16 March 2023
Author: The Future Laboratory
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.
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.
DISCOVER ANTI-PROVOCATION PLATFORMS
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.
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