Archive for the ‘Trends & Milestones’ Category

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

June 23, 2020

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.

Friends with benefits …

July 14, 2011

Punch line: The number of unmarried cohabitators has doubled in the past 10 years …

[DIVORCE jump]

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Millennials say “red” or “white” … or a Miller Lite

December 7, 2010

TakeAway: 70 million millennials’ (loosely defined as those born between 1980 and 2000) taste for adventure, quirkiness and convenience will drive the market in the coming decade.

They are taking up wine at an earlier age than Gen X-ers and will buy wine just about anywhere – including the corner convenience store.

Moreover, 20 million of them have yet to turn 21, meaning they will become an even more powerful force. 

Experts say millennials, as opposed to other generations, have no fear of asking for wine advice, but a lot of them seek it from Facebook friends and on Twitter – which is leading winemakers to invest in social media.

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Excerpted from AdAge, “Millennials: the Great White Hope for Wine Industry” By E.J. Schultz, December 6, 2010

Wine marketers have only recently started zeroing in on the market, as opposed to other lifestyle brands which have been tracking the generation for many years.  The most recent player is 7-Eleven, which convened a focus group of millennials before launching its latest line of proprietary wines about two weeks ago. The brand, called Cherrywood Cellars, is priced at $7.99 to $8.99 to lure young adult drinkers whom the convenience store chain says might be watching their wallets more closely than Gen X-ers and baby boomers during the economic downturn.

Although beer remains the beverage of choice for millennials, accounting for 42% of their alcoholic drinks, wine captures 20% — up from 13% for Gen Xers when they were a similar age 10 years ago, according to Nielsen. Drinkers tend to shift to spirits and wine as they get older. If that trend holds, wine will account for 26% of all alcoholic drinks consumed by all U.S. generations in 10 years, up from 24% today, while beer will fall from 41% to 38%, according to Nielsen.

The test for marketers is to gain loyalty from young drinkers whose tastes are only now emerging. For some wine companies, that means putting members of the generation in charge of their brands. At Treasury Wine Estates in Napa, for instance, a 26-year-old is a member of a team of 20- and 30-somethings planning the national launch early next year of Sledgehammer, which is targeting the male millennial market.  Marketed as a “no-fuss” wine, the brand “eschews really traditional wine speak” like “this smells of cherries and berries and that type of thing.”  But the wine will also seek to subtly educate the new generation of wine drinkers, possibly using booklets of wine facts presented in a way that’s “funny and sarcastic.”

Some companies have formed special millennial divisions, such as The Wine Group, maker of Franzia, whose Underdog Wine Merchants unit is enjoying big success with Cupcake Vineyards. The brand was the 14th-best-selling wine for the four-week period ending Oct. 31, with sales jumping 250%.

Still, marketers risk overplaying their hand if they reach out too aggressively to the generation, known for its suspicion of overt selling tactics. For instance, some industry executives are noticing a backlash against trendy, edgier wine labels.

Edit by AMW

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Full Article:

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How Is America Going To End? The top 144 scenarios.

August 21, 2009

From Slate magazine ….

Here’s a sampling:

1. Electromagnetic Pulse: A nuclear weapon detonated at high elevation could knock out the country’s electrical infrastructure, sending us back to the Stone Age. The congressional EMP Commission says an electromagnetic pulse “is one of a small number of threats that can hold our society at risk of catastrophic consequences.”

2. Foreign Invasion: The Red Dawn scenario: A hostile alliance of foreign powers dispatches a team of elite combat troops to America. They launch a coordinated assault with thousands of paratroopers on key military and communications installations, dealing the U.S. government a fatal blow.

3. Russia Hits the Button: Nobel Prize-winning physicist Steven Weinberg says the United States should fear “a mistaken attack on our country by the huge Russian arsenal of nuclear weapons.” As recently as 1995, a “retaliatory” nuclear strike was barely averted when Russian officials figured out at the last second that what they thought was an enemy strike was really a craft launched to monitor the Northern lights.

4. Loose Nukes: Taliban fighters wrest nuclear weapons from a destabilized Pakistan. Or al-Qaida acquires a small arsenal of nukes from a disintegrating Russia. The nonstate actors launch against the United States in an attack exponentially worse than 9/11.

5. Dirty Bombs: Terror groups armed with “radiological dispersal devices”—a cocktail of radioactive material and garden-variety explosives—launch coordinated attacks in a dozen major cities. The attacks destabilize the government and break our spirit. The terrorists win.

6. Abandonment: After a series of devastating attacks, Washington admits it can no longer protect large swaths of the nation. The United States contracts to a smaller core that’s easier to defend.

7. Suicidal Tyrant: An Ahmadinejad-like figure strikes at the heart of the Great Satan, launching nuclear weapons at major American cities and pushing the country to anarchy.

8. Internal Guerrilla Warfare: Smugglers and street gangs join forces to contest the authority of the U.S. government—first along the Mexican border and later in pockets of major cities—in order to maintain control of lucrative illicit markets.

9. Mercenary Armies: As in the seventh season of 24, a military contractor goes rogue and attacks the United States. Not even Jack Bauer can save us.

10. Space Attacks: A coalition of malevolent nations with hyper-advanced space programs strikes at the United States from the outer limits, disrupting all of our communications and rendering our conventional Army powerless.

11. Information War: A rogue state, terror organization, or group of malevolent hackers takes down America’s infrastructure by infiltrating every system that’s controlled by computers: television stations, traffic signals, telecommunications, the stock market, the power grid. As seen in Live Free or Die Hard.

12. Push-Button Warfare: Nanoscale production allows anyone to make tanks and flying drones with the press of a button. With sophisticated weaponry available to all, the nation-state ceases to be an important entity.

13. Peak Oil: Petroleum production reaches terminal decline. Oil becomes too expensive to extract, and alternative energies can’t maintain our fossil-fuel-dependent lifestyle. The developed world goes kaput, with gas-happy America leading the way to the gutter.

14. Peak Water: The overpopulated, overheated Southwest runs out of H20, instigating mass migration to Canada.

15. Overpopulation: A spike in birth rates—or massive levels of immigration—increases the population of the United States to 1 billion. America doesn’t have the carrying capacity to support its new crush of citizens, and a die-off ensues.

For #16 to #144, go to the full article:

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Thanks to Jim C for the lead.

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Nine driving forces to watch in 2009

January 5, 2009

The best list I’ve seen so far.  I especially like #4 … and I agree with the logic.

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Excerpted from IBD, “Nine Possibilities Heading Into 2009”,  December 31, 2008

1. A Less Safe Homeland ?

Will Obama take the heat from the left of his own party and boldly use his constitutional authority as president to go the extra mile in protecting the country, as  Bush did, or will he dilute the indispensable tools that have helped keep us safe since the 9/11 attacks ? 

We’ll see. Promising to get Osama bin Laden sounds great in a campaign; governing requires more than catchphrases.

2. Stimulus Pushes Deficit To $1 Tril

Late in 2008, talk centered around a deal involving up to $800 billion in new spending, focused mainly on infrastructure and so-called Green Jobs. Tax cuts of $150 billion or more will focus on the middle class. Under Obama, those who no longer pay any taxes will surge from 44 million currently to more than 50 million, as those in the top 5% of incomes shoulder a greater share of the tax burden.

Obama’ s stimulus, along with the nearly $2 trillion in outlays for 2008’s financial and auto bailout, will push the deficit to more than $1 trillion — 7% of GDP, the biggest deficit since 1946.

Republican efforts to cut capital gains taxes — a proven way to strong economic and job growth — will fail.

Businesses may start feeling left out, and the GOP will try to make it a wedge issue in congressional elections of 2010.  

3. China Falls Into Recession

After decades of stunning 10% GDP growth, China’s economy stumbled late in 2008. It will continue to slow in 2009 — and possibly beyond. The main trigger for their slump: Soaring energy prices during early 2008, and a steep decline in U.S. demand for China’s goods.

If China grows by 5% or less over the next year or so, it won’t create enough jobs and will face serious social pressures that could break into open violence.

Despite its rapid growth, China still only ranks No. 81 on the U.N.’s human development index, a gauge that combines health, education and income. Things are far worse for the more than half of China’s 1.3 billion people who live in rural areas.

4. Recovery In The U.S.?

The U.S. economy will pull out of its recession as a massive home inventory overhang is worked off, oil prices stay low, trillions of dollars in stimulus and bailout funds are put to work and Fed interest-rate cuts kick in.

Banks and finance companies will start lending again, and rising demand will push companies to hire.

World demand for oil will fall, as it did in 2008.  And since each 10-cent drop in gas prices is equal to a $12 billion tax cut, the U.S. will get a “silent” tax cut of about $295 billion.

The bear market in stocks — which are one of the economy’s best leading indicators — should be drawing to a close. This bear is now in its 15th month, and most don’t last more than 15 or 16. Nine to 10 is more like it.

5. Energy Fever, Climate Change Cool Off

The cooling trend that began in 1998 will continue as solar activity remains dormant. Last year was the coolest year in a decade.

As the evidence grows, more scientists will join the list of climate “deniers,” as protests arise in Europe and the U.S. over expensive alternate-energy schemes that slow global economic recovery.

But as long as crude remains below $70 a barrel — the make-or-break level for many energy projects and alternative energy — Congress will continue to drag its feet on drilling for more oil and gas in the U.S.

6. Big Labor Fights For Relevance

Organized labor made a big deal about its $400 million in campaign spending to win the election for Democrats in 2008.

But as 2009 rolls in, all that cash is starting to look less like power projection and more like a last-gasp bid to go for broke.

The big problem is that in a weak economy, the union agenda is incompatible with economic growth. Businesses can’t grow and create jobs in an atmosphere where workers are forced into unions and free trade is restricted. Given the choice of a recovering economy or a satisfied union base, Obama is likely to tilt toward saving the economy, if only for the sake of his own political viability.

Unions want to show they still matter after watching their share of the U.S. work force shrink from 31.4% in 1960 to less than 12% today.

Two fronts will emerge: “card-check” — a change to the National Labor Relations Act that would eliminate secret ballots to make organizing new unions easier — and free-trade pacts.  

7. Obama Seeks Health Care Reform

Even health care experts sympathetic to Obama’s goals argue the president-elect understates his plan’s costs. Obama’s plan of near universal coverage means “a $100 billion infusion of new health care spending.”

ObamaCare’s massive new spending will be a tough political sell, especially with taxpayers already footing the bill for bailouts of banks and the auto sector, and millions of Americans losing their jobs.

Obama will insist that a big government health care reform is imperative for economic recovery, imposing the kind of socialized medicine found in France, Britain and Canada, where waiting lists and substandard quality are the norm.

8. India Gets Assertive

India’s citizens have gained a lot from their opening to the world in 1991 and they aren’t about to give it up. But threats remain from the global economic downturn and terror attacks out of Pakistan.

Fiscal stimulus is on the plate, and possibly more defense spending. The government may tighten its alliance with the U.S. to modernize its military.

As a large market, India will forge closer trade ties with markets like the U.S., Japan, and EU.

9. Israel Gets Rid Of Iran’s Nuclear Threat

Will Israel use its altercation with the Iranian-backed Hamas as a stepping stone toward a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities?

The signs are that an Obama Administration, committed to “tough diplomacy,” will be less likely to let Israel take matters into its own hands and strike Tehran.

Lack of U.S. support would make such airstrikes more difficult, and leave Israel even more vulnerable politically on the world stage.

Still, Israel might be tempted to go for broke, taking out Iran’s burgeoning nuclear threat rather than letting Tel Aviv go up in a mushroom cloud.

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Full article: 

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