How do you get up to speed with The Great Acceleration?

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category - society
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sector - media & technology
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Rachele Simms, head of strategy at The Future Laboratory, unpacks the key strategic take-outs from our recent macrotrends

Over the past 12 months, the world has experienced unprecedented turbulence, with the macro-environment irreversibly transformed. As we navigate through the inter-Covid period, three clear areas are emerging as key points of focus for brands and businesses: de-growth, decentralisation and empowered community autonomy. 

At our recent Trend Briefing 2021, The Future Laboratory’s Strategic Foresight team presented three new sociocultural macrotrends that captured this optimism of tomorrow, under the collective banner of The Great Acceleration. Many of our clients have since been in touch to ask how they can get up to speed with this rapid pace of change and embrace the New Extra-ordinary. Here are some of the key implications that we feel all businesses urgently need to act on.

Place is among the many social factors that affect and contribute to our health and wellbeing, both collectively and individually. The pandemic led to an urban exodus to the countryside with remote working branded a privilege of the middle class, as rising urban inequality was revealed.

Equilibrium Cities – the physical urban utopias that will dominate the 21st-century landscape – will demand that businesses elevate nature’s status and society’s wellbeing, rather than hold commerce and consumerism as their anchoring priorities. Moving past gentrification as a form of development, a new urban core will place intersectionality and biodiversity first and focus on cultural gain, not displacement.

It has been said that we saw five years of digital progress in the first five months of the pandemic – and now digital is being reframed as a facilitator, rather than the enemy, of our wellbeing. With people currently unable to access much of our fragile physical world, digital anxiety is rapidly being replaced by digital reliance among consumers, and technology viewed as a utility rather than a novelty. Ensuring that media doesn’t become just another mode of consumption, a cultural and economic shift is taking shape towards a people-centred internet – Alternet Economies powered and owned by communities and creators as brands make the transition from investor ownership to user ownership.

And finally, many consumers have been liberated from the ties of legacy businesses by the Covid-19 pandemic. People will continue to demand deeper engagement with the inner workings of the businesses they buy into, as we witness a resurgence and refocusing around what people truly value when consuming. In response, Elastic Brands are emerging led by a new breed of principled CEOs and restructured marketing departments who are ready to invest in their ability to adapt at will. Rather than being fixed, top-down and singular, we’re now looking at a sustainable blueprint for brands that is flexible collaborative and multi-faceted.

Published by:

30 March 2021

Author: Rachele Simms

Image: Research for the Nike Movement Lab by 2050+


Respawning Li Ning Into God Mode by TRAUM INC, London

Key themes of The Great Acceleration to embrace are:

  • User ownership: Empower participation, as people-first initiatives will lead to a more equitable future
  • Decentralisation: Embed hyper-localised strategies. Brands need to co-create with – not dictate to – consumers
  • De-growth: Acknowledge the sustainability imperative and promote clean capitalism. Reframe what it means to scale
  • Cultural gain: Reposition who the stakeholders are in a city. Reject old symbols of urban progress and replace them with action
  • Agility and innovation: See the end as something other than failure. Know when to stop or evolve
  • Collaboration: Reward partnership over competition by re-evaluating and repurposing resources

Our team of strategists have developed a wide-ranging set of strategic decision-making tools to help provide future-first solutions for our clients. If you would like to know more, or have any questions about embedding our macrotrends into your business, drop us a message at We look forward to accelerating into the future with you.

‘As we navigate through the inter-Covid period, three clear areas are emerging as key points of focus for brands and businesses: de-growth, decentralisation and empowered community autonomy.’
Rachele Simms, head of strategy, The Future Laboratory

Want to learn more about how you can apply these trends to your business?

Strategic foresight is the most valuable tool you can adopt to identify and chart a course for future growth and long-term prosperity. Our strategic services employ this future-first approach.

Members of LS:N Global can read more about the strategic implications of each macrotrend as well as new downloadable strategic worksheets.

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