Trend spotting: Circa 1997

Entrepreneur Magazine posted an interesting article by Faith Popcorn about spotting widespread consumer trends. Read the list below and decide for yourself how accurate trend-spotters have been over the past ten years. It is strange to think that you’re just caught up in the zeitgeist of an era, rather than directing your own reason for being.

In Clicking, futurist Faith Popcorn identifies 16 trends–big, sweeping consumer movements that are driving the marketplace. When you study these driving forces, says Popcorn, you’re sure to get plenty of ideas for business opportunities. Here, in no particular order, are her top trends:

  1. Cocooning: People stay at home, building safe harbors that afford protection against the uncertain–even dangerous–outside world. The “country living” style of home furnishings is a case in point of products designed to tap directly into the cocooning trend.
  2. Clanning: We’re staying at home but still want to connect with other, like-minded souls. How? Internet chat rooms are one way we “clan” but still cocoon.
  3. Fantasy adventure: The operative concept is “risk free,” as we seek breaks from ruts through (safe) travel, new foods and possibly virtual reality.
  4. Pleasure revenge: “This is `Screw it, I’m wearing my mink coat,’ ” says Popcorn–and more broadly, pleasure revenge means consumers are tired of the rules that restrain us and are enjoying forbidden pleasures. “Smoking is another pleasure revenge,” says Popcorn.
  5. Small indulgences: Even if we can’t afford a Porsche, maybe we can afford a Porsche watch. Stressed-out consumers are rewarding themselves with countless little, affordable treats–from good cigars to Godiva chocolates.
  6. Anchoring: Anchoring is the search for spiritual roots and meanings.
  7. Egonomics: Rebelling against uniformity and sterility, we seek to stamp an “I” wherever we go as a quest for individuality becomes a major trend.
  8. FemaleThink: A big shift away from traditional, goal-oriented models to “the more caring and sharing, familial ones,” says Popcorn.
  9. Mancipation: Popcorn calls it “a NewThink for men,” and it means men will break out of strictly business ruts into more individual freedoms.
  10. 99 Lives: Today’s consumers are busy, busy, busy. Life in the late ’90s is just plain hectic, and smart businesses find ways to make their customers’ lives easier.
  11. Cashing out: Employees are jumping out of conventional careers and into more fulfilling, simpler ways of life, often in the countryside.
  12. Being alive: “Wellness” as a concept continues to mushroom, and healthy living is a dominant philosophy.
  13. Down-aging: Nostalgia for a childhood past: “When we eat Oreos, this is down-aging,” says Popcorn.
  14. Vigilante consumers: The business that messes with its customers can expect to pay a price, as consumers organize boycotts and go on the attack.
  15. Icon toppling: If it’s big, established and traditional, it’s in trouble as we join in overturning all the pillars of society.
  16. SOS: “Save Our Society.” A growing sense of living on an endangered planet is spawning a new environmental consciousness, new ethics and a new compassion.

One comment

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