The Innovation Group’s annual Future 100 report is a snapshot of emerging trends, tracking innovation across major consumer sectors. How did our forecasts fare last year? Below, we look at the top trend predictions in lifestyle, food+drink and health.

Modular Living

By 2015, 33% of households in NYC were single-person dwellings, as were 37% in Chicago and 45% in Washington, DC. Living spaces became more flexible to adapt to the needs of single urban dwellers, prompting a spark in the development of modular units that continued into 2016. Designers also applied the “modular” concept to furniture itself, creating moveable micro-units that could be rearranged inside.

–At Miami Design Week, Carlos Ratti Associati showed “Rooms: Novel Living Concepts,” a flexible furniture design concept that featured a transformable sofa and more. MINI also showcased a modular kitchen unit.

–In July, Yves Behar’ Fuseproject and the MIT Media Lab partnered on a smart furniture system for micro apartments, with connected furniture that can be reconfigured at the touch of a button.

–Brooklyn’s 461 Dean opened recently to become the world’s tallest modular building, with units that cost 20% less than a conventional tower, Wired writes.

Ori by Fuseproject

Pink and blue for all

In 2015, Target made headlines when it removed gender-based signs in its toy aisles. Gender neutral marketing became a trend in 2016, spurred by a younger generation that doesn’t adhere to rigid binaries (for more, see the Innovation Group’s Gen Z survey).

Gender-neutral toy marketing continued in 2016 and spread to clothes, furniture and more.

–In April, Mattell launched its first line of female superhero dolls called “DC Super Hero Girls.” Meanwhile, retailers including the Wonder Crew Buddies created dolls for boys.

–Celebrities including Ellen Degeneres and Jaime King launched gender-neutral clothing lines aimed at children.

–Target’s new kid’s line Cat & Jack also features unisex options. Pillowfort, the chain’s line of bedroom furnishings, skews towards “greater variety, more universal options that could fit in either a little boy’s room or little girl’s room,” a spokesperson told Mashable.

Toca Boca, a Scandinavian company that makes gender-neutral apps for children, is now one of the largest developers of apps for kids, second only to Disney.


In last year’s trend report, we predicted that algae could make its mark as the next sustainable superfood—if consumers could overcome the “ick” factor. Thrive’s algae oil had just hit the market, a low-fat cooking oil without “any of the flavor ‘baggage’ you’d expect.”

Algae entered the superfood canon in 2016 as health-conscious consumers looked for new ways to enhance their bodies through food.

–Thrive’s algae oil was featured on Today and Vice, who reported “the world will probably be a better place once it does make the crossover based solely on the fact that you can get 425 gallons of the stuff in just one acre of land.”

Blue Majik brought spirulina, a blue-green algae, to the health food sphere. The powder, which features six times the antioxidants of blueberries, showed up in health smoothies and juices like Holy Water.

–In Australia, Matcha Mylkbar makes a blue-green latte featuring spirulina powder.

–In Bangkok, startup EnerGai is harvesting spirulina on the roof of the Hotel Novotel Bangkok for use in the hotel’s cafe.

–Boston-based ENERGYbits appeared on Shark Tank selling a high-protein algae tablet for athletes.

Sound healing

In December 2015, we predicted that the coming year would see a rise in sound healing, a new form of relaxation and mindfulness practice useful for relaxation in which listeners tune in to the vibrations of tuning forks and singing bowls. If people were in need of new forms of relaxation a year ago, they’re even more motivated now after a year marked by dislocation and discord in many parts of the world.

While initially popular in Los Angeles and New York, sound healing has now grown worldwide and become more diverse:

–In Chester, United Kingdom, the local cathedral is offering a sound bath workshop that aims to “provide the perfect antidote to the stresses of Christmas this year.”

–The Conscious Dance Movement debuted in 2016 in Stockton, California. Participants dance to improvisational sounds from singing bowls, digeridoos and other unusual instruments. Organizers say “it’s about connecting to the prime source through rhythmic sound and vibrations.”

–The Daybreaker morning rave, which incorporates gong sound healing into its programming, moved into Hong Kong and other cities in 2016.

–In Santa Monica, California, Continuum Studio is combining sound healing with virtual reality and projected visuals in a more multisensory meditative experience.

–Sound healing began showing up in shamanic, “new age” rituals from Arizona to Miami Beach as wellness resorts and spas began to incorporate more practices rooted in ancient spirituality.

For more on new spiritual and health practices, download our Unreality report.

WEB Integratron Inside Hi Res
The Integratron

Molecular environment sensors

In last year’s Future 100, we noted that “new devices are helping consumers directly monitor chemical compounds, revealing hidden information about products and environments.” In 2016, the market matured and became more integrated with the wider tech industry:

–Uber Mexico will use CleanSpace Tag sensors from a UK company to offer “hyper-local air pollution information” for Mexico City.

–A December 2016 report by Research and Markets estimates that the environmental gas sensor market will grow from $361 million in 2017 to over $3 billion by 2027.

–San Francisco startup BreezoMeter is using Internet of Things technology to monitor and predict pollution levels across entire cities.

–Molecular sensor DietSensor, which aims to automatically track nutrients in food, will exhibit at CES 2017.

WEB High Res leaf

Download The Future 100: Trends and Change to Watch in 2017 for the key trends shaping culture and travel in the year ahead.

Please provide your contact information to continue. Detailed information on the processing of your personal data can be found in our Privacy Policy.

Related Content

Brand Guardian
In The Press

Brand Guardian, AI inclusive representation

Ezinne Okoro, our global chief equity, inclusion and diversity officer, shares with The Drum how inclusivity is a key demand from clients.
Read More
The B2B Future Shopper 2021

The B2B Future Shopper Report 2021

An in-depth guide to the habits and preferences of B2B buyers across the UK, US and China
Read Article