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“How do you envision the future of mankind to be like?”

Immediately, we start seeing flashes of airborne driverless cars gliding past us. We start visualising the robot surrogates from “I, Robot” doing our dishes and holding conversations with us. Words like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Internet of Things sprout up. Words which are well known but not well understood by most. We imagine the obese nations to keep getting more obese and individual privacy to be at a greater risk than ever before. Basically, everything that “Black Mirror” introduces to us with each episode.

But in this article I would like to highlight a couple of trends that I have personally noticed in the Indian society which exist today and not just mere manifestation of ideas planted in our heads through mass media. These observations are personal and restricted to my enclosed experience in the country. Businesses of tomorrow are formed based on trends of tomorrow that are taking shape today. So I believe some future start ups can be based on some of these developments in the country today.

  • We are moving towards aggregation step by step and not all that gently. With saturation and competitive stronghold in the aggregators space forming a solid barrier to entry for new players, we are seeing emergence of aggregators of aggregators. To be “less” technical, the terms “aggregator” and “market place” can be used interchangeably here. To corroborate with an example, let’s take the travel industry. Online travel booking companies like GoIbibo and Makemytrip did an incredible job over the past decade bringing all travel services on to a single platform. But, even this amount of consolidation could not appease the appetite of the insatiable online Indians who could never be sure if they are losing out on a better deal on another website. Enter Trivago. Now we have a market place for market places. What MMT and GoIbibo did with others is now being done with them. Margins are shrinking as levels of consolidation get stacked one over the other. How many times have we got into the discussion about which one between Ola and Uber is cheaper? We might not have to wait long for a direct comparison between all, using a Trivago – like app for our daily commute by road. There are several other instances of aggregation evidenced in the spurt of companies in the local services and daily tasks space such as JustDial, UrbanClap, Dunzo and Housejoy. There is always chatter in the industry to move towards complete aggregation ultimately where an individual would like to obtain all services through one single platform. Facebook, identified as having the largest user base and being an integral part of life in the 21st century, is being used as a platform to eventually turn into the ultimate aggregator with the help of chatbots for all services.
  • The men and women of today are turning back the clock and moving closer to nature and a more organic diet. I think we are witnessing a gradual but definite turnaround. All the years of rebuke for developing unhealthy habits and sources of entertainment can relax a little. I think we are on the brink of transformation into a more mature and learned people. This fact is proven by the decision of most FMCG giants in the industry to divert a bigger share of their funds to R&D for healthier and more nutritional products. Whether it is cookies or cereal or even aerated drinks, all brands are moving towards a more health centric proposition to gain mind share of customers today. The health conscious mindset is reverberated through the success of products which did not exist in the market until a few years ago such as Oats and smart fitness bands or brands like Patanjali. Let’s take the popular choice for recreation these days. We need not go further than our Instagram feed to answer this. Hit by the travel bug, “Wanderlust” is in the air. The enthralling set ups in nightclubs and pubs are not captivating enough for youngsters today. More and more people prefer to party outdoors now. There has been a huge spike in demand for trekking and camping and accompanying tour packages. Although these are not exactly “Man vs Wild” adventures as modern amenities make these trips almost as luxurious and comfortable as staying in a resort, it is still very much an unforced choice by people to explore the natural beauty away from the concrete jungles they are used to.

These two broad trends can be broken down into a plethora of sub trends which have opened up a variety of new doors in 2017. Our race stays as unpredictable as ever, turning to healthier alternatives when expected to spring towards their doom with the advent of laze inducing technology and at the same time, sticking to the expected norm by welcoming a more lazy option of aggregation. I guess we will have to wait till the end of 2018 to find out the accuracy of my clairvoyance.

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