Circa 1985: Faith Popcorn’s “Future Trends” …

Cocooning, Icon Toppling, Futuretense

When I taught Basic Marketing, I covered “marketing information” … including the usual material on marketing research and analysis.

For fun (and relevance), I usually included some stuff on trend spotting — topics like demographic changes and evolving consumer hot buttons and preferences.

Always a crowd-pleaser was work done by a “pop marketing futurist” who named herself Faith Popcorn.

In a couple of best-selling books (The Popcorn Report, Clicking), Popcorn zeroed in on the major trends that she thought marketers needed to consider.

At the time, Popcorn was sometimes characterized as:

“An always on-duty watchperson of cultural change … who makes a living selling stardust to corporate types”

Here’s the core of the “stardust” that Popcorn was (and is) peddling:

click to enlarge

Keep in mind that most of the projections were developed in the mid-1980’s … and note that all have relevance now — 35 years later in 2020.

Let’s drill down on a couple of them…



In her 1991 book, The Popcorn Report, Popcorn describes cocooning as:

The impulse to go inside when it just gets too tough and scary outside.

To pull a shell of safety around yourself, so you’re not at the mercy of a mean, unpredictable world.

A world offering harassments and assaults that run the gamut from rude waiters and noise pollution to crack-crime, recession and AIDS.

Cocooning is about insulation and avoidance, peace and protection, coziness and control-a sort of hyper-nesting.

At the time, Popcorn saw the intersection of an increasingly hostile world — mild by today’s standard — and advancing technology that made staying-at-home more entertaining and provided windows into the outside world.

Fast forward to today’s Covid-induced sheltering-in-place … the epitome of “super nesting”.


Idol Toppling

Stated simply: A growing mass of skeptics and idealists question and reject all pillars or society … government, corporations, religions.


Need I say more?



Anxiety-ridden by simultaneous social, economic, political and ethical chaos, people find themselves beyond their ability to cope today or imagine tomorrow.

Change is never easy, and FutureTense captures the deep consumer unrest related to what we call FOF (Fear of the Future).

In the early 90s, anxiety began growing, and people were increasingly unsure of how to navigate the choppy waters ahead.

The foundations of their world – assuming they’d own their own home, that America was composed primarily of white heterosexuals, that we were moving towards world peace, that the planet was healthy and that our longevity would keep increasing – were rocked.

The explosive growth of the Internet and mobile devices were a huge boon, but unsettling for some – and brought a sense of Data Danger, a new wave of worries about hacking, malware, and a host of other ills.

The economic downturn that hit in 2007-8 only served to exacerbate consumer fears and anxiety.

Of course, the coronavirus has has put Futuretense into overdrive…


I think that Popcorn has been vindicated of the “stardust” charge.

Her trend-spots have been both on target and enduring.

As they say: Plus ça Change, Plus C’est La Même Chose.


P.S. Faith is still popping … her Trends Blog is worth browsing.

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