Here Are My Picks for the People and Places to Watch in 2016

Posted on December 15, 2015 by Marian Salzman

Gilles Tarabiscuité

[Originally posted on Forbes.com.]

Even as trends reports for the coming year have all been wrapped up and shared around, a trendspotter’s work carries on. Scouting what’s next requires always keeping an eye open and an ear to the ground, and pattern recognition helps a lot—who or what is getting buzzed about where?

This vocation is as much art as science, and not every item on a what-to-watch list is going to take off. But several of them just might take over the world. We’ll see what happens with the list I just compiled, “11 Trends for 2016,” with my agency, Havas PR. Our übertrend for next year: a sense of unease (and fear) pervading much of life, giving everyone a lingering feeling that things aren’t as they should be. Technology is central to that übertrend and serves as a running theme through the rest of the list, including renewables chic, the rise in apps and everything smart, and bigger audiences for virtual events than real ones.

It’ll be time for the 2017 report before I know it. Until then, here are more items catching my eye:

On the Radar

  • Watch two strong female governors, Nikki Haley of South Carolina and Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island (the state’s tourism agency is a client of Havas PR’s), emerge in the national spotlight and female senators like Kirsten Gillibrand become more prominent as that spotlight moves onto women. Similarly, the LZ Sunday Paper is set to become that much more important as the aggregator of women’s news for the thinking class.
  • Watch Cuban tourism (No. 2 on Skyscanner’s list), marijuana branding (as noted in the Motley Fool, among others) and dangers in Yemen become increasingly more talked-about.
  • Watch as the debate over rage killings will become so loud that gun control versus counterterrorism measures versus a demand for more mental health support becomes the backdrop for all
  • Watch for Malia Obama’s college choice (and her parents’ post–1600 Pennsylvania Ave. homestead selection). Whatever she chooses will become America’s It School.

People

Courtney Act: The “Australian Idol” semifinalist and “RuPaul’s Drag Race” runner-up is poised to become the world’s first big-time pop star in drag.

Jerrod Carmichael: The 27-year-old comedian behind NBC’s fan favorite “The Carmichael Show” is making race-conscious family television that people actually want to watch. Maybe this will be the answer to the trend of people watching separate shows on separate screens in separate rooms.

Julián Castro: The former mayor of San Antonio commanded plenty of trendspotters’ interest (including mine) in that role. Now the Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, he’s emerging as some commentators’ bet to be Hillary Clinton’s vice presidential candidate.

Cory Gardner: Time summed it up well: “The Colorado Senator showed how Republicans can win in a purple state in 2014 by countering attempts to paint him as unsupportive of women’s concerns. When the dust from the GOP primary settles, the eventual presidential candidate may follow his lead.”

Kamala Harris: The California attorney general is running for Barbara Boxer’s longtime seat. If she wins, she’ll break more color barriers: the first black and the first South Asian senator from California.

Alexa Karolinski: The filmmaker, whose clients include design houses like WREN, makes genre-bending videos that stand to make fashion films the new music videos.

Zane Lowe: The longtime BBC Radio 1 DJ leapt into digital this year when he signed on to anchor Apple’s foray into radio, Beats 1. Although it seemed to some like an odd move—haven’t we been saying for 35 years that something killed the radio star?—he has turned Beats 1 into a staging ground for big artists like Drake and small collectives like Soulection.

Places

Charlotte, N.C.: Downtown has a critical mass of young people; with 72 percent between the ages of 20 and 49, compared with 41 percent nationally. They’re drawn by a subtropical climate and high quality of life, minus the major sprawl of former Southern business epicenters like Atlanta. The city has upwards of 100 startups, an angel investor firm, collaborative workspaces, incubators and accelerators.

Providence, R.I.: This New England city (more disclosure: I have personal and professional ties here) topped Realtor.com’s recent list of the housing markets to watch in 2016. The rankings can be attributed to factors like growing household formation, a prosperous job market, and a large population of older millennials (25-34) and younger Gen Xers (35-44), according to Realtor.com.

Sacramento, Calif.: California’s boom isn’t only on the coast. Not only does Sacramento come up in Realtor.com’s list of the most promising real estate markets, but its quirky suburb Davis also landed on MarketWatch’s list of “top U.S. cities for hipsters,” thanks to ironic antics like a “hipster Western” involving two men dueling for a woman through text messages.

[photo: creativecommons.org/Gilles Tarabiscuité]

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