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#BizTrends2020: Pop culture and its drivers in 2020

When it comes to the youth segment, the drivers of popular culture hinge on their expression of themselves within the Zeitgeist, and are often a rebellion and reaction against the dominant forces trying to shape them.
rett Rogers, culture lead at Cape Town advertising agency HaveYouHeard and content curator for In_

Below are several of those forces that will be relevant in 2020, together with an example of how they are creating a popular culture reaction.

  • VUCA:


    The experience of the world as a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous place causes a feeling of being overwhelmed and threatened.

    Amid the chaos, Vuca is the new normal in SA

    Vuca - the acronym for volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity - is the new normal within the South African political context, said policy specialist, Theo Venter...

    By Nicci Botha 12 Sep 2018


    The pop culture response is (1) to create friendly, fun, bright and colourful expressions, as well as (2) to embrace nostalgia in forms of dress, music choices, hair and make-up, and so on.

    Nostalgia is also driven by us preferring to look back rather than forward into an uncertain future.

  • Ugly is boss:


    Camera filters, Instagram and the likes of the Kardashians have created unrealistic expectation and pressure with respect to the perfect look. Popular culture is responding with a celebration of ugly, anti-beauty and alternative visions of what is attractive. People are embracing flaws with a sigh of relief.

  • Woke:


    Being woke is now outdated and expected. Social Justice Warriors have effectively used social media to create an explosion of awareness on issues that (truly or falsely) threaten humanity.

    SA's advertising industry needs to 'woke' up

    What does it mean to be 'woke'? For us, being woke is an agenda to be strong out loud, to be deliberate...

    Issued by M&C Saatchi Abel 5 Jun 2019


    Most of these are accurate and just, and citizens worldwide are becoming active and concerned about global issues, such as economic and environmental policies and practices.

  • Ideology identifying:


    Value badging became virtue signalling and is now becoming ideology identifying, as issues become mainstream. Pop culture influencers are taking sides, expressing this through their creations (fashion, music, food etc…)

  • The rise of the East:


    The rising dominance of The East has meant that for the first time ever, more brands were consumed in the Eastern hemisphere than in the West. Asia is influencing more and more of global culture from K-Pop to Korean Beauty, to design trends and lifestyle philosophy.

    Why South Korea is the next big destination for SA travellers

    Worldwide sensation BTS has put South Korea on the map for travellers from all over the world...

    By Maroefah Smith 28 Aug 2019


    Witness 2019’s Rugby World Cup in Japan. The rugby playing nations and their fan-followers fell in love with what they were exposed to. Expect the impact to be magnified with Japan hosting the Summer Olympics and China the Winter Olympics in 2020.

  • Local is lekker:


    Local is lekker is no longer a cliché as we see a trend we call ‘community provenance’ on the rise. Here, people identify with the community and neighbourhood that made them. Small brands and culture-led starts up are gaining traction by proudly representing their communities and people just like them.

  • Space and sci-fi:


    Sexy during the Space Race, sci-fi dipped in popularity until 2018 but was revived as the likelihood of space travel in the near future became a reality, and China and Hollywood responded with a plethora of space movies.

    AI SpaceFactory wins NASA's 3D Printing Habitat Challenge Competition

    AI SpaceFactory, a multi-planetary architectural and technology design agency, has won the first prize in NASA's 3D Printing Habitat Challenge Competition. The team was awarded with a $500,000 prize by NASA for the successful construction of their Mars habitat named MARSHA...

    17 May 2019


    We are seeing the space aesthetic explode in NASA’s recent establishment as a regular pop culture resident, and Under Armours’ technical spacewear...

  • Smart flexing:


    Music videos are very honest reflections of popular culture and provide aspiration indicators. We conducted a study looking at popular local music videos from 2019 and how they have evolved from 2018. One of the key findings was a move towards a more responsible and down-to-earth image. There were fewer displays of sex and power, and more genuine displays of wholesomeness. This is in line with a growing trend we call ‘smart flexing’ – showing off intelligence rather than the more base desires.

  • Africa’s magnetism:


    It seems like everyone wants to own a piece of Africa’s creativity. From music to food to fashion, international demand for Africa’s product is growing internationally and it feels like the start of the hockey-stick curve.

    It's time for Africa to tell a new story

    Africa is perceived in a certain way because of the stories being told about it...

    By Mimi Kalinda 27 Sep 2018


    Africa is the final and last explored creative frontier – and with popular culture’s demand for authenticity, novelty and freshness – our continent offers at least a decade of discovery. About time!

About Brett Rogers

Brett Rogers, culture lead at Cape Town advertising agency HaveYouHeard and content curator for In_, a channel of content, which showcases cultural forces that are changing the world. It aims to inform, inspire and entertain the viewer and does so with multimedia posts, including podcasts, videos, google trends, mini Q+A's and more. in_ talks to those interested in in-depth cultural exploration and those curious about the world we live in.
Don't miss BizTrendsLive!2020, a showcase of the biggest trends shaping our region!



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