"Home delivery, Internet shopping, and mail order will all benefit from our instinct to cocoon. So will personal-security devices and products that make our air, water, and food safer."
BOTTOM LINE: Popcorn says companies should strive to make their corporate environments more like home, and, if they don't have a work-at-home policy, it's time to draft one. Companies should also be considering goods and services targeted at the growing pool of homebodies.
INTIMACY AND BALANCE
Priority shifts have rocked the workplace for several years now. According to J. Walker Smith, president of Yan-kelovich Partners, an influential marketing, trend-watching, and database company, people are thinking harder than ever about what does and doesn't work in their lives, about slowing down, relaxing more, improving family ties, and keeping "stuff" from cluttering their lives.
Indeed, a nationwide survey of restaurants in October 2001 showed that reservations for family groups were up significantly, according to Crisis Management International. And over the coming year, Smith sees a continued move toward greater intimacy, and toward greater balance between professional and personal lives. He sees Americans "pulling in the boundaries of the world around them and living in tighter, more intimate circles."
Such priority shifts need not damage economic prosperity. Smith believes everything about business can be understood by remembering that people don't buy "things," they buy solutions. The new problems of the day - helping people find intimacy and balance - are ripe business opportunities for 2002. Marketing toward these priorities, Smith sees an increase in casual gift giving; a boom in book, sport, and social clubs; new technologies to reduce excessive business travel; a rise in home concerts and home entertainment; more intimate venues for leisure activities, and so on.