Future Group has identified 10 memes or trends that will influence India and various business in 2018. The list is based on real time data gathered from more than 400 million Indian consumers and a study conducted by the Memetic Institute at Future Ideas which is a part of Future Group.
Future Ideas, which maps and details consumer behaviour based on demographics and geography among other parameters, uses visual ethnography to represent the insights.
Future Ideas’ ‘The Memes 2018’ covers 10 important areas that influence day to day life with topics like:
In urban India, the growth of nuclear families, single child households and the fact that women today are donning roles beyond child rearing has led to the emergence of parenting as a conscious activity that must be learnt and shared. With the absence of traditional models of support in the form of grandparents and joint families where multiple children grew up together and learnt from each other organically –new age parents are dependent on online communities, pediatricians, high-end nannies and counselors.
We also live in the age of what is popularly called ‘sharenting’ – where according to some studies more than 80 per cent of children are said to have an online presence by the age of two, where the average parent shares almost 1,500 images of their child online before their fifth birthday. Modern-day parenting as a meme is clearly highly popular, and will continue to remain so for years come.
The industrial age led to mega malls, shopping complexes, cult brands, celebrity endorsers, new rituals, festivals like Black Friday and much more. The information age ushered in online shopping portals and apps. While, the first wave of technology restricted itself only to visual delights on small screens, the next wave of consumption is about pervasive layering of technology over these temples of consumption. The customer will be connected real time with the store – at any time and from anywhere. And the store will transform into a junction of pleasing sensory excesses, an area of heightened experience that customises and adapts to the needs and aspirations of each and every customer. It will be personal, it will be intimate, it will delight shoppers with a thoughtful sensory overload.
Identity can be divided into two broad categories: “Achieved” identity derived from individual endeavours (education, work and so on), and “ascribed” identity that is derived from intrinsic characteristics (religion, ethnicity, gender etc). Today, however we lead multiple lives and avatars in a single lifespan. Gone are the days, when life-stage determined identities and roles for Indians. With technology and social media, we lead multiple lives both in the virtual and real worlds.
What we need to watch closely in 2018, will be how this meme of plural identities will influence and give birth to newer memes. Will plurality polarise, or will it showcase some new mainstream and new cult ideas.
The year 2018 marks the start of an era where those born in the 21st century will enter adulthood. Roughly, around 25 million Indians are born every year. There are already more than 400 million Indians who have been born in this century. Faster than we can imagine, 21st century natives will start to dominate workplaces, consumer trends, electoral politics and popular culture.
How this entirely 21st century born-and-bred generation negotiates the transition to adulthood, and how they redefine the meaning of adulthood is a highly consequential journey that will play out in the next couple of years. Keep an eye on 2018 as the year that India’s first generation to have been born in the 21st century entered the mainstream, using their energy and ambition to shape the future.
Over the last decade, China has pivoted from an economy driven by exports to an economy led by domestic consumption. After declining from the high of 55 per cent share of GDP in the 1970s, China’s consumption spending touched a low of 35 per cent in 2010. It has been steadily increasing since then and is expected to touch 44 per cent by 2020.
That the future of consumption lies in China is undisputed. India now at $1750 per capita consumption or Rs 4.5 lakh annual income per household is within a striking distance of the $2000 mark. The need of the hour now is for India to forge its own path and use its own ideas in driving a domestic consumption-led economy, instead of blindly aping the West.
With changing demographics, technological democratisation, rapid urbanisation and changing family structures, Indians of today are experiencing profound shifts in identity. From a society that valued collective identity to one that is learning to appreciate individual agency, new challenges are at our fore.
Singledom, individuality and the longevity have brought new consumption arenas to the economy. From single member households that have their own unique needs, to travel for the elderly, being alone is increasingly being cherished in today’s India.
The 21st century is witnessing a seismic shift as new technology is leading us to adopt new means of communication led by images – static as well as animated. Every second of every day, the Internet captures and transfers millions of images in the form of Giga Bytes through a variety of digital platforms.
In India, we have been busy looking at literacy data as a marker of human development. Knowing the script (language)has been seen as critical. Yet today technology is enabling even those without literacy or education to leapfrog this deficiency, if empowered with a voice and video activated smart phone. The visual language of emoticons, GIFs (graphic interchange formats), and hashtags is helping overcome literacy deficiencies, and has become and intuitive part of our life. Embedded in emojis and GIFs are a plethora of emotions, feelings and thoughts – making them a rich and extremely popular form of communication. GIFs have become the most popular way, at present, to liven up messages sent from smartphones or posted online, one that transcends barriers of spoken language and culture.
India’s billion plus people can broadly be defined by three segments. India-1, known as the more affluent consuming class, those with access to domestic help. This group consists of people who are most deeply embedded in the arena of consumption, with incomes that make them eminently bankable. India-2 can be referred to, respectfully, as the serving class, or those primarily involved in work that serves the needs of India-1. They form the backbone of Indian society, and tend to be the serving class that provides products and services to India-1. They make a living by addressing the needs of India-1 and work for them as domestic helpers, drivers, shop floor workers, couriers, odd job workers and so on. Meanwhile, India-3 are India’s most deprived, the struggling class - classified as those struggling to get two square meals per day.
As India- 2 enters the mainstream a fresh memetic wave of aspirations will be unleashed. The combination of affordable phones, low cost data plans, and intuitive apps that don't require the ability to read–has the potential to revolutionize the lives of India’s next billion (at present about 450 million of India’s 1.3 billion strong population has access to the Internet). By connecting millions of Indians – often uneducated and illiterate, and thus far off the radar – to the mainstream economy, new voices and demands will be added to India’s story, as new aspirations find utterance and traction.
In times past, where wars and conquests were fought on battlefields, leadership models were highly masculine in nature. Leaders distanced themselves from their people. One-way command-and-control communication was the norm. However, wars of a purely physical nature are today increasingly rare. Mediums of communication have fundamentally changed and most importantly, we are living in times defined by surplus. The role of leaders now is not to battle and survive, but to make impact, change and grow.
The new breeds of leaders across the globe are reflecting a new, more sensitive and nurturing ethos for our times. A new era of leadership is here. It suggests, perhaps, a shift away from the hyper-masculine template of the past, and ushers in a new narrative for leaders in the modern world.
A minute on the Internet today generates 3.5 million searches on Google, 1.8 million Snaps, 4.1 million Youtube video views and 156 million emails. Our need for dopamine highs has created a more than trillion-dollar economy.
However, much of technology in the past decade had focused on delivering these highs through our visual senses. The boredom and superficiality created by visual-based technologies tied to digital screens is already driving a counter-trend – one that has led to a surge of interest in ever more authentic, multi-sensorial experiences. Expect 2018 to see the market for experiences take off, and offer a rich alternative to the isolated dopamine seeking grind of digital media.
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