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Predicting The Future With Culture Pilot — 2024 Edition

Each year, Culture Pilot assembles a short Trends Forecast to study our potential future. Have a look back at editions from last year or the year before.

It’s that time of year again when we peer into the future. This year, our team explored how current and upcoming trends may potentially impact society’s emotional temperature.

But first, let’s take a moment to look back at the past year and see which of our prior predictions are taking shape…

What Just Happened?

2023 started off with the continuation of Ukraine’s struggle to deal with a shitass bully to the North. February saw the tragic, fifth-deadliest earthquake of the century hit Turkey and Syria. In March, Silicon Valley Bank suddenly collapsed when it surprised investors with a balance sheet that was off by a little bit. A little bit more than $2 Billion. And we’ve been witnessing a tragic escalation to war between Palestine and Israel. Our hearts go out to everyone affected by these horrifying events.

A bit more uplifting, Gwyneth Paltrow had an amusing time in court this year. We got a chance to escape with Barbenheimer. Another loud, overpaid racist got fired from FOX News. The World Health Organization ended the global health emergency thanks to a consistent decline in the severity of COVID-19 cases. June gave science another win when researchers created the world’s first “synthetic embryos,” bypassing the need for natural fertilization. And Blink 182 played a surprise show at Coachella. Sometimes happiness is in… all the small things. 

Microsoft has had quite a year. For the gamers out there, Blizzard Activision (parent company of Overwatch, Call of Duty, and World of Warcraft) was acquired by the company that brought us the Zune. AI continued its rapid growth, and right in time for Thanksgiving, front-runners OpenAI (parent company of ChatGPT) started a reality TV show. J/K. But it felt like it when the board fired the CEO, and hundreds of employees threatened to quit. Then Microsoft (owning a substantial stake in OpenAI) said, “Nope!” and ensured Sam Altman was reinstated as CEO. Within a weekend. 

Which past Culture Pilot predictions came true?

Last year, we made a runner-up mention of the fall of Twitter. And technically speaking, Twitter no longer exists! Horrid decisions on brand name change aside, it’s reported that the company has lost approximately 13% of daily active users. X-it stage left? We’re still eager to see how it all pans out. 

Next up, 4-day work weeks are picking up more momentum. We started our own journey toward 4-day work weeks at the end of 2021 and continue to see more businesses, peers, and state legislature moving America in a positive direction. 

In 2021, we also touched on the technical accessibility improvements helping mom-and-pop shops thrive. It’s been reported that 2023 may end with about a 17% increase in small-business sales, or nearly $20 billion worldwide. Time will tell how America’s economy will impact the final numbers, but it’s a trend we love to see.

Robert Plutchik’s Wheel Of Emotions

What’s Next?

Let’s dive into our latest thoughts on the near future and how it may impact our emotional well-being…

Digital Inheritance: The Rise of Death Care

Grief, Distress

As the baby boomer generation ages, successors deal with a new kind of inheritance: digital personas. Regardless of age, when anyone passes away in the digital age, handling their online legacies brings sadness mixed with frustration. We’re tasked with managing their email accounts, social profiles, and the all-important login information for necessary digital assets left behind.

It’s an emotionally charged undertaking, combining grief with the sheer complexity of preserving or retiring someone’s digital footprint. Digital Death Care is expected to grow to a $200 billion market by 2030. It’s become of inevitable importance to have succession planning in place to reduce stress on heirs and relatives during already arduous times of loss.

Tackling Gene Editing: When Excitement Meets Ethics

Wonder, Fear

Gene editing opens up a world of medical possibilities and, with it, a rollercoaster of emotions. We confront the prospect of eradicating diseases and breeding hope. However, the potential for misuse comes with understandable anxiety. We’re straddling the line between the excitement of scientific advances and the concern over ethical implications. The market is anticipated to grow over $20 billion in 20 years. Living through these changes will continue to be marked by an uneasy combo of anticipation and caution.

Consciousness in Consumption: From Apathy to Appreciation

Apathy, Complacency

The ease of online shopping (and hopefully the continued flourishing of opportunities for mom-and-pop shops) often shields us from the reality of how goods are made and delivered. Many of us don’t think twice about the implications of or the effort behind what we consume, which leads to a world of indifference. While we’ve seen the desire for locally-made or locally sourced goods over the past decade continue to thrive, a much larger awareness is still required to avoid greenwashing and further climate apathy. Simply put, people must understand the value of knowing where products come from.

Embracing Quality Over Quantity

Pride, Contentment

Related to the above, when we begin to care, we see a shift away from cheap, disposable products to those with lasting quality. In addition to supporting collective sustainability efforts, investing in better craftsmanship can bring about pride in our possessions. This mindset reflects a desire for authenticity in what we own. We’d love to see a trend of increased brand advocacy through the simple act of caring. As we pay more attention to the supply chain, we can shift from apathy to appreciation and enjoy smarter buying habits with a more profound sense of fulfillment when spending our hard-earned money.

20 years after MySpace: Balancing Togetherness and Division

Excitement, Discontent, Hope

Social media has both connected us and driven us apart since before the launch of MySpace in 2003. Over the past two decades, online platforms have broken barriers and opened communications previously seen only in dreams. In parallel, we’ve also witnessed a fostering of polarization. Add a global pandemic when we’re forced apart from one another, and that vicious combination can cause some widespread discontent.

Thankfully, moves toward reviving community-driven developments, such as Houston’s first cohousing initiative, appear to mark a positive step toward cultivating real-life connections again. It’s evoking a sense of hope. There’s a push to rediscover the emotional benefits of physically being together, cooking together, and playing together. Maybe even high fives, handshakes, or fist bumps will be as prevalent as digital likes once more. We can only hope!

Self-Trust in the Algorithmic Age

Apprehension, Cynicism

Our reliance on customer opinions and automated recommendations are starting to shake our confidence in personal judgment. Does anyone make a purchase decision without considering online reviews anymore? Are readers digging deeper than opinions and headlines? Validating real versus fake art, reviews, or news is only the beginning.

As AI becomes even more prevalent in our daily routines, the habits we form, knowingly or otherwise, may lead us down a path of uneasiness. But remember, we can each form our own valid opinions. If we take a little extra time to do our own research and validate sources, we might just be able to ensure a healthier emotional state when it comes to trusting our gut.

Runners Up

The Sedentary Downside: Negative emotions associated with sedentary work are real. Our bodies and minds crave movement. Increasing physical activity is not just a matter of health; it’s also about staying emotionally uplifted and productive. In 2021, we touched on the rise of the quantified self, which thankfully continues to thrive for a very good reason – our bodies, minds, and emotions will always be better off in motion. Don’t let this trend stop.

Is Remote Work Changing Family Dynamics? Every year, we seem to touch on the rise of remote work since we took our own leap back in 2014. But the more it grows, the more society realizes how it can drastically alter work-life balance, particularly related to households with children. An often unspoken outcome is how children perceive their parents’ work up close, which can demystify the working world or their perceptions and expectations of employment. Should we be concerned about how our kids perceive our work? Moreover, the constant presence of screens at home may affect their digital habits, raising questions about the long-term emotional impact on the family unit.

Customer Service Continues To Evolve At Cost: Good customer service has become a default expectation for consumers. When it’s exceptional, it sparks feelings of happiness and trust. But are we getting spoiled? Recent years have brought vast improvements in return policies. The easier it is to return merchandise, the increased trust and likelihood of sales. But there’s a growing awareness of the environmental impact caused by more delivery drivers. Providing outstanding customer experiences is becoming a necessity, but it must be balanced responsibly. Can we have impeccable service without environmental impact? We’re staying optimistic for a happy medium. 

Making The Best Of The Rainbow Road

We’re going to experience every emotion life has to offer, now and in the near future. Uncertainty and lack of knowledge will continue to lead society toward fear, anxiety, and negativity. And avoiding adverse feelings will continue to be unrealistic (that’s life, dammit). But we can endeavor to reduce the worst of it. We can all stand to slow down from time to time, take a breath, better inform ourselves, talk to one another (in person if we dare), and most importantly, share kindness and concern for ourselves, for our friends, our family, and strangers too. 

When we practice the act of putting ourselves in the shoes of others, we improve our own emotional understanding. And that just so happens to be the underlying nature of building successful brands, too.


Did we miss anything this year? Let us know! Or just send a note to say hello. From all of us, we're wishing all of you a relaxing holiday and a positive jumpstart to 2024.

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