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Forecasts for the Future

July 11, 2011

Imagine you had the ability to peer into the future; to see trends that would shape shopping and eating habits. These, in turn, will influence retail response on numerous levels.  No doubt you’d jump right on that.

Of course, there’s simply no way to know exactly what the future will bring. But, there are ways of extrapolating today’s trends to forecast upcoming challenges and opportunities.

Connecting the Dots Between Food & Health: Expanding the Market for Retail Grocery provides companies an incredible tool for crystal ball-gazing in a useful and realistic way. This 2008 study — created for the Coca‑Cola Retailing Research Council by the Institute for the Future (IFTF) http://www.iftf.org/ — is one of the most unusual and provocative documents many retailers may ever see.

The study features a map, dotted with seven large circles representing major forecasts developed by IFTF that highlight intersections of powerful issues tying the food industry to healthier eating, technology and lifestyle trends. Compiled through wide-ranging interviews and focus groups, the map is designed to stimulate discussion within organizations about how to prepare for the days ahead.

Consider one forecast: Anytime, Anyplace Health. It suggests that consumers will manage their health on the go, at work, at home, in the gym, at a doctor’s office or a supermarket. This prediction supports the insight that people will shop with health management on their minds as they make product purchase decisions.  Such behavior could drive an action step such as optimizing store design for the wellness experience.

Meant as a conversation starter, the report includes a meeting discussion guide around each forecast. Better yet, let it provoke you to build your own insights for the future.  Share them here and let’s see what other ideas come up.

Michael Sansolo
Research Director
Coca‑Cola Retailing Research Council