Cincinnati People: 2017 Industry Trend Report

LPK’s Futurist Valerie Jacobs on What We Should be Thinking About in 2017

John Erardi sat down with Valerie Jacobs, LPK’s Chief Insights & Innovation Officer, to ask her about trends we should be watching for 2017.

Here are her thoughts in full with video clips for each industry.

“The most important work of a trend forecaster is not even necessarily “knowing” what all the trends are though. What matters is the ability to take action based on the trends, to translate them into a meaningful strategy or new, creative executions for a company or brand.

When we talk about trends we are connecting the dots from the evidence we see in today’s world, we call that evidence a “manifestation.” When we can uncover the underlying reason something is happening, then we can begin to understand how that will be a force for change in our broader (societal level) beliefs, values, attitudes and lifestyles.”


“The entire notion of mobility is changing and we see several intriguing things happening.

Fiat-Chrysler skipped the Detroit Auto Show and is rumored to be debuting two new models at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). It’s a gesture that suggests consumers see an automobile as an electronic device, suggesting a different way for consumers to “see” and interpret the meaning of a “car.”

You can see other changes, too: Elon Musk’s Hyperloop, a privately funded electric-rail system, suggests America’s future infrastructure could come from the private sector, not the government. And brands like Lyft and Uber are launching autonomous vehicles and subscription services—all examples of a growing mindset that moves from personal ownership to on-demand access.”


“For many years, the biggest shift we’ve tracked in retail is the merger of the physical and the digital realms. It’s often referred to as “omnichannel integration”—largely brick-and-mortar players have tried to match the e-commerce strategies of the digitally native competitors. At the same time, those businesses continue to innovate in “real-world” contexts.

Just recently, we’ve watched Amazon embrace that full spectrum. They just announced a slew of new concepts, including Amazon Go, which is sort of futuristic “convenience store” that will eliminate the in-person checkout process altogether. Amazon excels at embracing actionable trends. They identify parts of shopping that are broken, irrelevant or that might just simply be annoying to people, and then they invent ways to change the shopping experience for the better. It’s a brilliant, human-centric approach.”


“My sightline on this industry is different. At LPK, we work with many institutions in higher education. What we’re seeing is a category that’s ripe for disruption, but the movement hasn’t hit just yet. Sometimes being a trend forecaster is about extended monitoring. Right now, we’re watching as Gen-Y, or Millennials, come out of the system overeducated, underemployed and up to their ears in debt. Category change is only a matter of time. How it manifests? That’s work we’re tackling now.”

Health & Wellness and Hospitality

“When you bring up health and wellness, you naturally bring up hospitality too. One of the trends we’re focused on is the phenomenon of two categories merging. Health & wellness is more closely resembling hospitality and spas. We see health & wellness—from gym memberships to pressed juices—skewing more premium, and we see high-end resorts promoting health, wellness and vitality as top amenities. Being viewed as healthy and vital is luxury.

The shift isn’t just physical either. We see people placing more value on total self-care: that’s spirituality, meditation and even sleep. There’s an active mainstreaming of mindfulness.”


“There’s a lot to talk about here, but one of the shifts we’ve identified is the emergence of the antibrand. There’s a Japanese, cult-level brand, MUJI, that’s been around for over 30 years. It’s incredibly minimalist, and essentially un-branded. This kind of positioning is influencing the industry in bigger ways, too: a new CPG marketplace called Brandless was recently announced. It’s backed by Silicon Valley investors and will make space for lesser-known consumer brands to compete with big players.

All of this points to a shift in human desires: consumers want to participate more directly, and more meaningfully, in the purchase experience, to be associated with the qualities of authenticity that small brands embody. Big corporations are racing to acquire the lesser-known brands that fit that storyline.”