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In early January you will receive our “Top Trends 2010,” The Trend Research Institute’s compendium of the dominant trends for the year ahead.
Anything can happen between now and then. The following synopses of these trends provide insights into what to expect so as to be prepared to take swift and appropriate action should a major wild card event occur that could dramatically impact the tempo and direction of forthcoming trends.
After a year of enduring the emotional and financial hardships brought on by the “Panic of ’08,” people around the globe were eager to accept the promises of recovery offered at the end of 2009. But despite an apparent break in the clouds, we forecast that 2010 will prove to be the Breaking Point: increased terror, escalating wars, economic calamity.
Yet, apart from these ominous forecasts, The Trends Research Institute also foresees a variety of emerging social, health, environmental, entertainment, cultural, technological, business and consumer trends that will be both profitable and transformational. Out of the chaos a true Renaissance will spring.
BREAKING POINT: TOP TRENDS 2010
The “Crash of 2010”
In November of 2007, we predicted the “Panic of ’08.” There was a panic. In November of 2008, we forecast the “Collapse of ’09.” In March ‘09, the global equity markets collapsed. But before they could crash all the way to the ground, a scaffold of emergency props was erected. An unparalleled array of government cash infusions, rescue packages, bailouts and incentives papered over the crisis.
Today, even as government spokesmen and the major media proclaim that the world is emerging from its near-cataclysmic recession, we predict the “Crash of 2010.” The rising equity markets, on which claims of recovery are based, are worlds away from the hard reality of the streets. Unemployment statistics tell the real story of real money that millions of real people no longer have and can’t get, regardless of rising equity markets. This is no time to be caught off guard.
As times get tougher and money gets scarcer, one of the hottest new money-making, mood-changing, influence-shaping trends of the century will soon be born. Those that see it first and follow it through will profit the most.
With unemployment, bankruptcies and foreclosures hitting record highs, the spirits of Americans are hitting record lows. People are becoming desperate to find something – anything – that will make them feel better, to do something to pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and start all over again.
We forecast that something will be “Elegance” in its many manifestations. The trend will begin with fashion — a rejection of the gangsta pants/hat-on-sideways look in favor of a move toward quality and individuality — and will spread through all the creative arts, as the need for beauty trumps the thrill of the thuggish. A strong, do-it-yourself aspect will make up for reduced discretionary income, as personal effort provides the means for affordable sophistication.
While The Trends Research Institute can’t predict precise dates or the magnitude of terror attacks, we can be fairly certain they are on the way. As 2009 draws to a close, the “Fort Hood Gunman” is being recognized by the intelligence community as the poster boy for an alarming new terror phenomenon termed “lone-wolf, self-radicalized gunmen.” Years of war in Afghanistan and Iraq – and now Pakistan – have intensified anti-American sentiment and increased the number of individuals seeking revenge. NATO allies contributing troops to the wars will also be targeted.
Back in the Cold War days, survivalism meant building a bomb shelter and stocking it with enough food to outlast nuclear fallout.
In the late 1970’s, with inflation soaring, Iran raging, and gold and oil prices skyrocketing, survival meant cashing out of paper money and heading for the hills with enough ammunition and pork & beans to wait out the economic and political storms.
In 2000, the Y2K crowd – the most recent breed of survivalists – expecting computer clocks to crash, infrastructure to break down and the world to go dark, were armed and barricaded with enough food to feed an army and enough ammunition to hold one off.
In 2010, survivalism will go mainstream. Unemployed or fearing it, foreclosed or nearing it, pensions lost and savings gone … all sorts of folk who once believed in the system, having witnessed its battering, have lost their faith.
The realities of failing financial institutions, degrading infrastructure, manipulated marketplaces, soaring energy costs, widening wars, and terror consequences have created a new breed of survivalist. Motivated not by worst-case scenario fears but by do-or-die necessity, the new non-believers, unwilling to go under or live on the streets, will devise ingenious stratagems to beat the system, get off the grid (as much as possible), and stay under the radar.
Not Welcome Here
When economies boom and cheap labor is needed, immigrants are welcome. But when crises shrink the economic pie and/or waves of immigrants threaten to change the complexion of the nation, the welcome mat is pulled away.
In 2010, the anti-immigration movement, long building, will arrive and stay in the US and abroad. With the world’s population increasing by nearly a billion a decade, more people than jobs are being created. America and Europe, with their immigrant populations close to double digits, are experiencing an identity crisis. In Europe, fear and resentment of Muslims has led to huge gains for anti-immigrant political parties. In the US, with mid-term elections coming up, what to do about the “illegals” will be a hot- button issue that will top the political agenda and serve as a galvanizing force for a new party.
TB or Not TB
About two-thirds of Americans are Too Big (TB) for their own good and everyone else’s. In the wake of the national debate on health care, which has failed to focus on the enormous financial costs of obesity and overweight, 2010 will mark the outbreak of a concentrated War on Fat.
In fact, we forecast a massed revulsion for TB in all its manifestations – obesity is only the most obvious. Everything in America is TB – not just the waistlines, giant sodas, super-sized fries and ten-gallon cartons of popcorn. Houses
Mothers of Invention
The ongoing shock to the economic system is rebooting “Yankee ingenuity.” Innovation and the “can do” spirit that was once a signature of the American Way of Life, but that fell prey to a bottom-line corporate mentality and Wall Street’s obsession with next quarter profits, is alive and well again.
The need to overcome the effects of reduced individual buying power will lead to the invention of a new class of product which will be a major trend of 2010 and into the future: “Technology for The Poor.” Growing with the same speed as the Internet Revolution, the trend will be recognized, explored and exploited by legions of skilled but jobless geeks, innovators and inventors. They will design and launch a new class of products and services affordable by the millions of newly downscaled Western consumers.
Not Made In China
Consumers are preparing to deliver a big “No” to unrestrained globalism. Three decades of outsourcing well-paying jobs has failed to deliver the high-standard service-sector economy promised by politicians. In the developed nations, living standards have declined as more jobs are sent abroad. Even less-developed nations such as India, Indonesia and Vietnam have filed complaints against China for unfair trade practices.
A “Buy Local/My Country First” backlash will be the first sign of what we forecast will become a massive, “circle-the-wagons” movement. As economies continue to decline and even more jobs are lost and/or sent abroad, it will be seen as politically incorrect and financially self-defeating to plunk down money to enrich multinationals at the expense of local and domestic producers.
We forecast a “Not Made in China” consumer crusade that will spread among developed nations, leading to trade wars and protectionism. While governments still give lip service to free trade, over 200 protectionist measures were put in place in 2009 alone.
Craftspeople and small manufacturers that can establish a reputation for quality products will be able to build thriving micro-brands, while marketers who can amalgamate micro-cooperatives into true local commerce organizations will carve a solid niche for themselves.
The Next Big Thing
In little more than a decade, the Internet Revolution has overthrown the traditional world of print. Unable to adapt to the digital age, august newspapers, magazines and book publishers that had thrived for centuries went under, drastically downsized in an effort to stay alive, or were forced to establish a web-only presence.
Who would have believed such “must reads” as the Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, Minneapolis Tribune, Seattle-Post Intelligencer and The Philadelphia Inquirer would be reduced to has-beens and are-no-mores. In 2009, 15,000 newspaper journalists lost their jobs. Major magazines folded. Sales of books stagnated and profits fell, victims of cutthroat competition and inroads made by alternative publishing methods and technologies.
The next colossal casualty of the Internet Revolution will be TV/cable networks. Technological innovations already in place will enable enterprising upstarts to gouge out large chunks of market share from daytime, primetime, news and opinion-based programming.
Just as the print media was blindsided by the online assault and responded with strategies that proved counterproductive, the networks are already making moves guaranteed to weaken their franchises. Techno-guerilla warriors, producers, impresarios, entrepreneurs and investors that understand the vast markets beyond the realm of network consciousness and the possibilities opened by the new technology will not only carve out lucrative niches, but will also prove influential in effecting sociological, cultural and even political change.