Forward Thinking

A new phase of creativity

Humane pin 2

From easier processes to innovations that defy pre-existing boundaries, technology has enabled designers, makers and artists to craft better user experiences, reach younger generations, improve mental health, and develop meaningful brand-to-consumer connections.

Across industries from luxury and automotive to gaming, travel and health, new and emerging technologies are changing these sectors and, in turn, designers are implementing these tools to reach the future faster.


The future of automotive is not technology. In a world of EV oversupply, the road ahead is brand experience.

While the global chip shortage continues to abate, attention needs to shift to another easement: vehicle unit demand. At its peak in 1970, vehicle production outpaced population growth by a record of 2:1. Now, as we look ahead to 2030, the tables will have entirely reversed: a 13 per cent increase in population, a 29 per cent decrease in car production.

As the automotive industry increasingly shares commonality with Big Tech, it’s not surprising to learn that the smartphone category has followed a similar pattern in which we can learn from:

  • Peak unit demand followed by an explosion of new competitor brands into the category;
  • An ensuing oversupply of choice for the consumer;
  • Swift consolidation towards brands with compelling ecosystem-offerings;
  • Leaders driving record growth as they grab market share;
  • All while the overall category demand diminishes 14 per cent from a peak of five years ago.

On the road ahead, the need to be the one winning market share couldn’t be more acute. Similarly in automotive, it will not be the technological advancements that make the difference, but the brand, how the brand connects with customers, and the value it adds outside of the product.

Values over volume

The future won’t be all about the pursuit of larger platforms, larger cars, and larger carrying space as it once was. The brands with a set of values which resonate with the cultural needs of the audience will be the ones winning the share of wallets to come. Which brands are helping consumers make a smaller footprint? Which brands are helping solve mobility needs into the future of ever-crowded urban dwelling? Which brands are the best reflection of the values of the next generation?

It is no surprise that one of the sought after automotive brands today is Volvo Cars. With annual sales up a whopping 45 per cent over the past decade, Volvo has transformed its legacy of safety. A company cannot protect people without protecting the planet. That’s why, in partnership with AKQA, Volvo’s EX30 was positioned as the ‘small car with a big impact’. Tapping into the macro-trend of small living allowed Volvo to have value-based conversations with their customers and connect with them on an emotional level. But, more importantly, the concept of a small car with a big impact guided the entire ecosystem and experience.

No details, no forgiveness

Gone are the days where a brand could transmit its purpose to the world on one dominant channel alone. As the next generation of audiences only grow in digital sophistication, the expectations to get it right across every interface grow as well. AKQA’s work with Rolls-Royce Motor Cars aims to deliver just that. In a pursuit to deliver uncompromising craft, always and all ways, the entire suite of digital experience must be accounted for with precision: a seamless digital platform, campaigns, social media, owners-only digital concierge services, bespoke in-car digital experience, member communications, press, events, dealer and retail. With annual leads now up 18 per cent and engagement up 44 per cent, it shows that luxury – once limited to the build and manufacture of the vehicle – now extends into a modern client and driver experience more than ever.

From pixel to percussion

The move to electric opens new possibilities for creating brand experiences in the car for another simple reason: cars are no longer noisy. For a brand like Porsche, that is known for the sound of the engine, this poses a threat to the brand experience. To overcome this threat Porsche has acoustic experts working hand in hand with engineers to create the future soundscape of an electric Porsche.

The road ahead will undoubtedly be filled with a continuing plethora of technological advancements: autonomous driving, assisted driving, flexible mobility and enhanced connectivity. However, more important than the technology will be the way brands deliver differentiating brand experiences as consumers move from A to B.


The most important change coming to gaming isn’t VR, AR, Web3, generative AI or subscription services. It’s a demographic shift representing a seachange in the relationship between games and their audiences.

Gaming is subject to an endless parade of buzzwords, catchphrases and jargon. There are countless articles and video essays covering the exciting technology that will enable the next generation of interactive entertainment experiences dreamed up by the incredible creative and technical minds at work around the world.

The outdated concept of a stereotypical gamer has long been shattered

The landscape has fundamentally changed as Generation Z has come into its own. Representing nearly a third of the global population, Generation Z has rendered ‘the gamer’ a pointless label because the overlap of those two audiences is nearly complete.

Gaming is central to the identity of Generation Z: 95 per cent play video games in some capacity and 87 per cent report playing video games weekly or more often. Survey after survey reveals how gaming is embedded at the core of their virtual and realspace socialisation, having provided the connective tissue to friends and communities even before Covid-19 cemented its role in their lives.

These virtual experiences – whether social or solo – are where they feel their most authentic, with 57 per cent of Generation Z reporting they feel more free to express themselves in games versus real life.

As Generation Z grows in influence, gaming will no longer be a hobby but rather the central source for and participation platform of popular culture. Yet many brands still view gaming as merely a means to reach a valuable audience and engage accordingly, generating slight changes to the familiar hollow partnerships, replaceable sponsorships and forgettable activations.

Becoming an active participant in gaming culture

It is clear, therefore, that brands seeking to engage in the future of gaming must shift their strategy towards understanding the nuances of the gaming community, respecting its values, and contributing positively to its ecosystem. That’s not an easy task for all brands, particularly for those new to the gaming space.

Brands must determine how they can bring value to and create opportunities for Generation Z through games and the culture around them. In the same way that Generation Z looks at games as a way to present their authentic selves, brands should consider how they can show up authentically when participating.

Success requires persistent investment

There is no one-and-done success in the gaming space. Gaming means too much to Generation Z for them to let even the biggest brands simply buy their way into the culture. Brands must show commitment, but they should also seize the opportunity to test, engage and innovate with communities to find the best, most genuine way to participate.

The future of gaming is intrinsically tied to the rise of Generation Z and their unique relationship with this medium. Brands that can successfully engage with this audience in a meaningful way stand to benefit from deep connections with a highly engaged, loyal and influential consumer base. Ultimately, the future of gaming isn't just about new technologies or platforms. It's about people. And for brands willing to embrace this change, it’s GGWP.

Health and wellness

2023 was a busy year in the multi-trillion dollar health and wellness sector. With 9 out of 10 Americans practising self care, and Generation Z prioritised their wellness in choices small and large, from Everything Showers to choosing to eat plant-based food.

Likewise, 2023 was a busy year in the budding artificial intelligence sector. A 2023 landscape analysis suggests an upwards of 1,000 per cent increase in growth in the sector. There are over 2,000 AI companies operating within the AI space. OpenAI alone has 100 million active users.

Artificial intelligence, similar to health and wellness, is attracting younger consumers. With a combined spending power in the trillions of dollars, they are critical audiences for the success of any AI-powered device being sold to the masses. According to GWI, they have the most affinity towards new technology.

So, why bring the topic of artificial intelligence into a commentary on health and wellness? Over the past year, AKQA has worked closely with Humane founders Imran Chaudhri and Bethany Bongiorno on the go-to-market campaign for the first-to-market wearable AI-powered device: the Ai Pin. Humane leverages OpenAI to bring this intelligent technology to audiences globally in the form of a small, screenless, handsfree pin. Why? According to our clients, the answer lies in health and wellness reasons.

Humane was founded on the principle that we all deserve more from technology. The company believes in building “technology that improves the human experience and is born from good intentions” and “products that put us back in touch with ourselves, each other, and the world around us”.

An immersion back with life itself

This has proven to be a healthier lifestyle than one stuck on a screen. We know that an immense amount of screen time can negatively impact everything from your mood to your sleep cycles. Importantly, a reduction in screen time allows for a boost in mental health. Products such as the Ai Pin will shift culture away from the race for attention that has permeated society as of late. Fuelled by social media and triggered by screen addiction, mental health crumbled so much recently that in May 2023, the U.S. General Surgeon declared the state of children's mental health in the U.S. a national crisis. We must shift from an attention economy, to an immersive, intimate economy in which technology strengthens oneself rather than deteriorates it.

The average human spends over seven hours a day on a screen

Now, we no longer have to. Artificial intelligence allows for a greater user experience with the one thing that matters the most: life. We know that over the years to come, many personal devices leveraging AI will be brought to market. We also now know that with a little effort, this new, rapidly evolving technology can be used for good: for the health and wellness of oneself and the world within which we live.


Durability and quality will become the backbone of trust and value in luxury, whilst creativity will be reinvented.

What next? This is what clients are asking us, and luxury is no stranger to this question. In many ways, the luxury industry is leading deep structural innovation, thanks to high margins but also due to a long-standing belief in the power of creativity and craft.

Working on a new type of transformation, we are right at the intersection of storytelling, technology, innovation and client relationships. The underlying innovation is product traceability, in particular leveraging the AURA blockchain consortium. In short, once purchased, products can be certified in the blockchain, as a proof of ownership, authenticity or whatever knowledge the brand chooses.

This new technology, simple in the idea, much more complex in the execution and implementation, is fascinating as it opens multiple possible futures for brands. First, it allows brands to bring directly to the client an immutable certification of their product, elevating trust and warranty to the next level, and creating a direct link to the brand from the product. Second, it allows for personal storytelling, in the case of Loro Piana, connecting the client to the vertical craft journey from animal to final fabric and piece of garment. A new way to bring to life the unique brand craft down to a single SKU to the end user, creating a unique bond and building deep brand knowledge.

Product care and repair is simplified, allowing the brand and the client to have a recording of all previous interaction and interventions on the product. For a little short-term hype and to tap into new communities brands can add to the certificate a unique NFT co-created with a relevant artist, the product becomes the pass to a broader brand experience.

New business opportunities for luxury brands

After years of manufacturing new products, leading players need to re-establish their unique quality and craft. By owning traceability leading brands will be able to reclaim and own directly the secondhand market which is projected to increase in the first quarter of 2024. What in the past has been a missed opportunity – and a missed profit – will potentially become a new line of business.

Next to new well-crafted products, we will see an increase in the second-hand stream, or perhaps as it may be more favourably referred to as collector’s items, that people will be able to buy from previous owners but with the guaranteed certification and traceability provided by the brand, responsible for durable quality, and reclaiming the product life cycle and transaction.


Personalised, differentiated experiences with AI as the co-pilot.

The travel industry continues to explore the new technologies available to them that create loyalty with travellers and drive premium revenue. They are also keenly aware of their shifting audiences and the considerations those travellers make when choosing whom to book from.

As part of overall recovery efforts from the Covid-19 pandemic, brands across all of travel have their attention focused towards creating more personalised experiences – a differentiator yet to be truly owned by any one travel brand. From creating onboard airline experiences where the seatback screen knows who you are, your preferences and what movie you need to finish from your last flight to pervasive WiFi experiences that remember who you are no matter what hotel location you are in, removing the friction from experiences that do not recognise a traveller is job number one.

The needs of a modern traveller are driving digital transformation

We are seeing a great acceleration towards digital customer service. With AI as co-pilot, travel brands have begun offering new approaches to self-service to resolve issues in real-time, a particular benefit for the Generation Z traveller who does not expect to have to call in and wade through multiple system prompts to change their flight to a time that better suits their needs.

Rising priorities like sustainability, particularly for Generation Z and people younger who are more conscious than ever of their environmental impact, and with a blend of business and leisure travel mean the overall experience needs to be better, it needs to understand the traveller and also provide flexible experiences that recognise them along the way. This will allow people to curate their own journey and create as little friction as possible while establishing trust as the travel partner of preference. The brands that will focus on these overarching experience needs will earn a larger share of travellers’ spend and, ultimately, create a more bespoke experience that truly understands the audience.

We envision a future in which industrious technological innovation not only enhances and mediates but seamlessly integrates with human experiences and enables faster progress.

A version of this article was first published by It’s Nice That as part of the 2024 Forward Thinking series.

Written by

Romain Lartigue, Managing Director

AKQA Europe

Ed Davis, Director of Client Services

AKQA Washington DC

Ron Peterson, Managing Partner

AKQA London

Miriam Plon Sauer, Executive Strategy Director, EMEA

AKQA Copenhagen

Emma Riley, Strategy Director

AKQA Bloom

Roman Ptakowski, Managing Partner

AKQA Atlanta