Every year starting the first of November, I begin scripting the trends for the next year’s Trendcast Report – something that I have done now close to 20 years ago!
It’s always an interesting process of reviewing the field work and studies EXPERIENCE conducted during the course of the last year as well as the trends that peers are tracking and ferreting out the broader nature of market change.
Take Millennials as an example.
Back in 2003, I was already labeling the Millennials, “Millennials” versus “Generation Y” as many in the marketing and media fields were doing.
I projected out just how much of a change-wave the Millennials were going to be as they exited college and entered into our social and business communities.
Today, Millennials make up the majority share of the workforce and nearly 98% of every baby now being delivered is the product of two Millennials.
Take social media as another example.
Back in the earlier days, I talked about how it and mobile technology access would influence more than just online exchanges.
Today, how the public processes information, secures feedback from friends, communicates among one another and provides and receives word-of-mouth advice operates in a context more formed by social media than past structures of communications.
Some think that folks are more direct today in expressing their thoughts... but that has been more fostered by the restrictions of texting and Twitter than many think!
House & Home… LOL… I spoke in the early days that the great escalation of both home prices and new home construction was in for a correction. Now going into 2017, there’s another correction in housing looming – both homeownership and rental.
Boomer parents will loan down payments just long enough!
2017 is now 60 days away and the market is in for more change and challenge.
Here’s a couple pre-lude observations…
#1 Social Media has reached the level of market maturity and is morphing into dynamics actually of the past.
An article in the Wall Street Journal this past week talks about two conflicting camps at Facebook. One camp believes that Facebook is evolving into a forum of for apps… another camp believes that Facebook is evolving into a forum of video programming.
What’s intriguing is that nowhere in the article does it highlight the fact that Facebook has historically been a forum of social exchange among people.
Linked In was purchased by Microsoft and touts the purchase as a means to market Microsoft Office and how its programs can be used to assist business leadership.
Wow… I am sure that the “433 million professionals” who have posted profiles on Linked In are sitting back with baited breath to purchase Microsoft Office products.
And then there’s Twitter… that’s tanked.
Just as I am writing this, CBS News just broke with the announcement that Twitter is cutting 10% of its employees because it cannot find a buyer and is losing money at a record rate.
Reality hits quickly once the media hype and Wall Street delusionals ask the fundamental question… how is this venture going to generate revenue?
Whether social media becomes another format of advertising-supported broadcast programming or another avenue of retail distribution, what social media was all touted to be is unraveling as we sit back and watch.
Here’s another 2017 Trendcast Market Driver…
#2 Mass retail is downsizing and emerging as another forum of Mom & Pop.
In the last 60 days, Target announced that store expansion is being rechanneled to much smaller, niche-targeted Target stores – no pun intended!
Reduced down is not only the square footage, but also in relationship to selection and choice.
Just as Target made its announcement, Walmart did the same.
Whole Foods is even re-thinking its product mix and actually opening up a set of smaller Whole Food stores that will sell mostly 360 Whole Foods generic products at a competitive price point.
Kmart-Sears is now an EXPERIENCE client and all I can share is that customization of the retail deliverable is quickly replacing the business paradigm that all stores are all the same.
Starbucks is now diversifying too. Some Starbucks sell just coffee, others offer expanded food selection and others sell more wines and beers than coffee.
On another related note, there are now more new homes being built by independent builders than home building corporations.
And here’s another interesting trend…
#3 Suburban town squares are quickly becoming hot again as the in-town communities become more and more similar to the look and feel of the malls.
There is no question that I am somewhat biased in making this observation.
Where EXPERIENCE was housed the longest was torn down about 5 years ago… a location in the heart of the first neighborhood built in Atlanta after the city was set ablaze in the conclusion of the Civil War.
What sits on that site now is a “live-play” complex that houses a couple retail chain stores, a coffee house and a few restaurants.
That complex can be picked-up and placed in the once-hip, in-town centers of Austin, Seattle, Boston, DC or San Diego and it would look just as much local there as it does in Atlanta’s Historic Inman Park.
Just this past week I read in one of the intown Atlanta newspapers that a new development is slated to be built at on a property site that also once housed EXPERIENCE.
It’s a site two blocks from the home where Dr. King was born.
The historic loft building is being expanded with 40 townhouses that will be built above retail and restaurants in a post-modern architecture style…townhouses that will be starting in the $600K’s.
I am not alone in making these observations… and further emotionally pondering the sanity of developers and “locals” allowing it.
Whether it’s the Bohemians seeking alternative diversity or the Gay community seeking a sense of community or artists seeking out creativity, many are stepping back and watching their sense of place getting replaced by a canned and cost-prohibited culture.
This “mass produced” gentrification coupled with the rise of popularity of mid-century culture is quickly opening up new interest in… suburban town squares.
Part driven by affordability… and part driven by a sense of novelty… high tech is also facilitating what will challenge the viability of in-town communities all over again as commute times will not matter with new dynamics of work-from-home, web-connects and even co-working sites.
There are even some companies now realizing that relocation back out to the 'burbs might actually be easier in terms of cost as well as against-the-intown flow commutes of others.
There are more cool trends rattling the marketplace that will challenge strategists, entrepreneurs, top management and politicians alike.
As I age in this from one year to the next there are some overall observations that become clearer …
#1 – Generational groups have more impact that many marketers think
#2 – For all the integration of technology, there is more value in human innovation
#3 – The marketplace is not linear, its cyclical but the cycles run on different tier levels
#4 – Smart entrepreneurs and business leadership embrace challenge and change
#5 – Success requires looking beyond the obvious and the programmed… and unraveling the submerged.