Ten trends that are changing everything from consumerism to the business landscape throughout the modern world.
1. Total convergence: Old familiar boundaries and categories are dissolving, blurring black and white into shades of gray -- private with public, fact with fiction, news with entertainment, young with old, home with office, off-line with online.
2. Local is now global: Today, home is the safest yet most exotic destination of all. You’re always just a click away from anywhere in the world, and just down the road, you can find people and cuisine from every continent.
3. Arm’s-length intimacy: Is going online like lying on the couch in the psychiatrist’s office, where the doctor sits out of sight? We feel more comfortable opening up personally with people online than face-to-face. Less familiar but more intimate is the new social, thanks to social-networking platforms such as Facebook.
4. Stretching and molding time: Everything happens faster now, so we’re living life in rapid bursts. The ultimate luxury act is the slow dance, the slow meal, the slow seduction.
5. Value and values: What’s it really worth and how is it really important to me? These are the questions that rein in our impulse purchases during times of recessionary living. They’re followed by: Which stores or brands will supply what I need?
6. Media is the great escape: When the mood is depressed, distraction is great. Media is the true third place, where we can program our own relaxation and create a more perfect environment.
7. Looking back to learn: Check out the countless recent references to past events and people: the 1930s, Lincoln, Darwin. With so much history instantly available and the path ahead muddied with doubt and uncertainty, we’re looking to the past for reassurance that this, too, shall pass and for lessons about how that might happen.
8. Not without technology: Whatever else may disappear in the “creative destruction” of the crisis, technology is here to stay. Some may yearn for simpler times and the satisfaction of hand tools, but the plain truth is that the future lies in mastering new technologies.
9. Embracing maturity: It may be a while before companies and economies start growing again. In the meantime, we’ll be squaring the urge to hold on to eternal youth with the need to grow up and sober up. As President Obama put it in his inaugural address: “The time has come to set aside childish things.”
10. Wellness messaging: “Globesity” may be the death of companies associated with extra-large indulgence. Watch for h themes: health, holistic, hydrate. Should water be free and accessible to all or still peddled as a gourmet side dish? (The great debate on water will upstage oil in some circles.)