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[Trends 2015] Trends with tension

Every year, the planners at Y&R share insights about how the world around us is changing. But the reality is that it's never black and white. At a macro level, every behaviour, observation and perspective has an inherent tension. Every trend has a countertrend.

1. Brands

BRANDS WILL SERVE US - we will become one with technology: The era of separate devices is over, as technology is embedded in everything we wear - and potentially even ourselves - technological and human intelligence will become indistinguishable. Mainstream adoption of wearables is merely the beginning of a sweeping transition to technology that is no longer distractingly visible, but seamlessly invisible.

BRANDS WILL CONTROL US - brands will become the next generation of lobbyists: As public trust in government hits new lows, brands are encroaching on the roles and responsibilities of our governments. But instead of advocating on behalf of the consumer constituency, brands will become synonymous with the interests of corporations and shareholders.

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2. Gender

THE NEUTRALISATION OF GENDER - gender will soon become a defunct term: We're eschewing the typical 'male' and 'female' categories for a gender-agnostic approach that allows for self-expression outside of traditional lines. There's no doubt that men's and women's roles have become less strictly defined; many families have made the male and female roles more egalitarian when it comes to jobs, housework and childcare. From unisex baby names and toys to fragrance and clothing, we're clearly moving toward a world where gender will be an archaic distinction.

THE RETURN OF GENDER - the days of gender neutrality are over: In a world where men and women can be whomever and whatever they want, we see a future where each gender returns to the security and predictability of traditional norms - purely because they can. Whether it's men proving their manliness through Tough Mudder, or women electing to return to the days of bodice-slimming corsets, the future of gender lies in the past.

3. Technology

TECH WILL ENABLE CONNECTIONS - technology creates and deepens meaningful connections that would otherwise be impossible: Grandma can be present at your Thanksgiving table, even when she's three thousand miles away. From shirts that help convey our emotions to operating systems that advise on relationships, technology continues to evolve in ways that fuel human relationships.

TECH WILL DISCONNECT US - in a hyper-connected world, we will become increasingly disconnected: As our virtual networks explode, our comfort with interpersonal intimacy plummets. Spontaneity and vulnerability are replaced by premeditated responses and painstakingly curated public personae. As technology becomes increasingly sophisticated, we will only become more and more isolated - leading to the demise of empathy and collective society.

Credit: The Y&R team who contributed to this article are: Mary Anthony; Vanessa Cameron; Juliette Cilia; Jeremy Daly; Tara Fray; Mary Mazza; Rebecca Menges; Susanne Raymond; John Swan.

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