Download Crowd Signals: Sports Fandom & Activewear here

We’ve used our Crowd Signals Platform to track real-time signals within sports conversations around fandom and activewear, and this report is what we found to be uppermost in the minds and behaviour of people who are engaging in sports right now. 

The Crowd Signals Platform has advanced NLP, AI and machine learning capabilities (powered by to search social posts, forums, search engines, review sites, client sales and behavioural sets – and ultimately uncover meaningful stories of culture.

Read previous Crowd Signals: Psychedelic Heath here and Crowd Signals: Wellbeing Recharge here.

For this latest report, we looked at the data within the culture shifts of Finding Your Fandom and Fluid Expression – two of the nine macro subjects we track in real-time on the Crowd Signals Platform – and how the trends in these cultures linked to fan identity and activewear.

The big issues that are writ large are conversations about activism and women in sport, and how well-being and performance can work together.

The full report features what the 2023 data can reveal about: 

_ Playful dressing of sports brands, and the pairing of wellbeing and activewear

_ Activewear trends on TikTok 

_Female fandom’s impact on inclusivity and body positivity 

_What e-sports players most care about

_Brands who are staying relevant as fandom conventions change rapidly

So on your marks, get set, and go read Crowd Signals: Sports Fandom & Activewear.

Download Crowd Signals: Sports Fandom & Activewear here

Get in touch to find out more about how our Crowd Signals platform can help client challenges. Our AI powered and bespoke offering can be tailored to uncover culture shifts, trends and future opportunities from unstructured data.

In a chaotic cultural landscape, Crowd’s Rachel Rapp and Amy Nicholson present three mindsets that create opportunity in uncertainty…

The last few years have been turbulent across the globe. From climate paralysis and political fatigue, to the cost-of-living crisis and the impact of AI, chaos has become the new normal. Finding what’s good in permacrisis – Collins’s Dictionary word of the year, 2022 – can feel overwhelming.

Luckily, at Crowd DNA, we’re partial to a bit of chaos. As our fundamental human needs shift in response to uncertainty, how we interact with brands also changes, and we think that creates opportunity. Using trends analysis, semiotics and conversations with our KIN network, we’ve identified three mindsets that brands can adopt to make sense of the mayhem. These are: hand holding, distracting, or embracing uncertainty. 

You can get a taste of how to execute against each mindset below. It’s our introduction to how brands can show up for consumers in these incalculable times. There are certainly more mindsets out there to be defined – but we hope these begin to inspire you to think about what’s right for your brand. 

Three Mindsets To Meet Shifting Human Behaviour In Uncertain Times

1. Hand Holding 

Hand holding plays into our human needs for comfort and security. The trick is to offer reassurance and stability by grounding your brand’s touch points with scenes of everyday reality, universal experiences and simple language. While we typically see hand holding in fintech, banking and insurance (industries that are looking to support consumers during the cost-of-living crisis), we’re now seeing brands from other categories presenting themselves as reassuring and stable, too.

Hand Holding: How To…

_Dial up references to familiar rituals. We see this mindset in the Food Love Stories campaign from UK supermarket chain Tesco, emphasising everyday realities – eg a family barbecue. Meanwhile, at London Fashion Week, Burberry took over a London cafe to serve up comfort food (a surprising collision of egg and chips and designer fashion). Both brands are speaking to the need for security through relatability. 

_Incorporate community values and the idea of coming together. The Levi’s 2023 campaign was about people gathering at a funeral in their trusty 501 jeans, with themes of togetherness, support, and to give a sense of belonging.

_Offer a casual, friendly tone of voice. Ganni’s use of informal emoticons suggests a relatable, peer-to-peer relationship with consumers, while Ikea’s language of togetherness creates a sense of camaraderie that cultivates trust and connection.

2. Distraction 

There’s often a craving for distraction from the uncertainty, and brands can offer this with momentary escape. Playing with time – harking back to simpler eras, using nostalgia, or transporting us toward a brighter future – are key tropes within this mindset. After all, an escape from the present is the ultimate distraction from uncertain times. 

Distraction: How To…

_Emphasise intentionally retro aesthetics and allude to nostalgia. The latest design for toaster pastries, Pop-Tarts, is a nostalgia trip back to their iconic 1960s packaging, allowing consumers to be distracted from uncertain times with comforting memories of the past.

_Tap into the surreal. The wellbeing supplement brand, Dirtea, evokes dreamscape imagery that defies reality with a product that actually levitates and positions itself as a portal to a utopian world that distracts from the uncertain present by letting consumers escape.

_Reference futurism through digitised worlds. Coca Cola has catapulted us to the year 3000 with their new release that allows a taste of the future, created using AI, all while using 2023’s Colour of the Year: Digital Lavender. This emphasis on futurist realities invites us to disengage from the present moment.

3. Embracing

This is where brands are really getting stuck into the mess by either doubling down on difficult topics, or making light of uncertainty with relatable humour. Here, we see brands lean into the chaos, by being on the consumer’s side as they find light in the darkness. And, in the more extreme examples, challenging the status quo by forcing the audience to confront an uncomfortable and uncertain future. 

Embracing: How To…

_Get people laughing by playing with the bizarre. Heinz has released its first global ad campaign in 150 years celebrating ‘irrational love’ for the brand, like the idea of putting ketchup on ice-cream, or Heinz tattoos. Elsewhere, product comparison website, Compare The Market uses a witty tone of voice to parody the temperamental British weather. Both are finding humour in the unpredictable.

_Lean into the confrontational and uncomfortable. Balenciaga’s Mud S/S 2023 showcased a dirty, post-apocalyptic world, while Isamaya Beauty has recently presented an extreme otherworldly makeup style. These encourage us to rethink our current way of living by physically immersing us in the darker side of uncertainty.

_Reframe the narrative around uncertainty. The travel planner service, Journee Trips, plays with the language of excitement and mystery to maximise the idea of discovery and adventure; celebrating not knowing your destination until you reach the airport.

Which uncertainty mindset best fits your brand? Or do you tap into another mindset altogether during these turbulent times? To find out more about the opportunities within chaos, please get in touch.

In our latest issue of City Limits we head to Los Angeles as the city prepares to host two of the world’s biggest sports events in the next five years…

City Limits Volume 10 – download it here

For the tenth issue of City Limits – Crowd DNA’s ongoing exploration of the urban experience – we’re exploring sport as another lens to focus on city culture (read previous issues on themes such as mobility and the night economy here). But this time, things are a little different, as we turn our focus onto a single city for once. With the men’s World Cup in 2026 and the Olympic and Paralympic games in 2028 both taking place in LA, the city is uniquely placed to showcase sport today – and forecast how it could look next in our ever-evolving cities. 

These are going to be the first global sports events that Gen Alphas experience as young adults, and the world’s entertainment capital will surely know how to get their attention. Our City Limits reports on how preparations are taking place for this, and what it could look like both off-pitch and on…

The City Limits LA Sports issue combines Crowd DNA’s new research on the Future Of Sport with talking to people on the ground across the city itself, as well as looking at issues like the impact of big events for marginalized urban communities, and brand initiatives during big sports events.

The full 13-page report includes:

_27 emerging trends in sport

_We talked to 500 people across the US for a full survey on the Future Of Sport 

_The conversations about sporting events impact on a city and its community

_A semiotic analysis of what event design reveals about action off the field

_LA right now as Angelenos speak up about what matters to them

City Limits Volume 10: download it here 

Thurs October 5 at 1pm & 5pm BST / 12pm & 5pm EST. RSVP by clicking the first session here and the second session here.

Everything’s A Mess... a webinar on how brands can navigate uncertainty 

As you may have noticed, it’s been a turbulent few years. Shocks of uncertainty feel like they’re coming more seismically and frequently than ever (though, spoiler alert: things have always been uncertain) leaving us, and brands, and consumers in a constant state of flux. 

But it isn’t all doom and gloom. There is good to come from uncertainty, and in chaos lies opportunity. So, how can you find a way through? 

What should brands do or not do? Are you a hand holder, facilitator of escapism, or relatable realist – and what’s right for your brand?

At Crowd DNA we’re all about embracing the messiness of culture. It’s where we think brands can really thrive, and we relish our role as specialists in navigating unknowns. In this webinar we’ll:

_Discover how uncertainty can be a motivator for both consumers and brands

_Explore the human needs that are heightened in response to instability

_Use our trends and semiotics expertise to provide guidance on how brands can speak to these needs, across visuals, language and more

Join Rachel Rapp, futures director, and Amy Nicholson, associate director, futures, on Thurs October 5 to get stuck into the mess.

RSVP by clicking 1pm BST / 8am EST here and 5pm / 12pm EST here.

Reframing Ageing: APAC

The older adult category is stuck in time. Our new report shows how to get in step with today’s 50-plus people who are passionately reframing ageing…

Reframing Ageing: APAC download it here.

As people get to their fifties and sixties, they talk about how they experience ageism – at work, on a billboard, in culture. Our report, focussing on the APAC region, uses the Four Is – Irrelevance, Inferiority, Infantilization and Invisibility – to describe what this feels like. But these experiences are now being roundly rejected. We wanted to look at the people who are growing older but arriving at a life stage and feeling like it actually has so much potential in all areas. 

Reframing Ageing researches the ‘rejecting, reassessing, reclaiming’ of ageing that’s taking place. We use cultural cues, research and talking to our KIN members across APAC – Crowd DNA’s global network of creators and connectors – to show what we can learn about the needs of the 50-plus person and what they want when ageing is reframed….

The Reframing Ageing report introduces the 50-plus person who is completing extreme marathons, starting new businesses, or enjoying edgy fashion (as well as grey hair and going to the doctor more often). These shifting attitudes to ageing make opportunities for new products, media targeting or user images.

The full 35 page report includes:

_Insight on how it feels to experience ageism and where it can alienate customers

_Three emerging trends in ageing: Rejecting ageing – Reassessing ageing, and Reclaiming ageing

_Interviews with our KIN network about ageing positivity 

_Spotlight on what we can learn for products and brands

_Data on how the culture around ageing effects people in work and well-being

Reframing Ageing: APAC download it here

Crowd Shortcuts – a quick chat about something that’s caught our attention. This week, how the fashion for clothes that shroud or reshape give confidence to take up space in the world…

What’s all this then? This summer, Kanye West took girlfriend Bianca Censori to church, with her concealed by a cushioned wall encircling her neck and black fabric that stretched all the way over her head and torso with no arm holes or sleeves. Also seeking clothing for concealment at a blockbuster premiere, actress Hayley Atwell hid half her body in oversized-plus trousers by Ashi Studio – opting out of the red carpet norm for female actors. Meanwhile weeks earlier, at London’s fashion week, models had their necks and ankles covered up by super voluminous ruffles, and wore big brooches that were more armour than accessory.

Finally, a stylish alternative to the kaftan! Yes, these clothes look pretty darn cool. But more than that – and yes, even more importantly – these cover-ups will administer safety. They are clothes that give anonymity, or they rebuff the male gaze, or literally allow the wearer to take up more space – actions desired by celebs and people in everyday life alike. 

A cover-up? Sounds like the opposite of the bodycon trend… Not at all, and that’s what makes this so exciting. The original bodycon clothing equalled women being tightly stitched into their dress to experience the suffocating grip of passing as skinny and hot. But these clothes are still look-at-me fashion like the bodycon dresses that clung to every line of the figure. Yet it’s moved on to reflect our current needs: clothes that provide service to the wearer (safety, or space) as well as body confidence that is no longer predicated on binaries like fat or thin, small or large. 

Stylish clothes serving up body confidence for more of us? We like… And there’s more. Let’s look at how pop star Sam Smith doesn’t let their gender identity be reduced to choice of clothing by embracing this new bodycon trend. At the Brit music awards earlier this year, their outfit by HARRI featured a high neck, inflated arms and legs and a zip-up design over the chest – mocking the traditional concepts of couture that flaunt the perfect shape of the body. Embracing sculptural clothes was a way for them to comprehensively present their identity as not narrowly defined, as fluid, as a new shape entirely.

Body and soul confidence, then… and clothes helping us to have the space for that exploration is quite a cultural moment. Holding space and…

… literally giving space… You’ve got it. In our post-pandemic world it is also quite handy to have a large floral accessory that both serves looking stylish and makes people stand some distance from you. 

TL;DR: What to wear has always been a dance between personal expression and the need to pass in the world at large. This new body-con enables both: to be confident about your expression of self in clothes, and feel safe doing so. It takes the body-conditioning – that we all need to look a certain way – out of body-con. And that’s true body confidence for all.

Crowd Shortcuts – a quick chat about something that’s caught our attention. This week, how local neighbourhood stores are selling luxury convenience…

What’s all this then? An everyday visit to the local convenience store is turning into a luxury browsing opportunity. You may have heard of the lipstick index: it’s a way to spot a recession by lipstick sales going up as people turn to purchasing treats within their budget. Now look instead to the ‘local store index’, because this is the new place for cash-strapped consumers to find affordable luxuries.

Luxury among the cans of baked beans? Tell me more… The neighbourhood shop has undergone a glow-up. We see this in the bodegas of New York city making space for guest-curated snack boxes, craft beers and fancy, localised gifts.

Now you mention it, I have noticed expensive olive oil and kombucha on tap… Bingo!

So will we be ditching mega supermarkets? They’ve jumped on the local luxe movement, too. In the UK, supermarket giant Asda launched On The Move convenience stores last year – promising “a wide range of premium ‘Extra Special’ products” – while Aldi’s Corner Store in Sydney does a fast turnover in treat lunches: fresh sushi and artisan baked goods. Meanwhile, luxury convenience stores in South Korea have overtaken Japan in scale, and doing so with a focus on “developing unique products” (McKinsey, 2023).

Isn’t the economy amazing! Sure is. But local luxe is not just being driven by the economy. It reflects changing consumer values – as we see in how 7-Eleven (the largest convenience store chain in the US) is installing new charging stations for electric vehicles in its local branches, hoping to attract the environmentally-minded customer.

And the cherry on the luxe cake… here’s the even better sell: it takes us full circle back to a time when we’d go to the local baker, butcher and candlestick maker. Now the corner shop is getting the good stuff on the shelves – and not just essentials, which it always has done – it offers the kudos of a local market, of knowing what their customer really wants, of generating word of mouth recommendations.

Will this change the aspirations of product makers? They may move away from wanting to sell in enormous bulk to supermarkets and want to talk to local shop owners (even if it means lower profit margins) instead. Or brands may get better quality awareness from a local, trusted supplier.

Blimey. And the local store index? In a tougher economic landscape, few would argue with the sense in turning to the small treats to sustain us rather than emptying our bank accounts with bigger ticket items. Some may even claim their local artisan bread habit as an act of anti-globalisation… 

TL;DR: Local, luxury, convenient and conscious consumption – now that’s a shopping style that should outlast the cost-of-living crisis.


How ‘zero-waste’ became the new immersive dining experience – Crowd’s Phoebe Trimingham looks at our appetite for sustainable haute cuisine…

City Limits Volume Nine – download it here.

In our latest issue of City Limits – our regular exploration of changing urban experience – we look at solutions to world problems in the food business – from climate labels on menus to floating farms. One of our spotlights on sustainability is the rise of the zero-waste restaurant as not only a call to action, but an immersive experience for the diner.

Cities around the world are full of immersive dining experiences. From eating dinner in a makeshift aircraft, to sipping cocktails in the cupboard of a pawn-shop; going out for a meal is no longer just about the food. For those looking beyond standard dining experiences, meals are accompanied by a spectacle. So much so that experience fatigue has set in. 

So where do you turn when all the ‘experiences’ have been had? When you’re served yet another once-in-a-lifetime theatre show while trying to eat your soup? You turn back to the real hero: the food. Forward-thinking restaurants in global cities are shunning the temptation for distracting entertainment, and letting the food become the experience again. 

Enter the zero-waste restaurants: establishments attempting to do away with food waste entirely. Here, the food becomes the focus as diners buy into the admirable attempt at fully sustainable dining. While the issue of waste is certainly not a recent obsession for the restaurant industry – lots of places have been experimenting with sustainability for decades – what’s new is the front and centering of the efforts, and the glamorisation that goes with it.

Silo in London, for example, is designed ‘back to front’ with the bin in mind (irony being they don’t actually have a bin, they don’t need one). All food is used in its entirety – think cured mushroom stems and yeast treacle. Any leftovers are composted and sent back to their hyperlocal suppliers. Like Silo, Helsinki’s Nolla (‘zero’ in Finnish) sends compost back into the system, but guests are welcome to take home a scoopful too – a different kind of doggy bag. It’s philosophy of ‘refuse, reduce, reuse, and only as a last resource, recycle’ is consistent, from a reusable coffee container and a composter (above) to not accepting food that comes in single use plastic.

Meanwhile, Mume in Taipei has a dedicated sourcing manager (rare in a small, Asian restaurant) with the mission to champion underrated Taiwanese ingredients and zero-waste cooking practices.

These places strive to avoid food leftovers, but also any scrap of rubbish. Rhodora in Brooklyn – a fully sustainable wine bar also ‘waging a war against waste’ – shreds wine boxes into compost material and donates corks to an organisation that turns them into shoes. Everything is transported on bikes. Back at Silo, plates are made from plastic bags, wall lights from crushed bottles, and ceiling fixtures from dried seaweed. This all-in approach to the zero-waste concept is what makes these restaurants a fully immersive dining experience – no gimmick-y entertainment required.  

But these restaurants aren’t cheap: they’re all mid to high-end. This is interesting for two reasons. Firstly, sustainability is definitely something to be coveted, but why is the experience of it not more accessible? Secondly, could the price points actually work in sustainability’s favour? Making zero-waste dining a sexy, high-end experience brands the concept as an aspirational lifestyle. Like the Tesla car model, fancy zero-waste restaurants could, in turn, make the thought of intensive recycling more desirable – eggshell compost and all.  

Saying that, it is a bit odd to glamorise something that should be an everyday activity. If people are playing at sustainability when they dine out, are they less likely to practise it at home? The very act of going out for a meal that has been beautifully prepared for you distances it – managing food waste becomes something to passively experience and admire, rather than actively do. 

Either way, city diners are hungry for new, immersive experiences – and zero-waste restaurants are a welcome addition to the menu.

City Limits Volume Nine – download it here.