Jan 31, 2017

2016 was a Heady Year, Full of Cultural Shifts and Here’s What We’re Seeing…

2016 was a heady year, full of cultural shifts. The country—and the world—feels like it’s on the brink of something new and unexpected. People are hungry for change, whether it’s in their personal lives, their professional lives, and/or their political lives. Things are moving quickly, but if you look closely, certain distinct trends and patterns are emerging. Over the past twelve months, Velocity has kept a close watch on the impact these trends and patterns have on culture at large, and here’s what they’re seeing…

1. The Power of Activism

Maria Warith, Coordinator – Avid live tweeter of all things politics & entertainment with a dose of #BlackGirlMagic:

"Protest and culture are intertwined. Given our president, I expect that activism, whether it be through music, film, or television, will become more visible in 2017 than it was this past year."

Maya Peterson, Director – Politics & fashion junkie always trying to get out of NYC on weekends:

"Like many people, I was in my own cultural bubble and expected a different election outcome. I hope that in 2017, people will leave their bubbles and become more educated in politics. We can only make a difference if we’re paying attention, and are vigilant and vocal about the norms being dismantled in this country."

Erika Lewis, Vice President – Southern-bred Velocity veteran, event magician, live music lover, and college sports fanatic:

"Previously unimaginable political and social shifts have created a deeper understanding by force. The hope is that a broader society will start to truly listen to others, to value people’s differences and act for the greater good, so that the change that occurred in 2016 will lead to the betterment of us all."

2. Tech & Changing Realities

Andrew Glasgow, Senior Vice President – Father, wine lover, fantasy-sports stalwart who believes in the power of team collaboration for the best innovation:

"From VR/AR to TimeHop to Snapchat lenses, there are many tools that now allow us to relish in the past or augment our present reality. How does this match up with the equally strong push for capturing more of the live and raw? Whatever wins the race between our desire for authenticity and the quest for an augmented, curated self will no doubt influence the tools that come next.”"

Wesley Robison, Sr. Manager – Future enthusiast, student of media, and tech nerd following the good word of our technologic overlords “0100011101000100…”

"Augmented reality and artificial intelligence entering the customer service space poses questions about how new technologies can be additive to a traditionally human-guided experience. But until we get there, companies will be challenged to ensure that customer service experiences can wield the right amount of personality even though they may actually be built only with lines of code."

3. The New Mainstream

 Mark Lowyns, Experiential Director – Cultural connector, soccer fanatic:

"U.S. fans are starting to follow the trends set by hardcore global soccer supporters—adopting their behaviors, style choices, symbolism, chants, and TIFO’s. Supporter style is making its way from the field to fashion runways and hip-hop stages. As support for the sport grows and European street style infuses with Americans’ love of sportswear, I know we’ll see more soccer jerseys, track jackets, scarves, and trainers in years to come."

Zac Bloom, Director – Stereotypically bearded Brooklyn-dweller holding on for dear life to the end of his twenties:

"We often talk about how millennial behaviors and attitudes are rubbing off on the rest of the population, but this past year has challenged the extent to which wider society echoes the same values as young people. One way we might see things shift in 2017 is how millennials continue to redefine success—will young people start thinking more locally about the things they can control in terms of politics, financial capital, work, or their personal relationships?"

Asia Johnson, Executive Assistant – A goofy, pop-culture enthusiast with a touch of Type A attitude:

"The empowerment of minority audiences will force creators to be transparent and authentic; if you want to stand out in the hyper-curated terrain that is the internet, you have to be very clear about who you are and what you represent. You have a segment of the population that’s like, ‘We need to be visible, we want to see more people that look like us, we’ve proven that we are profitable, we’re seeing it everywhere on TV.’"

Kailah Mays, Coordinator – Native New Yorker, nail art obsessive, aspiring peripatetic:

"We’ve seen changes in how millennials book travel with the rise of Airbnb and travel blogs. There’s a desire for truly authentic cultural experiences that are one of a kind—we want to hang with locals, embrace the culture, and make lasting connections. More and more people will take the road less traveled and companies will have to create products to keep travelers engaged."

Mary Kate Callen, Sr. Director – Marketing professional, film, cooking, photography, sewing, and candle-making amateur:

"People are looking to dig deeper into both fact and fiction. We’ve seen fans and people looking to dig deeper into the content that they consume on screen and IRL, while at the same time you have people challenging once trusted news sources in the search for what’s real (#PizzaGate!). This curiosity forces creators to be more thoughtful, to be more thorough, to think through character arcs, and think the way a fan would think about the worlds you’re creating."

4. Evolution of Work Culture

Terry Nesmith, Director; Operations Director – Life and career coach, eternal cartoon watcher:

"Culture ties together everything: recruiting, diversity, inclusivity, onboarding, learning, and development. An overall thoughtful approach is what takes companies to the next level. As companies wake up to the fact that culture is the heartbeat of any organization, we will see attempts to compete by focusing on developing more meaning around the work their employees do."

Joe Keilch, Sr. Manager – Tall, bespectacled furniture and design addict who advocates for mutually beneficial relationships between employees and the organizations they work for:

"As more people move to cities and there’s more competition for knowledge worker jobs, the expectations of companies are being increased—it’s not just enough to provide a paycheck, it’s not just enough to provide snacks and a gym—you have to provide development opportunities and more holistic ways for employees to grow both personally and professionally. Companies who aren’t doing that will continue to have a hard time attracting and retaining the best talent."