A recent article in USA Today addressed a subject close to our researcher heart: prediction. It revisited the trends predicted forty years ago by Alvin Toffler’s popular book “Future Shock,” and laid out some new predictions from Toffler Associates’ new book, “40 for the Next 40.”

We couldn’t help but get out the pen and start circling some of the key predictions citied in the article—especially as that very day we were presenting in Chicago on our own “11 Trends for 2011.” Looking across 70 categories and hundreds of brands, we have seen certain themes emerging, and were there to clue in marketers, with predictive consumer-generated data to back us up.

While Toffler’s predictions go beyond the scope of brand marketing, many of them are in line with what we are seeing in our own research. Here are just a few we circled:

Customization: Toffler’s prediction that mass-production will be replaced by on-demand custom manufacturing is a trend we presented on more than a year ago, having seen customization emerge as key to creating loyalty and engagement in certain categories. Think customized sneakers from Nike, and you get the picture.

Social Networking: That this will gain influence is now a given in the world of brands, as we predicted in 2009. It’s how brands will navigate this still-nascent social space that absolutely requires a consumer-based perspective on what works, and what doesn’t, when it comes to outreach into this very personal world.

Cyberdust: This catchy phrase by the Tofflers speaks to the ability of brands to collect more data faster—certainly faster than it can be analyzed. Brands are pushing back, as well they should, against the onslaught of research-by –the-pound. Any strategic metrics that can’t be presented on one page needs to be re-worked. And any strategy that isn’t predictive of in-market behavior should leave the room.

Prediction is close to our heart for one reason: brands, like people, can’t drive forward very effectively by looking in their rear-view mirror. Dashboard metrics are only valuable if marketing is driving in the right direction. Our number one prediction?: Seeing the future will continue to be what brands need most.