The future can be difficult to predict – especially when you are planning for the future of your business. Also, it can be overwhelming trying to make sense of all the trend forecasts, predicting what the upcoming year will be for different sectors. Nevertheless, we feel more confident and optimistic about the future, after sitting down with Sébastien Van Laere, Founder of Superframe – an agency using insight and foresight to develop brand-, innovation- and business strategy for some of the biggest global brands. We discussed why thinking about the future is important in our lives, some of his favourite trends of 2021 and whether Clubhouse is a trend or just a fad.
Here are some of the best insights from our chat:
SV: From my point of view, I don’t think we ask ourselves that question enough. People intuitively understand that thinking about the future is a good thing because it makes you more prepared, but most don’t think further than that. There has been research proving that thinking about and engaging with the future more rigorously has tangible benefits to your business. For instance, Mckinsey & Company did a longitudinal study on businesses who operated based on a long-term view about the future, and had a big impact on the bottom line of the business. Also, this showed a significant increase in margins, revenues and generally outperformed competitors who didn’t engage with the future.
SV: I am extremely excited about health – particularly the physical health trend where people are investing more time in healthier food and the type of exercise they are doing, which is more of a preventative health where you look after yourself better. Also, this arguably could lead to more investment in mental health too. One really interesting addition that emerged last year was more conversations around sexual health, in the form of digital products like podcasts on the subject. Therefore, it is becoming less of a taboo subject which can only be a good thing.
SV: Identifying whether something is a trend or a fad when it first starts can be quite tricky. In regards to Clubhouse, I would say that audio content has definitely been gaining momentum for the past few years, particularly podcasts. Also, from the music world there have been different platforms emerging, where artists have more direct connections with people and not just on Spotify. In addition to that, with more people looking for more time away from screens, Clubhouse could become part of that trend. However, it is still difficult to say indefinitely because it is a social network, which has its own challenges such as dealing with hate speech and discrimination. Clubhouse’s success will then depend on how they will be able to manage the cultural discourse that goes with a social media platform.
SV: There is indeed a lot of bias – I would even build on that point and say that there are biases when we research about the future, not just in our predictions and when we are thinking about the future. Confirmation bias is a popular kind where we give more attention to and seek out information that validates our idea we have about the future. Then we usually ignore any other research that does not fit with our idea. For me, the best way to tackle any biases is to research and familiarize yourself with the types of biases that might occur.
SV: There’s one which has become a bit of a running joke now. The World Energy Association that the demand for solar energy is going to increase year on year. For more than 10 years now they have consistently got it wrong, even when they tried to correct these forecasts, they still got it wrong. Therefore, I think it is important not to just use forecasts to inform strategic decisions in your business, but also weigh up different pieces of intelligence you have researched.