what’s hot and what’s not in the next decennary
Happy New Year! Yup, we’re living in an epoch marked by a distinctive character, reckoned from a confluence of (mostly downer) events over the past decade (2000-2010): war, terrorism, economic turmoil, corporate fraud, environmental disasters, nuclear threats, identity theft, political blunders, pandemics, corrupt sports heroes, product recalls, food safety issues, unemployment, etc.
Many New Yorkers I spoke with over the holidays confided that they’re living with a constant low level of stress and an ever-present small knot in their gut (I hope not from my cooking). In response to being overwhelmed with uncertainty, chaos and constant change, people are hyper-alert and poised for fight or flight. This edginess is palpable in NYC on the subway, in museums and in movie theaters.
While pessimists claim we’re nearing the end of days, optimists say we’re merely self-correcting. I’m a “utopian realist”: my perspective is that we’re merely a “blip” in the 6.5 million years that our genus has lumbered upon the earth, so we’ll probably be just fine coming out of this crappy decennium. Changed, but fine. I share the view with my friend, playwright Mike Follie, that we’re living at the very beginning of human development; we’re the start – or spark – of humanity which will continue for eons. We’re not the end of evolution, but the “swill” that starts it. Isn’t it arrogant to think that we’re the final generation? That we’ll live to see, or even cause, Armageddon? The long calendar of the Mayans ends in 2012 so some believe this heralds the end of the universe, however, the Mayans couldn’t foresee their own destruction from the Spanish, yet they know what’s going to happen in 2012??????
The way I see it, we’re fundamentally animals – with the same basic wants, needs and worries. As all the flora and fauna respond and adapt to environmental changes, American culture is also adjusting. In response to the past 10 years Americans are reprogramming and upgrading their behavioral “operating systems” (think: US OS 2.0), which marketers ought to take note of what’s “hot” and what’s “not”. Consumers are in a different place right now and marketing strategies and tactics need to change along with consumers.
The obvious consumer response to life today is economizing, seeking value, scaling back, protecting assets, recycling, downsizing and streamlining. The less obvious response is that everyone, regardless of age, is experiencing a “mid-life crisis” –Resulting in introspection and re-evaluating all life’s choices…including brands. A new soulfulness and conscientiousness is emerging. Exasperated with the old ways, Americans are seeking companies that show they have a soul and bands with values.
I was inspired by watching the History channel’s series on the Seven Deadly Sins; it occurred to me that Americans have been living out the Seven Deadly Sins for the past 10 years, and that didn’t work so good. Put simply, it had disastrous consequences. Fear is humbling. So, Americans are taking a different approach by simply embracing the opposite of the Seven Deadly Sins (btw: the Seven Virtues are a different story all together). So I set out to list the “Seven Deadly Sins + Some” and their antitheses. It all became so clear… a checklist emerged highlighting and articulating how people, companies and brands need to behave going forward. Marketers take note of this “Soul Candy 2010” reference list.