Exchanging adventure for 'managed discovery'

Melanie Howard
Future Foundation

New services are trying to reconcile consumers' urge to avoid risk with their longing for adventure. Melanie Howard explains the world of the curated experience.

Flying off the shelves of our trends nursery nVitro is a new narrative we call The End of Adventure. It has applications for most sectors, articulating one of the paradoxes created by a world of ubiquitous digital access. It describes how we are now anticipating a future of managed discovery and curated novelty. Adventure, as we have known it, is dead, yet the desire for unmediated excitement remains strong. How can the modern brand reconcile these competing pressures?

In a market brimming with reviews, ratings and recommendations, one might think only the most intrepid consumer would dare to shop blind, without the aid of the choice-maximising tools. However, our contention is that a wired world that supports so much vicarious living – in which so many offers can be voyeuristically pre-viewed, Binged or Google-Mapped – is anathema to adventure. We are facing a future in which discovery is managed, experiences vetted and true adventure marginalised, as this quote from our global network of trendspotters illustrates: "I prefer to know that I'm going to a good restaurant, good hotel, beautiful part of a city... [People here] actively enjoy the research aspect of planning a trip, they like to know that their hard-earned money will be well-spent." (Ireland, female, 36.)