One of America's top futurists and trend-spotters has some thought provoking ideas about what is happening in today's consumer world.
"The cultural "uber-movement" is represented by the trend Anchoring; reaching for our spiritual roots to secure the future," says leading trend forecaster Faith Popcorn in BrainReserve's 2008 forecast (www.faithpopcorn.com).
"In 2008, we'll continue to be buffeted by winds of change threatening our path toward a safe harbor, " she opines.
In her annual trend forecast, based on BrainReserve Trendbank research, Ms. Popcorn outlines the cultural landscape that will impact domestic lifestyles.
MINDSET: Characterized by the Current "DissedTrust", people will continue to reject "establishment" institutions, expecting them to lie, cheat and abuse employees, communities and the environment.
However, rich rewards will go to any institution that can reach the bar of trust.
CONSUMER BEHAVIOR: Consumer behavior will operate on a spectrum marked by two trends: Pleasure Revenge, (consumers having secret bacchanals), and Cashing Out (working people questioning personal/career satisfaction opt for simpler living), with the overall culture tipping to the latter.
Manifestations of this behavior include:
Reactions to Pleasure Revenge -- Detox Retox Taking cues from celebrity culture, people will rid themselves of the ills of over-indulgence, only to binge again. Such "Cures" will be transient.
As the health care system becomes the new Big Brother, lifestyles will be highly monitored. "Only the rich will afford to binge," noted Popcorn, "as the fat become the new rich, celebrated as a status symbol."
FantasyReality: As virtual experience becomes prevalent, it will seep into everyday reality and personalities, screaming our desire to "chuck it all and cut loose." It's easier to fulfill increasingly "poly-amorous desires" in a "parallel universe" with virtual beings as lovers.
"Indulgence without consequences" will become increasingly attractive and fulfilling.
Reactions to Cashing Out: "Lagom," from the Swedish, meaning "just enough," is an approach to design and consumption that explains the essence of brands like Ikea and Volvo. BrainReserve sees "minimalism" and "sustainability" taking on significant currency as Americans reject hyper-consumption, not just as excessive, but also as damaging to themselves, others and the planet.
KarmaCapitalism: "Cashing Out" will rise in prominence causing a basic shift in the mentality of people who transition from "consumer" to "citizen" as they recognize that every transaction is a "vote" in favor of the offering entity, and against options not chosen.
"Companies will need to weave 'goodness' into their corporate cultures as a dash of corporate social responsibility whether monetary commitment or symbolic gesture, will no longer suffice," BrainReserve's founder, Popcorn said.
Activism will become the new narcissism as people will move on from wearing 'cause' bracelets to posting their causes and beliefs on their resumes and business cards. Employers and prospective hires will court their perfect (cause) match.
MARKETPLACE RESPONSE: In 2007, BrainReserve introduced Liquid Brands; brands that constantly reinvent themselves, replacing "constancy," "reliability," and "dependability."
In 2008, Popcorn see further refinements of brands seeking a place in a chaotic environment:
Whisper Brands: As a logical progression from Cashing Out, Whisper Brands will remove themselves from the clutter to become more subtle and intimate; whispering in our ears to be heard above the roar of the mediascape.
Mafia Brands: Consumers taking the Pleasure Revenge route will plunge headlong into the din of the brandscape, looking to their brands for "protection," according to Ms. Popcorn.
"As brands progress from ad buyers to content providers, expect them to keep out competing sources of noise so that 'Shelter from the Storm' becomes an important functional benefit," she adds.
For three decades, Faith Popcorn's BrainReserve has been the leader in bringing applied futurism to Fortune's Global 500 Brands.