8 trends that show where culture and commerce is heading

The Visions 2022 report from Future Commerce takes a critical look at the forces shaping digital shopping and discourse.

a takeaway of the Visions report

(Image courtesy of Future Commerce)

Map out ecommerce, and polar opposites quickly start to emerge. There's influence and distraction. There's art and technology. There's the transactional and spiritual. There's plurality and homogeneity.

It’s how they meet that determines where we’re heading.

That comes through in Visions 2022, a new report on consumer and culture trends from the retail and ecommerce media network Future Commerce.

Visions 2022 brings together 15 content creators, leaders and artists for candid conversations around the future of commerce. The report grapples with the forces that are shaping digital shopping, and our lives with technology more broadly. Overarching themes emerge: When it comes to customer experience, the report posits that web commerce is poorer for having a single dominant platform in the ecosystem. When it comes to trends and internet culture, it points out how algorithms are growing more powerful, and considers what will happen when people take steps to subvert them.

The 100-page report aims to broaden how we think about commerce, creating a space for ideas where Aristotle, John Keats, Glossier Founder Emily Weiss and the Wendy’s Twitter account exist side-by-side. It also expands how to think about a trend report, offering visually captivating design and a thoughtful, original composition. Download the full report to take in the experience on its own terms. The series also includes a companion podcast and video series from the recently-held Future Commerce Visions Summit.

For a primer, here’s a look at key takeaways from each section:

The homogenization of experiences

In search of what works to drive results, ecommerce professionals seek best practices. But this has resulted in a digital landscape where ecommerce websites and platforms increasingly look the same. As a solution, Visions proposes “dork mode,” a design pattern that champions ways to allow loyal customers to engage with a brand in ways that feel like an “Easter egg.”

Keeping up with the Joneses

Fads run on familiar cycles in fashion, but they also apply to the software that businesses use to power ecommerce and the economy more broadly. Increasingly, decisions on which platforms and features to use are made with career paths and not product effectiveness in mind.

Plurality of identity

With the knowledge that our digital interactions leave a footprint, pseudonyms are increasingly being embraced by creators and commentators alike. This allows a person to have different behavior “modes,” and take on different voices in different channels.

The sacraments of commerce

Brands and religious groups are behaving in similar ways. Brand actions are becoming sacraments, while “cult brand enthusiasts” seek out the brands that deliver them in search of a higher form of consumerism that brings enlightenment. Algorithms guide the way.

The celebration of insincerity

With algorithms prizing engagement and meme culture growing, the irony of previous generations has given way to insincerity online. This has led brands to play a bigger role in public discourse through social media, but also removes nuance and action.

The profitability of distraction

The current media era brings a contest for attention that is increasingly divided between devices and channels. Tools like livestreaming and social commerce can embed ecommerce within these channels, yet it’s also worth remembering that in-store shopping and advertising are still growing ways to motivate buying.


Underlying social media is a hype culture that prizes products that many want to exist, but can’t or don't want to actually own. “When the solution is so perfect, so elegant, so impressive; but the problem is so banal, that’s romanticism,” the report says.

Our sh*tty robot future

The rise of automation in recent years has resulted in robots that don’t replace their human creators, but rather work alongside and often frustrate them. It points toward a semi-autonomous future in which interactions and tastes are shaped by machines. The report says that this will give way to a group of New Luddites, who rebel against the recommendation engines.


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