18 Trends to Transform 2018

Every January I look at the key trends likely to impact business in the UK and Europe over the next 12 months. They cover a range of industries. Some focus more on work, others on leisure. Some will be brand new, others will be the mainstreaming of an emerging trend. Either way, together they’ll transform the business environment. And will offer growth opportunities for curious and ambitious companies across sectors.


Trend 1. All in the Mind

The last few years have seen us focus on our bodies: from running clubs to healthy diets. But we’re starting to realise that a great body won’t make us happy unless it’s accompanied by a healthy mind and spirit. High profile figures like Prince Harry and Rio Ferdinand have increased awareness of mental health. Expect much more focus on the head and heart in 2018: from happiness at work and emotion-monitoring wearables to mind gyms and mood-lifting foods.

Trend 2. Special-tea

Our need to customise and personalise our beverages will extend from coffee to tea in 2018. We’ll see growth in ales of cacao tea, dessert-flavoured tea, stone rolled tea and medicinal tea for boosting our brain power will all grow. Some are even tipping ‘cheese tea’: tea with a cheese fondue topping … Look out for more speciality tea bars like Manchester’s Cha-ology too.

Trend 3. Agile Working

The next five years will see the workplace experience its biggest disruption in decades. Changes in employee attitudes, behaviours and technology – along with new ways of doing business –  are driving employers to rethink centuries-old methodologies. This year will see more companies investigating Agile Working: flatter, team-based hierarchical structures, results-led reward systems and flexible environments that better cater to work/life balance.

 Trend 4. Greener Fingers

Instagram’s a great way to discover tomorrow’s Youth trends. Foodies, pet lovers or Millennial Pink all started there. Now the site’s full of images of plants: 15 million of them: sprouting succulents to #boyswithplants (photos of hot guys standing next to, erm, plants). Housing issues mean outdoor gardens may be out of reach for many. But hydroponic tech – like Ikea’s new indoor cultivators and self-watering planters – will enable more indoor gardening: a market’s that’s grown 8% since 2010.

 Trend 5. In A Pickle

Looking for ‘the new baking?’ How about pickling. It’s easy, it’s fun and anyone can do it. Once you’ve pickled your pears or fermented your figs, you can give them as gifts, or upload photos of them to social media sites. Pickling’s also good for our gut: something we’re starting to care more about. Specialist pickle restaurants like Salt & Pickle are opening, with other restaurants offering fermentation classes. On a similar tip, look out for more home curing and smoking too.

Trend 6. You-Topia

Our recent fascination with all things post-apocalyptic isn’t just about scares and action: much of it’s about people trying to rebuild society the way it should be. And it’s no longer confined to our screens. In a world many think has lost its way, 2018 will see entrepreneurs, architects, politicians and citizens getting more excited by Utopian ideals and new ways of living: from self-policing websites and local independence movements to Community Gardening and cool co-living spaces like The Collective. Part of a macro trend for ‘big ideas’: from Stocisim in Silicon Valley to agnostic churches like London’s Sunday Assembly.

 Trend 7. Radio Revival

Commentators are rightly excited about the growing power of video, but audio’s been seeing a comeback over the last 12 months. Why? It’s great to multi-task to – try watching a video while cycling or baking! – and there’s something intimate and comforting about a voice whispering in your ear. With podcasters set to be the new vloggers, in 2018 might radio kill the video star?

 Trend 8. Weaving a Spell

The runways of London and Paris have seen a trend for woven bags: a trend that’s likely to continue, given its artisanal and environmental credibility. But it’s also indicative of another trend set to go mainstream in 2018: weaving. Look out for a host of handmade wall hangings, macrame cushions and tapestries in the next twelve months.

Trend 9. Sleep Well

A mix of anxiety and technology over-use means Britons aren’t getting enough sleep: and we’re starting to notice. Look out for a big rise in sleep advice – from vloggers to hotel sleep concierges – and food and other products that help us hit the hay. With time at a premium, we’ll also want to use our sleeping hours to recharge our nutrients, via products like Gatorade’s new night-time yoghurt. Other sleep related pastimes like dream books and lucid dreaming could be big too.

 Trend 10. Hobby Horsing

Remember that wooden hobby horse you played on as a child? Get it back out of the loft, because this year’s Scandinavian import is … competitive hobby horse riding. Yes, girls in Finland, the US and even parts of the UK are doing dressage and show-jumping on wooden horses to win trophies – and Internet fame.

 Trend 11. Sober Socialising

Young people are supposed to be wild and carefree, but today’s not so much. Anxious about everything from job prospects to climate change, they’re worrying more and drinking less, with a 40% rise in teetotalism among Britain’s 16-24s in the last five years. 2018 will see increasing numbers visit alcohol-free clubs like Bender and Shine, and mocktail bars like Redemption; knock back alcohol-free spirits like Seedlip; and go on Juice Crawls (the juice bar equivalent of a pub crawl).

 Trend 12. So Long Sausages?

The recent ‘clean eating’ trend means we’re looking more carefully at what’s in our food. The next step? Worrying about how our food is made. Following reports of health risks around overly processed food, we might soon be shunning much-loved favourites like pork pies and bacon. Indeed, one major German sausage manufacturer recently expressed his fear that sausages might become ‘the cigarettes of the future’.

Trend 13. Release the Pressure

With so much stress and anxiety around these days, more of us will seek out ways to ‘chillax’ in 2018. If spas and ‘sound baths’ are too mellow, how about smashing up rooms full of scrap metal in Newcastle’s Scrap Club? Or axe throwing – like shooting or archery, but with axes – in Stumpy’s Hatchet House. Or just releasing your inner child in the growing number of indoor playgrounds, ball pits and trampoline dens that cater to kids in the day – and adults at night.

Trend 14. Pick up some P-p-plastic

Sir David Attenborough’s ‘Blue Planet 2’ show on ocean waste struck a nerve. More of us are starting to worry about the impact plastics are having on our oceans. Expect more attempts by public and companies alike to reduce the amount of plastic we use – and waste.

Trend 15. Hot Wheels

Love cycling but find it a bit tiring? Get yourself an e-bike. That’s a standard bicycle with an electric motor attached, meaning you can zoom up hills and pedal down. Big on the Continent, they’re getting bigger over here. Last year, more than one in ten cycles sold in the UK was an e-bike.

 Trend 16. Mindful Eating

Mindfulness was one of the big trends of the last five years and 2018 will see it extend to our stomachs. Mindful eating – eating without distractions – is much better for our health than the eating-while-watching-TV-and-scanning-Facebook so many of us do now. Experts believe it’s also a great way to lose weight. Some even say Scandinavian mindful eating trend Fika – taking time out from work mid-morning to sit down with coffee and a pastry – might be the new Hygge.

Trend 17. Watch the Birdie

As part of our renewed love for nature, we’re showing more interest in our feathered friends. Almost as many of us bought bird feeders as patio furniture last year. And one in five us would like to join enthusiasts Damian Albarn, Bill Bailey and Alex Zane in a spot of birdwatching. You don’t even need to venture into the country now: more and more hipsters are going ‘urban birding’.  And LA’s Ace Hotel now holds regular ‘Birds and Booze’ birdwatching events on its rooftop.

Trend 18. Platform Pragnostic

It’s taken a few years of competition and confusion, but the core media and purchase platforms set to dominate our lives for the next few years finally seem to have bedded in. So, now we have at least a semblance of the New Normal Media, the next steps are to choose our favourites – and determine how to integrate and speedily navigate them. 2018 will see more of us set up rules to split behaviours across platforms, or hunt down apps that consolidate our messages into a single communications stream.


For more information or to book a trends presentation, speak to Nadia on 020 3542 1900 or info@next-big-thing.net

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