5 Workplace Trends from Futurist Faith Popcorn

24 March 2017 Press 4008 Views

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When Faith Popcorn—noted futurist, best-selling author, and CEO of the future-focused strategic marketing consultancy BrainReserve—sat down with CNBC to discuss her latest batch of predictions, here are the key points she made: The workplace is going to be more competitive than ever, and we humans are going to adopt some innovative attitudes and new behaviors to survive and thrive.

Popcorn says that robots are going to take a seat at the conference room table in 2017. And to stay competitive with their new robot colleagues, workers are going to start taking smart drugs. She’s been right before: Since launching her business in 1974, she has helped Fortune 500 companies including MasterCard, Coca-Cola, P&G and IBM. Here are five trends you can expect to see in the workplace in 2017, according to Popcorn.

  1. Employees are going to start taking a burgeoning class of cognitive enhancers called nootropics, or "smart drugs." These nutritional supplements contain a variety of compounds that reportedly increase physical and mental stamina. Silicon Valley has been an early adopter of the bio-hacking trend.

  2. Unskilled blue-collar workers will be the first to lose their jobs to automation, but robots will eventually replace white-collar workers, too, says Popcorn, pointing to an Oxford University study that found 47 percent of U.S. jobs are at risk of being replaced. "Who would you rather have do your research? A cognitive computer or a human?" says Popcorn. "Human error is a disaster. ... Robots don't make mistakes."

  3. Already, more than one in three U.S. workers are freelancers. They will produce an estimated $1 trillion in revenue, according to a survey released earlier this fall by the Freelancers Union and the freelancing platform Upwork. The percentage of freelancers will increase in 2017 and onward, Popcorn asserts: "It's accelerating every year.” She also shares that some large companies that are building offices with fewer seats than employees. Citibank built an office space in Long Island City, Queens, with 150 seats for 200 employees and no assigned desks to encourage a fluid environment.

  4. Traditionally emotions haven't belonged inside the office. That's basically because workplaces have largely been run by men, says Popcorn, but that's changing. "The female entry into the workplace has brought emotional intelligence into the workplace and that comes with emotion. There is a lot of anxiety about the future, there is a lot of stress-related burnout and we are seeing more emotion being displayed in the workplace."

  5. "People are going to be working 24 hours a day," says Popcorn. Technology has enabled global, constant communication. The WeLive spaces that WeWork launched are indicative of this trend towards work and life integration, she says (WeLive lets you sleep at your coworking space): "There is no line between work and play."

For more of Faith Popcorn’s predictions for the workplace of tomorrow, check out the full CNBC article here.


Inside the Gig Economy

24 March 2017 Press 2853 Views

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The gig economy has been on the rise for several years, and many reports point to a continued trend. Simply put, this describes the scenario of American workers taking on both side gigs and cobbling together a living from an array short-term work or longer-term contracted jobs.

Findings from a recent study by Adobe revealed that as many as one-third of the 1,000 U.S. office workers they polled had a second job and more than half (56%) predicted we would all have multiple jobs in the future. The annual report from Upwork and the Freelancers Union found that more people than ever are choosing to operate as freelancers, up to whopping 55 million this year, or 35% of the total U.S. workforce. In addition, as many as 81% of traditional workers they surveyed said they would “be willing to do additional work outside of [their] primary job if it was available and enabled [them] to make more money.”

Fast Company asked Faith Popcorn, CEO and founder of Faith Popcorn’s BrainReserve, to share her thinking about why we are seeing this rise in the Gig Economy. Popcorn is a noted futurist and a best-selling author who has a proven 95% accuracy rate in her predictions. She said not to overlook the impact Millennials will have on the gig economy. The largest cohort in the workforce “inherited a bad economy, have little prospect of home ownership, and come bearing deep college debt,” Popcorn said, so “the idea of one career seems increasingly untenable.” She believes that automation and AI will only accelerate the rise of gigging (or having “side-hustles”). “Ironically, automations like self-driving cars will eliminate some jobs (i.e., driving for Uber), and give way to new forms of gigging yet undiscovered,” she says.

Popcorn added that these shifts will have the greatest impact on millennials, creating something she calls the “Living in the Blur” paradigm. “It’s a tech-enabled, nomadic existence in which there’s a constant mix of business and pleasure; where traveling for a job is no problem in a Sharing Economy; where professional and creative passions are pursued one moment, and the next, one is all but an automaton, tackling Mechanical Turk tagging projects,” she said. “These contradictions will cohabitate as we deal with the economic and industrial fallout of a quickly morphing society.”

For more about this new economy, you can check out the full FastCompany article here.


TrendWatch: Will Frugality or Consumption Win?

02 May 2017 Press 1739 Views

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Predicted futurist Faith Popcorn: "As President-elect Trump—voted in by average Americans—stocks his cabinet with billionaires, we'll see a duality emerge and the rift between the Haves and the Have-nots deepening."

Faith Popcorn was interviewed by The Street soon after the 2016 Presidential election. A noted Futurist, best-selling author and CEO of the strategic consultancy Faith Popcorn’s BrainReserve, she had a strong viewpoint. Asked whether consumer Trends indicated that the nation would be more frugal or more free-spending after President Trump’s win, she had the following to say: "The rich and struggling alike will also find a new allure in the Simple Life. Just as Trump is seen feasting on fast food, so will other basic American pleasures gain badge value - as a vote of solidarity with those who powered Trump into office. It's a nostalgia for 'the good old days.'"

She also predicted: "Watch as luxury goods boom, and hyper-customized concierge and on-demand services for the elite, skyrocket. Some of it will be seen in public, but it will be happening full-tilt in private.” With a documented accuracy rate of 95% in forecasting what’s ahead, Faith is known as a trusted advisor to the C-suite of the Fortune 500. She calls her practice Applied Futurism, meaning she not only uses her proprietary methodology and inputs to know what lies ahead, she can interpret that vision of Tomorrow to help clients develop sustainable and profitable brands and businesses.

Her best-selling book The Popcorn Report introduced the world to the concept of consumer Trends and Trend-tracking. (She subsequently published three more books sharing her expertise in future-focused marketing and strategic consulting.) Among the renowned Trends she identified are Pleasure Revenge – in which consumers are mad as hell and seek to let loose by (over)indulging—and Future Tense, which captures how stressed-out consumers can’t cope with daily life. Both of these cultural currents apply to the state of today’s consumers as a new kind of leader emerges.

To read more, click here.


Faith Popcorn on the Unpredictable Year Ahead

07 July 2017 Press 2592 Views

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Futurist Faith Popcorn, who’s founder and CEO of Faith Popcorn’s BrainReserve, a strategic consultancy serving the Fortune 500, has predicted everything from the popularity of home delivery services to the cultural trends that led to Donald Trump’s presidential win. She recently spoke to the Observer about what she envisions for the year ahead.

•    Popcorn predicts the rise of Micro-Clanning, or creating small groups of friends based on similar beliefs (think your current Facebook feed). This is done by what she calls Digital Cocooning, where people only follow accounts that won’t stress them out (think unfollowing a Facebook friend whose political beliefs irk you.) Another Trend is FutureTense, where consumers are so anxious about the indicators of Tomorrow they escape by drinking heavily or watching reality television. Another forecast introduces the Vigilante Consumer, a shopper who demands accountability from the companies she buys from and holds them to an ever-higher standard.

•    Among the companies that are setting the standard for Tomorrow: “We are already seeing brands like Everlane rise,” says Popcorn. “I love their ‘set your own price’ sales. They tell you exactly how much the materials cost and about the factory conditions where it was manufactured. Companies that give back and support their consumers will also thrive. I love Sephora’s Accelerate program of funding female founders in beauty.”

•    Popcorn says that increasingly we’ll look to technology to enhance human contact: “Our digital lives are enabling Micro-Clanning, like all of the websites and apps that connect like-minded people. There are dating sites for snake lovers and salad eaters, for tattoo fanciers and marathoners. There are apps and sites that connect like-minded people like meetup.com and Hey!Vina to pair up platonic female friends. So it’s happening online and IRL. Young people have too many Facebook, Instagram and Twitter friends and those are not real friends–they should shed some. Have you seen Bestie Rows, where friends are living side by side in tiny smart houses? That’s not tech-enabled but [it’s] all about the power of the squad.”

For more of Faith’s thoughts on the Future, click here for the full Observer article.

Living in a Post-Supermarket World

24 August 2017 Press 618 Views

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With Amazon’s recent acquisition of Whole Foods, the question of what’s next for grocery stores is top of mind. Some say that Amazon jumped into this market at the wrong time, others say that Amazon is gearing up to own all aspects of food provisions, from supermarkets to prepared-meals delivery.

When asked by CNBC for her opinion, Faith Popcorn—the noted futurist with a 95% accuracy rate who has been called “the trend oracle”—said that “grocery stores are dead.” Popcorn, along with having written several books including ground-breaking best-seller, The Popcorn Report – offers future-focused strategic consultancy through her company, Faith Popcorn’s BrainReserve.

​Regarding Amazon’s new grocery venture, Popcorn believes that the average grocery store can no longer offer the consumer what they want. Popcorn says that “the aisles are filled with things you can have delivered, the spaces are not clean, inviting or engaging.” She sees the grocery experience moving completely online. Amazon is not the only business making this shift. Walmart has begun their own online grocery service, while Target has launched their same-day delivery service. Popcorn imagines that soon, one will have options curated to one’s tastes and physiological needs, seamlessly delivered in the burgeoning On-Demand Economy. For example, she has said that an implanted chip will read your blood biochemistry and detect what foods would best optimize your health or correct any deficiencies. One will also be able to have anything from ingredients to meal kits to beautifully prepared, ready-to-eat meals delivered in moments.

​She predicts an end to the traditional grocery experience unless grocers can offer something that will lure customers back, whether that’s an educational component or a deeply engaging experience. Until bricks-and-mortar stores offer consumers added value, they will have no reason to leave the comfort of their home – and online shopping – when it comes to stocking their kitchen.

​To read the full article, click here.


Cannabis Culture: Are You Ready?

24 September 2017 Press 719 Views

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According the Faith Popcorn, a renowned futurist, CEO of Faith Popcorn’s BrainReserve, as well as and author of the best-seller The Popcorn Report, there’s a huge cultural and marketing disruptor on the horizon. The marijuana industry is just budding now but will soon reinvent the marketplace. Popcorn sees cannabis as the hottest growth industry of the near future and believes that now is the time for companies to make their move. In an article she wrote for Food & Drink International, Popcorn outlines what we can expect for the future of cannabis.

First, she shared these staggering statistics: In 2016, the cannabis industry was worth $6.7 billion dollars, a 30% increase over the year before. In addition, eight more states fully legalized marijuana, bringing the total of weed-friendly states to 29, along with Washington D.C. What’s more, by 2020 the weed market is expected to be worth $32 billion, which is almost the value of the snack food industry, and nearly $50 billion by 2026. Popcorn believes that these projected numbers are only the beginning of what is to be reaped from the cannabis industry. Now is the time for companies to strategize how they can capitalize on this trend.

Popcorn also highlighted the growing acceptance of cannabis culture as another force that should motivate companies to consider how to market this in-demand ingredient. She notes that 61% of American’s are pro-legalization, and 88% agree that medical marijuana should be allowed. The trend is especially popular among young people, with 71% of Millennials believing it should be legalized.

In addition, with rates of anxiety surging, marijuana—with its stress-relieving benefits—can be seen as part of Popcorn’s well-known Cocooning trend (protecting oneself from the harsh realities of the outside world). No other generation is feeling anxiety more than Millennials, and weed is especially appealing to this demographic because it’s natural. Popcorn says this generation is much more likely to choose plants over pills to self-medicate as part of the Being Alive Trend, which expresses the consumers quest for better health and longevity.

Popcorn recognizes that embracing cannabis will be a challenge for many big brands. Despite the fact that many Millennials embrace marijuana, there is still quite a strong national stigma. This is likely the result of the federal government’s stance on the classification of marijuana as a drug, which also inhibits how money can change hands. Still, in states like Colorado and California, Fortune 500 companies have already begun investing in this high-growth business.

Popcorn tells us that we can expect to see marijuana added to foods and beverages and an array of personal-care products in the future. Because of its controversial nature, major brands will have to seek “consumer permission” before they jump head first into the cannabis industry. Many legacy products will not be elastic enough to embrace cannabis without a deep erosion of brand value. In some cases, acquisition will be a better path to market entry than tinkering with established brands.

While some businesses will take the safe route and stay out of this burgeoning marketplace, Popcorn encourages companies to recognize that cannabis is something consumers increasingly want. Marijuana is likely to be one of the most successful industries of the 21st century. Those who don’t get involved in cannabis today will regret it tomorrow.

Click here to read the full article.


How Thinking About Tomorrow Helps Your Business Today

17 October 2017 Press 681 Views

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INC. magazine recently interviewed Faith Popcorn, CEO of Faith Popcorn’s BrainReserve, to discuss the intersection of futurism and strategy. Popcorn is a noted futurist who has assisted dozens of Fortune 500 companies in seeing the opportunities for their brands in the years ahead.

In the interview, Popcorn describes futurism as observing the future – looking for both patterns and outliers as one projects ahead 10, 20 or more years. She makes use of a technique called “backcasting” as well. This involves envisioning the far future, based on an array of inputs such as quantitative forecasts, interviews with her TalentBank (a global network of futurists) and her proprietary TrendBank, which documents shifts in 17 key cultural currents. She and her team then plot, in smaller time segments, how brands and businesses can thrive in the landscape of tomorrow.

Popcorn believes that companies who don’t incorporate futurism into their system will not be around long-term. As she sees it, if you don’t know where you are going, you can’t get there. Futurism helps businesses succeed because it requires them to pay attention to what is emerging over the next few years, not just the next quarter.

One of the best ways for a larger legacy company to see the future is to acquire a smaller disruptor, says Popcorn. She uses the examples of Unilever acquiring Ben & Jerry’s, the ice-cream brand, as well as Colgate-Palmolive Co.’s acquisition of Tom's of Maine, with its natural personal-care products. Popcorn says that it is difficult for larger companies to disrupt from within but acquiring an innovative new, smaller company can bring new thinking and energy from the inside out.

Popcorn shares several trends that will make an impact on the business world. She notes that there is a shift underway from knowledge transfer to knowledge enhancement. She shares that Google has become our culture’s hyper-charged brain, available to elevate what we know at every moment.” She also notes that marketers need to be cognizant that making things bigger (whether through mergers and acquisitions or through big data) does not always make them better. She believes that businesses must always also be focused on their consumers’ life issues – such as childcare – when planning their next steps.

Beyond that, she advises companies to weave futurism into their work. She says it’s a powerful force that can actually protect companies and keep them on the right track for sustainable success in an increasingly challenging business environment.

Click here to read the full article.


A Futurist’s Roots

01 November 2017 Press 1231 Views

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Faith Popcorn always knew she had a knack for understanding the future. She describes it as “an ability to tie different trains and trails and strings together.” The CEO of Faith Popcorn’s BrainReserve, a strategic consultancy, Popcorn recently shared how she came to be the premier futurist to the Fortune 500 in an interview with Fashion magazine.

Popcorn had originally set her sights on becoming a lawyer, like her parents, but decided it was too boring and went to work in an advertising firm after college. While there, she saw her colleagues working on creating images and messages about the present, but felt that they were completely missing out on the future. She also believed that the culture would be media in the future – no more ads. With that vision of tomorrow in place, she chose to fill the gap in the marketplace. Popcorn quit the advertising world to start her own future-focused consulting company.

The business took off, and has a stellar roster of Fortune 500 companies, including Allergan, Campbell’s, Citi, IBM, L’Oreal and Royal Caribbean. Services focus on positioning, strategic roadmaps, FutureVisions of an industry or a brand, and teaching clients how to forecast the future for themselves.

The author of several ground-breaking books on consumer trends—most notably the best-selling The Popcorn Report--Popcorn says her company has two key pieces of IP: its network of 10,000 futurists worldwide (known as her TalentBank) and the TrendBank, a repository of the 17 deep cultural shifts that her team tracks. She and her strategists then practice what is known as Applied Futurism, which involves painting an accurate portrait of the future, and then “back-casting” to today, and seeing the steps that must happen to thrive tomorrow.

One key shift Popcorn sees coming: she believes that augmented humans will be our future. We will be able to tweak our DNA to look better, live longer, and achieve more. New technology will be able to give us artificial memories and ESP-like instant communication. Everything will be intuitive. Given Popcorn’s documented 95% accuracy rate in predicting what’s ahead, these forecasts will more than likely become facts.


The Tech Effect: A Look at Tomorrow

17 November 2017 Press 1308 Views

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At the 2017 Ad Age Next conference in New York City, one of the principals of Faith Popcorn’s BrainReserve, Tiana Holt, was a featured speaker. Holt is a leading thinker at the future-focused, trend-based strategic consultancy, which serves the Fortune 500 by creating sustainable success via consumer products, positionings and messaging. She spoke on a panel about the impact of technology on our lives in the future and highlighted several significant changes on the horizon:

• It’s a matter of when, not if, our jobs will be replaced by AI. Holt cited the statistic that Oxford University predicts that 40% of US jobs will be taken by technology (AI or bots) by 2035. But Holt cautioned that we should not fear this – that it is part of evolution—and we must instead find ways to collaborate with tech and use it to elevate humanity.

• She noted that while many in the media and marketing are relentlessly focused on Millennials, Boomers actually merit increased attention. They are a huge demographic – 111 million strong – and they control most of the wealth in our nation. Indeed, with the life expectancy increasing, this group will find their impact on our culture and economy lasting even longer than previously believed.

• Amazon will play an ever more powerful role in our live. With its deep knowledge of our buying habits, its expansion into groceries and meals with the acquisition of Whole Foods, and its anticipated entry into the direct-to-consumer pharma market, it has the means and scope to be the one-stop portal for an increasing share of purchases and services.

• AI will infiltrate more higher-order jobs in the coming years. Holt forecast that beyond blue-collar rote jobs, AI will soon be able to play an increasing role in childcare, education, eldercare, and – perhaps most surprisingly – employment we traditionally consider human-driven. For example, an AI therapist called Ellie is having remarkable (better than human) success in working with veterans who are suffering from PTSD. Holt forecast that we will continue to find new ways to partner with this kind of tech to better serve our most basic of human needs with customized care.

For an excerpt of the panel, please click here.


How to Market Marijuana

30 November 2017 Press 995 Views

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Marijuana will be legal almost everywhere in the near future, predicts Faith Popcorn, Futurist and CEO of the strategic consultancy Faith Popcorn’s BrainReserve. In a wide-ranging interview with www.marijuana.com, Popcorn discussed the current scenario in Canada, where recreational use will be legal by July of 2018. However, recent legislation there suggests that marijuana products should be packaged in plain brown wrappers to make its status as a psychoactive clear and protect consumers.

Popcorn, an expert in consumer trends and marketing, feels that this packaging guideline would do a huge disservice to the companies that manufacture the products and especially to the consumer. She explains that a plain brown wrapper would keep marijuana looking like a shady, illegitimate product despite its legal status.

It would also run counter to the Egonomics Trend, which says that in our increasingly impersonal world, consumers want products tailored just to their unique needs. In order for prospective buyers to connect with a brand, they need more information than just size and strength of the product. Popcorn has said, “When you are drinking vodka, you get to decide if you want Tito’s or Absolut. Marijuana should follow the same path.” She points to the example of Netflix partnering with a California dispensary this year to create strains of cannabis that sync with the new season of streaming shows. She sees it as a brilliant way to acknowledge the ability of marijuana to achieve different moods – from giddy to relaxed to sleepy – and to allow consumers to decide just what they want to consume.

In addition, Popcorn emphasized that marijuana companies should take a cue from beverage alcohol companies. Those businesses steer clear of anything that could be perceived as marketing to those underage – nothing cartoony. She cautioned cannabis businesses to not go down the path of gummies and cookies that can seem targeted at those who are not legal. She also emphasized the importance of packaging sizes – she noted that THC-laced beverages are currently sold in familiar-looking single-serve cola bottles with instructions to drink just a small portion, not the whole 16 ounces as one usually would. Popcorn said that no alcohol company would ever put 100-proof liquor in that kind of bottle and expect the consumer to know not to guzzle the whole quantity. So too must emerging cannabis companies reflect and work with prevailing consumer behaviors to ensure a safe and satisfying experience – and one that doesn’t get them into the crosshairs of even stricter guidelines.

To read the full article, click here.

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