Cultural literacy trends 2017

 |  By: Steve Johnson

Before you're overwhelmed with year-end Best Of 2016 and Eight Forecasts for 2017 postings, we thought we'd sneak in one of our favourites. It's the annual Cultural Literacy slideshow by New York agency sparks & honey.

They have assembled a list of no less than 100 'must-know' concepts and terms for next year. Think of it as a crib sheet for all those upcoming conversations with clients, where you suddenly wish you had a string of hot trends on the tip of your tongue to prove your credentials. Anyone in a marketing, design, digital or PR agency should surely keep the list handy.

To whet your appetite, here are some tasters:

  • The grip on added sugar is tightening. Sugar is fast becoming the acknowledged villain of a healthy lifestyle. Expect an acceleration of this consumer sentiment next year.

  • Audio UX. With voice-command services starting to gain traction, a generation of audio UX designers will be needed.

  • Background as foreground. In an age of distraction and overhype, brands and content creators are finding that giving keen fans a knowing wink is far more powerful than the direct approach. So the excitement is not about what's in the foreground but what's subtly in the background for eagle-eyes to spot.

  • Brand-built world. In a world of perpetually cash-strapped governments, brands are starting to step up to fill some gaps, from clearing litter to cleaning running paths to planting trees.

  • Crowdsourced science. You can't expect the lone scientific genius figure to discover everything. Sometimes it takes a hard and patient slog. Crowdsourcing is starting to make a real difference in science.

  • Digital sampling. Technology is radically changing some experiences. For example a cosmetics company now offers a lipstick app showing exactly how any one of 100 shades of lipstick will look on your face.

  • Dirt is good. Bacteria and soil used to be seen as the arch enemy of cleanliness and health. Now it's seen as a smart way to teach a young body to avoid future allergies. And probiotics are not simply eaten in yogurt but can cultivate good bacteria on the skin.

  • Doctor robot. For example an artificial intelligence system developed at Harvard analyses Instagram posts to diagnose depression, with a better accuracy rate than general practitioners.

  • The drone economy. Drones have moved past the cinematic and the toy stages and are now starting to help solve real business challenges, such as in farming.

  • Minimalism backlash. People have tried and failed to live in minimalist glossy-magazine spaces. This failure used to make them feel guilty. Not any more.

  • OS education. Savvy toddlers have started to react to magazine pages by trying to swipe them, so are baffled as to why the pictures don't move. Parents are starting to say Enough is Enough. A better technology balance in the home is starting to take effect.