Zukunft 2016

It’s the first day of the year, a time for planning and anticipating. What can we expect from 2017?


“Uneven and unspectacular” are the words used by economists polled by Reuters poll in December of 2016 to describe the economic outlook for 2017. The Reuters poll says economist sentiment run counter to current investor optimism with the global forecast growth for 2017 at 3.2 percent as a result of expected suboptimal Asian growth. 

In a 21 December article, points out that eight years after the onset of the global crisis, central banks continue to use loose monetary policies (notably low interest rates) to support economic growth while risking distortion in asset markets. FE’s poll of analysts show a consensus estimate of  2.9 percent world economic growth in 2017, slightly higher than the estimated 2.5 percent in 2016. 

FE’s estimate echoes a similar trend from the International Monetary Fund  World Economic Outlook released October 2016. IMF’s WEO projected a slight rise in 2017 growth to 3.4 percent from its 2016 estimate of 3.1 percent. The FE’s lower estimate reflects the World Bank’s midyear 2016 downward revision of estimated 2016 growth to 2.4 percent from its January estimate of 2.9 percent.

The Conference Board, a global business membership and research association, forecasts a continuation of what it calls the current trend of stagnation. Their base scenario reflects most published economic analyses, inputting the effect of stabilized prices in energy and commodities, and positive effects of qualitative growth factors such as advanced technology and increased productivity, tempered by weaker growth in key inputs of investment and labor. The Conference Board echoes many analysts and organizations by pointing out pressure coming from increased political and economic uncertainties, which could have the effect of delaying large investment decisions by both governments and private sector. Across the board, the outlooks for 2017 point to the same cautions: Brexit and Europe; Trump and the US; China concerns; conflict and political uncertainty in many countries. 

The World Bank growth forecasts for East Asia are much rosier, with China expected to transition to a 6.5 percent growth and the rest of the region to grow at 5 pervent. Developing East Asia is expected to grow at 5.8 percent. The Philippine economy is expected to grow 6.2 percent by both WB and the Asian Development Bank. 

Consumer Trends 

Let’s focus on the thoughts of my favorite trend watcher. Trendwatching’s top five trends for 2017 begins with virtual experiences, essentially a follow-on to its forecast of the maturing of virtual reality being a strong undercurrent for 2016. This trend ups the ante on what is already a very strong real experience economy. In this strange new world, experience is valuable not just for entertainment, it accrues status. Simply think of how social media sites have become a means for sharing experiences from travel to new restaurants. More importantly, TW explains that individual choices will become “even stronger statements about who they are” as individuals. In this new world, time will become the scarcest resource of the consumer and entertainment is no longer the key source of value.

TW’s second trend echoes geopolitics and the ongoing power shifts and conflicts between those who call for increased connectedness, the emerging global citizen, and those who cry for nationalism and separateness. For managers and marketers, this echoes the challenge that has always been apparent to multinationals, that balancing of global outlook and imperatives with local realities.

TW’s third trend is something that would make many marketers quake in their boots—the return of the anonymous consumer, arising from the need to be treated equally regardless of demographic. The last two trends continue two larger trends: sustainability and the increasing pervasiveness of technology. The former is simple, the capture of underutilized capability in order to create fresh value—something I have been researching and writing about for many years now within the area of corporate social innovation. The final trend is both exciting and scary. It involves the increased technological capability to gather individualized information in order to create individualized service. 

Meanwhile, the folk at Ericsson have released their list of the top 10 consumer trends for 2017, which begins with the statement that the internet is now comprised of 70 percent video traffic. The report includes many interesting factoids. The number of people willing to have and AI as an advisor for work now exceeds those who are unwilling. Three fourths of smartphone users believe multiple wearables and sensors will help them better interact with other devices. Two in five believe smartphones will eventually learn their habits and perform certain functions automatically. One out of three individuals state that social networks are their prime source of news, reflecting an increased reliance on social networks which creates social silos. 

The folk at Euromonitor also had some interesting statistics for those wanting to understand the new consumer. The median age of the global population in 2017 will be 30.1 (up from 27.9 in 2007). 3.5 million people will go online for the first time each week in 2017. In 2016, card payments (44.1 percent) outstripped cash (43 percent) as the largest payment source (by value) for the first time.


So that’s 2017. It will continue to be a world dominated on the one hand by local politics and on the other, by technology. Consumers will want to both be better known as well as more anonymous. It’s going to be a great ride.

Frohes Neujahr!

Zukunft is the German word for future. It is a concatenation of the root words “zu” meaning “to” and “kunft” which comes from the German word “Kommen” meaning “to come”. Hence it literally means what is still to come. 

Readers can email Maya at [email protected]  Or visit her site at

Topics: Maya Baltazar Herrera , Zukunft 2016
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