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As a new decade begins, so too does a fresh era of trends with the potential to disrupt the status quo in business and society.Add in a global pandemic that has forced rapid and possibly long-lasting adjustments to everyday life, and the potential for major disruption and change multiplies. So how should investors consider trends, ranging from 3D bioprinting and the ageing population to facial recognition and the streaming economy, as they construct their portfolios?

To assist those investors thinking long term, Barclays’ Research analysts identified 150 thematic trends across six broad paradigms, including: 1) Technology & Innovation; 2) Consumer, Food & Retail; 3) Industrials, Manufacturing & Transportation; 4) Health & Modern Science; 5) Energy & Environment and 6) Society & Culture. The team then analysed the degree to which each of these trends will likely impact society by 2030.

Subsequently, the team has reevaluated each trend in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, assessing the extent to which the pandemic could alter the evolution of the 150 trends previously identified. They think nearly half will be affected, with trends relating to healthcare, supply chains, automation and public safety poised to accelerate in the post-COVID world. While these are not predictions, they provide food for thought as investors begin to shape portfolios for the coming decade.

Our analysis marks the 2020s as the decade of decarbonisation (Clean Tech & Renewable Infrastructure), the acceleration of enabling technology (5G, AI & IoT), ongoing demographic shifts (Global Ageing & Urbanisation), the rise of the conscious consumer (Healthy Living & the Circular Economy) and the shift towards a smart society (Predictive Healthcare & Smart Cities).

2030 Thematic Roadmap. Download the 150 Trends Roadmap & COVID effects posters (PDF, 166KB)

Trends to watch:

Technology & Innovation

25 trends emerged in the area of ‘Technology & Innovation’, which is defined as disruptive and emerging technology that fulfils unaddressed needs and/or solves global problems. This includes the underlying technologies themselves, as well as adjacent products and services. It also covers trends likely to disrupt commerce, launch new markets, change consumer experiences and bring data privacy concerns to a boil.

COVID-19 has already accelerated a variety of trends in this space, such as Education Technology and Digital payments & FinTech, and will likely accelerate others ranging from 5G to eSports.

Digital Ethics & Privacy and Service & Delivery Robots are trends to watch from an ESG or sustainability investing perspective, as we expect greater corporate social responsibility for consumer data and shifting labor roles.

25 trends to watch this decade in Technology & Innovation
25 trends to watch this decade in Technology & Innovation

Source: Barclays Research

Consumer, Food & Retail

27 trends emerged in the areas of ‘Consumer, Food & Retail’, which encompass new products and services within the consumer space, as well as manufacturing processes and systems that facilitate the development of sustainable food value chains. Trends related to personalisation, consumer convenience, consumer sentiment and the subsequent shifting value of goods and services, and new or adapted industry standards and regulations are all represented.

Many trends in this space have already been widely affected by the pandemic, with the Streaming Economy and Direct-to-Consumer among those accelerating now while trends such as Experiential Retail and Digital Detox are experiencing a deceleration effect.

From an ESG or sustainability perspective, keep an eye on Clean Label & Ingredient Transparency, Digital Detox, Food Waste and Sustainable Packaging.

27 trends to watch this decade in Consumer, Food & Retail
27 trends to watch this decade in Consumer, Food & Retail

Source: Barclays Research

Industrials, Manufacturing & Transportation

22 trends emerged covering new technology and new business models in Industrials, Manufacturing & Transportation, including the development of new materials, future modes of transportation and the application of emerging technology to infrastructure projects. Beyond these, trends related to mobility, new markets like Space, and the application of emerging technology to manufacturing and construction also feature.

The effect of COVID-19 on trends in this space is mixed. Our analysts expect that smart cities and buildings, micromobility and localized manufacturing may see a boost, while shared mobility and overseas infrastructure investment may flag.

Top of mind for ESG or sustainability-focused investors will likely be Textile & Fabric Innovation and Industrial Robotics.

22 trends to watch this decade in Industrials, Manufacturing & Transportation
22 trends to watch this decade in Industrials, Manufacturing & Transportation

Source: Barclays Research

Health & Modern Science

In the areas of ‘Health & Modern Science’, 22 trends point toward a future where our healthcare is monitored and provided continuously, wherever we are. Many trends in this space are likely to experience sustained acceleration given the global health crisis at hand, which is changing how (e.g. robotic surgery) and where (e.g. remote patient monitoring) healthcare services are delivered. What’s more, new technologies will fundamentally change how we prevent, diagnose and cure diseases, as well as enable efficiencies, such as AI radiology. Healthcare data will enable new services to reach the mainstream. Beyond technological advancements, regulation, public funding related to healthcare, and large-scale societal trends – both positive (e.g. wellness economy) and negative (e.g. the opioid epidemic) – round out the trends to watch.

US Healthcare Reform, Antimicrobial Resistance and Cloning are areas for ESG and sustainability-focused investors to watch.

22 trends to watch this decade in Health & Modern Science
22 trends to watch this decade in Health & Modern Science

Source: Barclays Research

Energy & Environment

In the areas of ‘Energy & Environment’, defined as the direct and indirect impact climate change is having on the environment and energy acquisition and production, 22 trends emerged. Beyond current threats to the environment and the attendant societal impact, these trends include a range of alternative energy sources, the infrastructure investment required to make them mainstream, the technologies that will enable smart management of that infrastructure and growing consumer awareness creating new market opportunities in these areas.

A handful of trends in this space are anticipated to accelerate post pandemic, including sustainable food systems and the circular economy. Our analysts do not foresee any trends in Energy & Environment decelerating.

ESG and sustainability-focused investors have no shortage of trends to watch in this space: Clean Water & Sanitation, Climate Migration, Energy Poverty and Deforestation.

22 trends to watch this decade in Energy & Environment
22 trends to watch this decade in Energy & Environment

Source: Barclays Research

Society & Culture

The 30 trends captured within the paradigm ‘Society & Culture’ include overarching societal trends that are influenced by political, cultural and economic factors. These include ongoing demographic change and contemporary societal issues, ranging from automation in education to the future of work, new business models to the distribution of resources, political fragmentation to trade wars, and new market opportunities that may result from such change.

The coronavirus pandemic is expected to accelerate a variety of trends here: Deglobalisation, Lifelong Learning and Social Credit Systems, to name a few.

Women’s Empowerment, Obesity, Malnutrition, Societal Inequality and Environmental Protection are all trends which ESG and sustainability-minded investors will be watching.

30 trends to watch this decade in Society & Culture
30 trends to watch this decade in Society & Culture

Source: Barclays Research

Peering into the future

Our analysts acknowledge that some of the trends noted above are relatively speculative, while others are well known or build on risks that have already begun to form. To better understand how these trends are already being discussed by companies, our Data & Investment Sciences teams scanned tens of thousands of corporate transcripts dating back to 2001 for mentions of the 150 trends.

As shown most clearly in the “Trends Cluster Analysis” poster (download below), our analysts' hierarchical clustering algorithm grouped the trends into clusters, providing insights into the frequency and evolution of trend mentions, concurrent trends and cross-sector impacts. Three mega-clusters emerged: Digital; Energy; and Consumer & Society. While trends relating to Digital and Energy are being discussed extensively by corporates already, many of the ESG and sustainability trends highlighted above see limited corporate discussion today. However, we expect the frequency of corporate discussion and sector breadth of ESG trends to increase through 2030.

Trends Cluster Analysis. Download the poster (PDF, 60KB)

Read the full reports

Authorised clients of Barclays Investment Bank can log in to Barclays Live to read the full reports:

Report includes a thematic library of related publications from the Sustainable & Thematic Investing and individual sector teams across Barclays Research.

Report includes 100 stocks under coverage believed to have exposure to the COVID lens.

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About the analysts

Hiral Patel is the Head of Sustainable & Thematic Investing, Equity Research. Hiral joined the team in June 2018 following five years covering the European Technology, Payments and FinTech sector. Prior to that, Hiral qualified as a Chartered Accountant with KPMG, where she worked in Audit covering Financial Services. Hiral graduated from the University of Warwick with a degree in Economics, Politics and International Studies.

Ben McSkelly, PhD, is an analyst in the Investment Sciences team in London, a group that creates investment insights by combining alternative data, data science, and traditional research. Prior to joining Barclays in 2018, Ben worked as a Technology and Support Services analyst at Shore Capital. Ben received his PhD in Particle Physics from the University of Liverpool in 2015, working at the international CERN laboratory in Switzerland.

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