ambient Climate Behaviors.’ And this sort of moving from climate activism as counterculture, as something that really isn’t in the mainstream, but is very much, you know, the purview of those that are fighting the mainstream, to it becoming today and into the future more quiet and commonplace in a way, Consumers sort of not getting a gold star for recycling or carpooling, or picking trash off the beach, but kind of just making this part of your day-to-day behavior more so. So very much connected also to the prior trend.
[24:30] Liron Reznik: Some interesting details in the report in relation to this one, the resale market growth. You know, you can think of a brand in fashion, for instance, like Depop, and how they have become a juggernaut, especially with the younger generations. Sixty percent of millennials we report in the Futurescape buy from companies that are conscious of protecting the environment and favor items with eco friendly packaging. Maybe not a surprising stat, but what what is, I think, interesting for us to think about is is how, as companies as businesses that create new things, whether it’s products, services, experiences, business models, how are we able to make sure that the climate fight is just a core part of it without just having it as a badge? How does it in a way become ambient? And that’s something I think that more and more companies are doing and more and more consumers are expecting. And if we’re optimistic I think we can say that business can really have a positive role in terms of just the future we have and how we are actually able to sustain the things we love and the routines we have today into the future.
[25:35] Elizabeth Wood: There’s a lot more to dig into in the Futurescape report, including analogs from businesses that are already leading the way and the design provocations these movements are inspiring.
[25:40] Liron Reznik: The team that worked on this report, they were amazing. They uncovered, they developed the imagined. They did all of the things that we do when we’re at our best. And I think, I hope that when people engage with the report and read through it, review it, they’ll see the passion that they brought into it.
[26:00] Liron Reznik: A couple of good reasons to download the Futurescape report is number one, I think it helps you be aware of some of the forces that matter most and awareness is the first step towards any meaningful human action. So, I think it raises awareness of important dynamics.
[26:20] Liron Reznik: I think, number two, it inspires–I hope (laughs). We would have some thought-provoking questions, examples, opportunities in terms of how you might act accordingly in your business, in your industry, in your category.
[26:34] Liron Reznik: And number three, I think relating again to some of those examples, facts, stats that are in the report. Those are great, I think ammunition to convince your colleagues to pay attention or maybe they connect to something you’ve been thinking in your business about an initiative, let’s say, that you want to push forward, maybe in this report, you’ll find some some of the things that will help you from an evidence perspective, push that particular initiative forward. And that would be an amazing thing. I think for us if that happens–this inspires people in a variety of companies, brands, businesses to sort of write the future, if you will, and in their way, as a result. Hopefully, that happens, we’ll see as the future unfolds.
[27:14] Elizabeth Wood: That’s our show. The Design Mind frogcast was brought to you by frog, a leading global creative consultancy that is part of Capgemini Invent. Check today’s show notes for transcripts and more from our conversation. We really want to thank Liron Reznik, Executive Strategy Director, Head of Brand Strategy and Consumer Strategy at frog for joining us today, and for all of the authors of the Futurescape report, for sharing with us their vision of the forces at work shaping tomorrow.
[27:42] Elizabeth Wood: We also want to thank you, dear listener. If you like what you heard, tell your friends. Rate and review to help others find us on Apple Podcasts and Spotify . And be sure to follow us wherever you listen to podcasts. Find lots more to think about from our global frog team at frog.co/designmind. That’s frog.co. Follow frog on Twitter at @frogdesign and @frog_design on Instagram. And if you have any thoughts about the show, we’d love to hear from you. Reach out at frog.co/contact. Thanks for listening. Now go make your mark.
frog ‘Futurescape’ Report Authors
Liron Reznik, Executive Strategy Director, Head of Consumer Strategy & Head of Brand Strategy
Courtney Pace, Head of Strategy, North America & China; Head of Private Equity
Samar Ahsan, Strategy Analyst
Kala Berg, Strategist, Commercial Strategy
Makena Naegele, Strategy Analyst
Isabel Sanoja, Strategist, Consumer Strategy
Guillermo Solorzano, Senior Strategist, Commercial Strategy