Getting surreal. With the recession still beating down on us, the unemployment issue nowhere near fixed and the number of reality TV stars on the rise, the amount of Americans who want (nay, feel entitled to) their 15 minutes of fame or cash or shock value—or who are just, well, losing it—will keep climbing.
The hugs of virtuality. We’ve traded quality for quantity, giving up ties that truly bind in exchange for counting thousands of friends and followers. As life becomes more of a grind to keep our heads above water, leaving less time for face-to-face, more people, especially women, will continue to reach out to others they don’t know to make up for a lack of soul-bearing outlets in their own life.
Teenagents rising. Sluggish lumps hanging around the 7-Eleven parking lot? Not so much. Today’s American teenagers are agents of change, agents of communication, agents of innovation and agents of power consumerism. By 2015, they’ll be reaping the rewards of their connections—both the plugged-in kind and those of the human variety—and the rest of us will benefit in more ways than we can imagine.
Hyperlocalization. We’re feeling more connected to other parts of the world, yes, but people are longing for small-community connections. And that’s where marketers will hypertarget, too. Potlucks will be choreographed as “local,” but…
Hyperpolarization. …as people segregate themselves, fault lines will deepen. People will socialize the way they list themselves on Match.com (religious, drinking, smoking habits). But we will see independents emerge to bridge the gaps.
Emo bling. Or, conspicuous displays of emotion. As “warmer” cultures meet “colder,” warmer will win out; characteristics considered “feminine”—expressiveness, PDA—will be the norm.
Bad credit? Whatever. There will be less worry about credit ratings because everyone has a lousy one.
Cyberdisinhibition. Thanks to a disconnect with offline contacts, more people have done inappropriate things over social media than you might think—with one in five lashing out at brands, products or employers.
In-your-face honesty. Pre-public confessions by well-known figures (see David Letterman) will turn their indiscretions into minor issues as people are more focused on the basics: jobs, debts, etc.
Can’t touch this. Preview dating—of partners and products—online is the new means of socializing and getting comfortable with something we can’t touch yet.
Children, the last taboo. Childless by choice, fine; even giving up a child to the system is not a taboo—but we’re getting nuts about people who exploit, abandon or harm kids, especially those who use them as prime-time props.
Heading off angst. Awareness will increase of brain health and injuries—plus, are cell phones linked to brain cancer? (Related: If that’s a phone in his pocket, is he risking his fertility?)
Speaking of cell phones… Are they the next tobacco? Has the backlash begun?
Green nears revolution. We’ll see more pushback against people who don’t embrace nature and greenness. (Related: Camping, fishing and gardening flourish.)
Media and Technology
Virtual bullies. Flash mobs pop up on social media and the Internet over controversial issues, especially when they involve a celebrity or political figure. Mom bully crews are also on the rise.
We are all media. Every campaign begins with the influence of one (when Obama girls wear J. Crew ballet slippers on vacation, sales boom).
Generational blurring. The young are getting older, but the old are getting younger.
Decade marketing. The way stores must reach influence shoppers today.
Extremes blending. Fashionista and frugalista exist at the extremes. A melding of the two—everyday, style-minded women—are a brand’s real customers.
No piggy in the bank. Institutional fundraising will become more creative; look for peer-to-peer lending and online benefits among innovations. Plus, we’ll hear much more about microfinancing.
In fact, small is the new big. Micropayments make sense to anxious consumers and help take the pain out of paying; small, utilitarian purchases will be counted in cents rather than dollars. Penny auctions and eBay-type sites are just the beginning.
Thought leadership. Companies succeed when every employee—at every level and in every discipline—is thinking of the future and developing insights.
Brand Me. Even when we work for big companies, we’re focused on our own brand. We want to stay in the game even if our companies don’t.
Minding each other’s business. With more open-plan offices, employees will need to take more accountability for what they say, do and think.
May–September office buds. Millennials and cuspers pal up in the workplace to make up for each other’s deficits.
Express yourself. Self-expression will be everywhere thanks to real-time connectivity, which means everyday art will be awesome.
Pleasure from pain. Pain will be an inspiring force. How can we make our pain heard? Pottery, painting and other art forms that express emotion will be the next frontier.
Food and Drink
Eating green. Yes, that means more organic veggies, but people will also do large-haul grocery shopping online and filling in the rest on bike or foot. And cooking it all at home will remain the go-to choice.
To our health. We’ll be creating the ultimate immunity diets, eating the healthiest seafoods, ordering bean soup for brunch (sans bread), embracing slow cooking and keeping the most vitamins and nutrients possible.
Guy dates. As the economy stays flat and the need for networking skyrockets, men will go out more for drinks together. Think manly: “Mad Men” spirits will flourish, as well as homemade and signature beers.
Goodbye, comfort. Hello, relaxing. The new normal will be grazing and gorging, but less of the comfort foods and more of the relaxing foods. Burgers out and lamb in. Plus, people will be relaxing over long meals—and potlucks—in each other’s homes.
What next? After being told for decades that tofu and soy reigned supreme, an anti-soy movement will grow as boomer and cusper women start to realize its correlation to tumors and worry about its role in their future health.
Family matters. Not a surprise in our economic state, people will plan more extended family holidays to spread costs around.
Dubai out, Croatia in. It’s a reflection of people’s desires to keep any money they have left a private matter and getting back to what’s real.
Eating our way around the world. Next stop: Africa.
Less for less. There’s a new austerity with travel in general. And be on the lookout for the growing business budget traveler aesthetic.