at the intersection of brands, media and culture

Trends Cause Trends

In trends on June 11, 2008 at 10:40 am


roadtrip feet

Originally uploaded by heathre

I’m not a big fan of futurists and trendspotters. I’ve listened to them, read them, even set out to hire one or two. The rub is that they tend to be great at spotting things early (at best), or telling me what I already know to be true (at worst). Few seem to be able to contribute to the next phase of the discussion which begins with “so what” and ends with “and how.”

For instance, gas prices are rising. YES. This will disrupt holidays, vacations, the great American road trip. YES. But what about the 10 year view? What will take their place and what will happen as a result?

Here are some things that I’m thinking about.

Kids in sports. The SoccerMom and MiniVan dad are going to have to question the return on investment of going to all of those games and running back and forth to practices. There will be other trade-offs made first. Mom & Dad may forgo date night. Dad won’t get a new pair of shoes even though he could really use them. The kids will come first in these occasions. But…over time I predict that the extracirculars that have become part of the over-scheduled generation will be cut back. This will lead to more family time and also more independent time for kids.

I’m also thinking about the weakness of the dollar (which yes, is a major component of rising gasoline prices). As folks start to cut back on pleasure travel what effect will this have on how Americans view the global community in which we all live. When study abroads are questioned, when people don’t venture out of the country because airlines have raised prices and don’t go on roadtrips because gas is too high, how do you learn about cultures that aren’t familiar? On the web people tend to seek out opinions that mimic and reinforce their own. Television is no better window to the world since most of the world appears through the cable box to be either hungry and poor or power hungry (neither of which aren’t true). And yes, more people from other countries will come to the states because it is more affordable but it doesn’t have the same effect to meet someone from another place as it is to be a stranger in their place. So the question becomes: do rising gasoline prices and a weak dollar actually weaken our understanding of the world and reinforce the isolationism that may have caused a couple wars to begin with?

  1. Parents and Activities:

    These families tend to use these activities as baby sitters (baby entertaining as I call it) for their children and ways to offer opportunities that they never had as a child (at least they tell themselves that). They will rely on ride sharing and car pools more to these activities, they will rely on free church activities and they will rely on the television and computer to help them with their baby entertaining needs. By staying home they may save the television networks with increased ratings.

    Weak Dollar:

    “War is Gods way of teaching Americans geography,” but it doesn’t always work. Only 1 in 7 Americans can find Iraq on a map… the real question is: did Americans have a great understanding of the world before the weak dollar? I certainly think this reinforces isolationism, which is a place that most Americans feel comfortable with. Hence the joker we have as our UN Ambassador.

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