In the year just past, America’s fault lines of race, class, ideology and villainy rumbled menacingly. Combined with last year’s bitter winter and balmy December, weak stocks and wobbly economy, and raucous rhetoric about immigration and terrorism, it is understandable if the year to come seems uncertain, even grave. But don’t sound the alarm just yet. In this annual look at the year ahead, J. Walker Smith, Chief Knowledge Officer of Kantar Consulting, offers a different view of the marketplace. Even with the certainties of slowing economic growth and strident electioneering, belonging not division is the dominant motive force in the marketplace. In an era of ever more ad-blocking, the opportunity for brands is not to camouflage ads as content but to embed the principles of belonging in every micro-moment of consumer engagement. This FutureView explores the promise of the year ahead, make some predictions about what’s to come, and outline a framework for connecting with consumers longing for belonging.

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