The global ‘movements’ to be aware of in 2018


From the weed economy, to the “wokeness’ of new entertainment models and advertisers; brands are scrambling to meet the demands of new movements sweeping the globe.

In his last global trends presentation for 2017, entitled Zeitgeist 2018 – From Woke to Wide Awake, trend analyst and guru, Dion Chang, looked at the mood of 2018 where business and culture intersects.

He and his team have tracked various global movements that will impact on business and society in 2018. When it’s more than a trend, it’s a movement.
This is what advertising agencies and anyone else tracking culture and the impact of global trends on their business, needs to keep top of mind in 2018:

Advertisers and film makers take note: the new wave of gender neutrality and political correctness is driven by the new, young generations who don’t discriminate against gender and believe the objectification of women has to stop. This is a culture shift and slowly advertisers are catching up, with the Cannes Lions advertising festival banning all advertising that objectifies women. This movement aims to sanitise those traditional gender stereo-types personified and encouraged by much advertising today. The gender debate has also gone a step further, with some brands producing gender neutral clothing for boys and girls, such as John Lewis which won’t include any binary labelling in children’s clothing; or the brands launching gender neutral underwear. Transgender models are appearing more and more on magazine covers and as brand spokespeople.


The focus has all been on millennials in the last decade (18-35 years), shifting to Generation Z (teenagers) in the last couple of years. But Chang says, where do you go after Generation Z? Make sure you start listening to the conversation emerging around Generation Alpha – our youngsters of 10 years and younger who are integrating devices into their lives. Chang says India and China will become the centre of gravity for Generation Alpha. Colleges in the United States are already preparing for Generation Alpha, hosting summer camps at Stanford University, for example, for children as young as six years to teach them coding. Advertising is already focusing on them with high-tech baby products and services. In Africa, we will have our “Generation Alpha moment’ towards mid-century when 2 billion babies will be born in Africa, says Chang.


The wellness industry is booming and there is a new model of retail in this space. “Bodyism’ is driving this trend says Chang: new spaces are being created that bring together food, fitness and wellness. “The aim is to change people’s lives. They offer what people need. Wellness is more than a trend, it is a movement, part of the fabric of people’s lives.’

There is also a new way of doing retail and looking at retail. Retail has become about creating experiences for consumers and letting them experience the products or services that they will then buy online. Amazon’s move into bricks and mortar bookshops and the built-in reading experience, is part of that.


Food also features in this underground movement, where you have pop-up restaurant kitchens in parking lots and random areas to distribute to customers. This is a dark kitchen: a kitchen set up in a parking lot with couriers waiting to deliver to customers. They are not designed for sit down meals. The same goes for quick fulfilment centres or warehouses to distribute from your “dark stores’.


The meat-free movement is spreading across the world and the number of people who define themselves as vegan is up by over 300 per cent. Alcohol brands are creating non-alcoholic drinks, which is spawning a wave of non-alcoholic cocktail bars. Pret a Manger now has green logo vegan options. One brand of almond milk saw its sales go up by 2300 per cent in two years.


The voice of the socio-political narrative is coming through into entertainment. Many movie roles are being flipped in remakes, with key roles in Ghostbusters, Oceans 11, Lord of the Flies and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, now featuring women. The reverse is also true, with talk of Channing Tatum being cast as a merman in a remake of Splash.


The grooming activist trend is being reflected across the board, says Chang, in pop-culture and marketing and branding. South Africa has the natural hair movement and this is being reflected in pop culture. Chang referenced singer Solange with her “don’t touch my hair’ lyrics and philosophy, and the Cape Town mother who created swimming caps to fit natural hair styles. In the United States, a brand called Hammer and Nails provides mani-cures and pedicures for men in a safe space. There is a return to barbers for men only.

Marijuana is being rebranded for the 21st century and an entire economy worth billions is being built around it by the “ganjapreneurs’ investing in weed couture – from coffee infused weed to an entire weed town experience in a prime-marijuana growing area in the United States. Even Netflix has introduced a range of products with variants for various movie genres.