If anyone would like a free copy of my 26 page trends report (2009+ Ten Trends: Predictions & Provocations) just use the link below and you can download a copy for absolutely nothing. Gratis. Zilch.
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Couple of things to look out for. Despite what people say at the G20 Summit look out for a rapid increase in economic protectionism. Another thing to keep an eye on is something I’m calling Corporate Repatriation. What is this? It’s companies that re-source (the opposite of out-source) locally or otherwise bring production and manufacturing back home.
I know. Where have I been? Nowhere really. I’ve just been up to my eyes writing another book and doing a few talks. I’m also about to go to Wales to do 8 talks for the Welsh Assembly and I’m also doing some scenarios on the future of libraries. In between all this I’ve finally gotten around to finishing off my 2009 trends review. I actually wrote this in January but I haven’t had a chance to do anything design-wise until now.
Anyway, I’ve decided not to sell hard copies this year but rather to give a handful of hard copies away to friends and then send out a free soft copy to anyone that wants one. It’s done but I haven’t created the hyperlink yet but watch this space…
Interesting article in the McKinsey Quarterly saying that education, media, insurance, healthcare and in-home food consumption all stand up relatively well during recessions. The industry sectors that suffer the most include out of home entertainment (i.e. ticket sales for events), housing, tobacco products, clothing, transport, personal care and personal care services and eating out of home. Not sure about the ticket sales one myself.
Here it is…the top trend for 2009, applicable to just about anything.
Trend #1: Anxiety (2009 remix)
We are living in anxious times. First it was Y2K and then 9/11. More recently we’ve been worried by the threat of a global flu pandemic, SARS, Deep Vein Thrombosis, rogue asteroids, climate change and now 1929 returning. Running in parallel to all this, trust in large institutions (especially government and big business) has all but evaporated (or we’ve become more cynical about the ability of these institutions to tell us the truth or deliver). The result is a new age of anxiety. People are worried about jobs, homes, savings and the planet. This insecurity is to some extent generational, but there is a general feeling that the world has spun out of control.
People are looking for scapegoats but they are also looking for safety, reassurance and control. This means that people will tend to stick with individuals and institutions that they know and trust. Hence individuals moving out of shares towards ‘safe savings’ such as gilts and low risk bonds. Similarly, people will stay in jobs and education for longer and will aspire to public sector jobs due to perceived security.
In terms of opportunities, products and services that give a sense of security or reduce stress will do well. This could be provided by technology but generally it’s reassurance with a human face attached that people are after. Nostalgic products and experiences that tap into the (largely false) belief that we once lived in safer and more certain times will also do well.
Trend #2: De-leveraging
What cheap credit and irrational exuberance giveth, tighter lending controls and uncertainty taketh away. Growth is slowing down and institutions and individuals will get rid of as much debt as fast as they can. The last decade saw an unprecedented level of spending, most of it driven by cheap money and the attitude that what went up no longer went down. The impact of financial deregulation and innovation also meant that people were offered new ways to owe more money to more people.
None of this is necessarily a problem if you have a job, but if you don’t things can turn very nasty very quickly indeed.
Organizations will reduce their dependency on debt. This means that they will sell assets although by so doing they will inadvertently push the value of these assets even lower. For individuals selling assets is more problematic because their largest asset is generally their home. Hence the only real strategy is to spend less by cutting back on non-essentials. This means buying less, fixing things rather than throwing them away and possibly renting things rather than buying them outright.
In terms of business, expect to see more consolidation with markets becoming more polarised between the very large and the very small. In the public sector, expect to see government debt soar, resulting in a variety of u-turns over spending pledges in areas such as climate change, education, health and transport.
Trend #3: Back to basics
Bye bye complex financial products — at least for a while. Following the sub-prime fiasco, simplicity, transparency and products that are not over-engineered or overly complex are back in vogue. So too are local lenders where what you see is what you get. But this swing back to the old skool doesn’t just apply to financial services. Uncertainty and anxiety are driving people towards people and products that they know and understand in all spheres.
If people are strapped for cash they will do many of the things that they did the last time there was a major recession. Therefore expect to see a resurgence of fresh home cooked meals (because cooking from scratch costs less money but also because home cooking tends to pull the immediate family back together). We should also see more people growing their own food, mending their own clothes, cleaning their own houses and fixing their own cars. At least we will for a while until people remember how difficult and frustrating some of these activities are and revert to previous behaviour.
Trend # 4: Digital Diets
People are drowning in digital data. For example, according to an Australian survey, 63% of people feel that they are overloaded with information and 40% have difficulty remembering more than 3 phone numbers. People are also realising that being less connected can actually be a good thing. For example, some people are starting to find out that you can have too many digital friends. Hence not responding to friendships requests or dropping out of social networks will become commonplace. Similarly people are slowly waking up to the fact that they waste an extraordinary amount of time and money on technology that doesn’t make their lives any easier or better. Thus unplugging on a general level will become popular as a way of rebalancing frantic and frenetic lives.
In many instances this trend will be driven by necessity. It is a way of saving money or reclaiming personal or family time. However, there is also an aspirational element to this trend. In the same way that owning a mobile phone was once seen as a mark of sophistication, not owning one (or using one sparingly) is becoming a signal that a person has sorted out their priorities or has rebalanced their life. People may also decide that in some instances the old ways were the better ways and will start to use products and services that do not require power or are an antidote to fast digital alternatives.
Expect to see a growing interest in analogue products. For example, fountain pens, letter writing, wet-film photography and vinyl records.
This trend is taken from some work I’ve been doing on scenarios for 2009.
Trend #5: Enoughism
People are becoming alarmed about the health of the planet and especially the pervasive influence of materialism upon their lives. Some people have therefore decided to take personal responsibility and do something about it. Enoughism is about switching things off, buying less stuff and seeking to reconnect with the simpler pleasures of life. It is a world where quality counts. People are still prepared to pay for things but they expect them to last. The trend is best summed up by Tom Hodgkinson in his book ‘How to Be Free’, who talks about the shift from finding out what you want to discovering what you can do without.
Organizations will become increasingly values-driven. They will also become more connected with their communities, be it geographic are or the wider community of employees, customers and suppliers. People will be spending more time with their immediate family and friends too. This is an opportunity because people will be interested in things that enable this or tap into the need to slow things down a little. However, using technology to give people superficial or remote access is liable to backfire.
Links with down-shifting, work/life balance aspiration, the search for meaning and the rise of spirituality.
Trend #6: IMBYs
People are becoming disillusioned with the effects of globalisation. Thus we are starting to see the development of campaigns to make production and consumption more local.Hence IMBYs (In My Back Yard). This trend is the opposite of the previous NIMBY trend (Not In My Back Yard).
This links with environmental concerns but is also driven by a desire to control outcomes. Thus, in the same way that people once campaigned to stop things happening locally, there will now be campaigns to ensure that everything from factories to schools are built around the corner and support the local community.
The trend is most evident with food where localisation and provenance are already important but the trend will move beyond this to affect everything from politics to business.