Digital Engagement: A Social Future

A Foresight Report for LUSH

sector - media & technology
type - case studies
Case Studies
LUSH commissioned The Future Laboratory to produce a new foresight report, exploring how tech can be built for the greater good and impact positive social change.

The fault lines between old and new-order thinking in digital spaces have become increasingly stark, with technological innovation promising a break from Big Tech’s dominance, welcoming a digital future that’s democratized, decentralized and transformational.

As societies and individuals, our reliance on technology has continued to intensify. Whether it’s for their health or happiness, work or wellbeing, people are now digitally dependent. But as the world-changing promise of existing digital platforms wanes, brands and consumers alike are re-assessing these reliant relationships. 

‘Digital culture is currently highly fragmented,’ says Mica Le John, educator, author and CEO of Idoru, a platform that aims to help people find their true-to-life style and identity in the metaverse. ‘Social media platforms, for instance, are having an identity crisis, each trying to be everything at once. And in the process, they’ve stopped fulfilling people’s real needs.’

With a belief that tech should give more than it takes, Lush commissioned The Future Laboratory to create this foresight report, exploring what ethical tech will look like over the next decade and beyond, investigating the rapidly shifting digital landscape, its impact on consumers and existing barriers to digital transformation. We present a new manifesto for digital engagement, which can enable ethical innovation to be unleashed, and uncover the new solutions and spaces future-facing organizations can build. 

Click below to discover the resulting 'Digital Engagement: A Social Future' report.


Commissioned by:

16 March 2023

Author: The Future Laboratory


: Foresight Overview

LUSH at SXSW 2023

Despite growing concern about the impact of existing digital culture, techno-optimism continues to shine through. Digital platforms still offer numerous benefits that consumers hold close, including connecting with others (33%) and finding like-minded individuals (29%). A majority (57%), meanwhile, say tech boosts their productivity, with 39% saying social media helps them express their identity.

‘We need to help elevate and develop the positive actions that are happening in this space,’ says Annabelle Baker, director at Lush. ‘There’s a different future out there, beyond the one we see now, where people can engage within safe environments on. We need to move the narrative from what we can’t do to what we can.’

This positivity is being further fueled by a rapidly developing technology landscape, with artificial intelligence (AI), the metaverse and Web3 – the next, decentralized iteration of the internet – promising a new way of doing things.

But figuring out how this future will unfold presents a mammoth task. ‘It’s difficult to understand what’s coming, with so much technological change on the horizon,’ says Mark Constantine, CEO of Lush.

‘We need to develop a greater understanding of what societies, the environment, economies and cultures will look like after a decade of exponential digital disruption.’ 

Mark Constantine, CEO, Lush 

: Digital Drivers 


Facing a series of once-in-a-generation challenges, the world has experienced more change in recent years than we’d expect across a whole decade. Cultural, economic, political and social priorities have all been transformed by the climate crisis, a global pandemic and geopolitical instability, among other factors – and now technology is entering the mix.

From the pitfalls of existing digital spaces to the world-changing potential of AI and the decentralized promise of Web3, transformation is under way. So what changes are these ongoing shifts powering, and how will they affect the future of digital engagement?

Here, we explore some of these drivers:

: Anti-social media 
Times are changing. Our research shows that over the past 12 months, people are spending less time on social media and in many ways, the social aspect of platforms has long been left behind.

: Too big tech 
Across the globe, Big Tech’s digital dominance is palpable. According to Harvard Business Review, more than 50% of global online ad spending goes through Meta or Alphabet.

: The Data Dichotomy 
As people spend more time in digital spaces than ever before – sharing data, spending money, working and divulging personal details – unsurprisingly, data privacy remains a major global consumer concern.

: An Exclusive Internet
Instead of universality, today’s dominant digital spaces provide anything but, with Berners-Lee’s vision undermined by digital exclusivity and a lack of online representation and accessibility.

: Next-gen Digital
The metaverse and artificial intelligence could transform society for good. But they will continue to widen inequality and fragment unless we develop more inclusive strategies.

: Alternet Rising
A digitally native generation are creating a wave of techno-optimism by embarking on an approach to social change through digital activism defined by collaboration and decentralization.

Discover our Anti-Provocation Platfroms microtrend, exploring how consumers burnt out on traditional social media spaces are being offered new platforms that build common good values into their functionality.

‘Most social media companies have failed at protecting users. You can’t just ‘set and forget’ these platforms. A greater, ongoing and iterative understanding of digital culture, general culture and people is needed to ensure spaces are safe and secure.’
Katie Hillier, Chief Digital Anthropologist, The LIIV Center

: Digital Engagement Futures

LUSH at SXSW 2023

Brands and businesses can harness the full potential of the revolutionary technological advances already making their mark on society.

Here, we outline how these opportunities could unfold, explore the new services and solutions they can inspire, and uncover what a future of ethical digital engagement will look like.

: Purposeful Platforms 

Consumers burnt out on traditional social media are being offered new platforms that build common good values into their functionality. By 2030, young tech enthusiasts will take community-centered and altruistic approaches to digital platforms even further. 

: The Metastore

With the evolution of the metaverse, XR and increased connectivity, in the next decade the future shopping experience will become a social network of immersive, interactive, connected and open-source stores. Welcome to the Metastore.

: Feedback Frontiers

In 2030, brands will harness the power of Web3 to forge new interactions with customers, creating a new era of co-creation, innovation and Direct-with-Consumer commerce. 

: Activist Incentives

By the end of the decade, a new data commerce market will enable consumers to control, broker and profit from their personal data, which brands will harness to incentivize community-minded behavior. 

: Responsive R&R

As our lives become more digitally dependent, brands are developing tailored solutions that enhance individual wellbeing and promote recuperative living, from bespoke products to responsive environments.

This is just a snapshot into the Digital Engagement: A Social Future report. Click below to download the full report PDF.

‘The phrase ‘tech for good’ doesn’t have to be meaningless. The people behind the building of our technologies are ultimately responsible for the ethical standards ingrained in those technologies.’
Jack Constantine, chief digital officer at Lush

Are you ready for what’s new and next?

To learn more from about the trends in The Future of Filmmaking report, download it here. 

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