Here’s a half dozen trends I see coming down the pike over the next year or so. (I mean hey, I have as much chance of being right as anybody.)
1. UPPER MIDDLE CLASS ANGST LEADS TO A POPULIST RESURGENCE: As everyone from lawyers and doctors to ad guys and record company execs continues to feel the affects of the growing gap between Wall Streeters, 2.0 Winners and the rest of us, the top 9.5% of the income pool will join with the bottom 90% to wreak vengeance on the billionaires. Okay, maybe not vengeance. But look for an increased top tax bracket on incomes over say $500K, taxes on stock options and other get-out-of-paying-taxes tricks of the rich and famous, as well as reinstatement of the estate tax.
2. EXPERTS ARE THE NEW BLACK: There are only so many amateur videos you can watch. Or badly written blogs you can read. Experts of all sorts stage a resurgence, as people crave well-written articles by people who know their subjects, and well-crafted videos by people who have some experience. Some mainstream publications get in on the act, finding talented amateurs (aka “fresh voices”) and mixing them in with their existing staffers. Grateful consumers, tired of wading through 3,000 Google hits for “review of new Ryan Gosling movie” respond with fervor.
3. MAP READING SKILLS EVAPORATE: Blame it on ubiquitous GPS systems. People’s overreliance on the devices means they forget even simple routes (like home to supermarket) and become slaves to the dulcet tones of the GPS babe. This is a similar trend to the way no one remembers phone numbers anymore thanks to cell phones, to the point that teens and college students form groups on Facebook to re-collect their friends' phone numbers when they lose their cell phones.
4. GREEN BECOMES THE NEW CLASS MARKER: As upper income consumers gladly pay through the nose for any and all products alleged to be “green” or “organic,” the lower end of the income spectrum rebels, seeing these products as the pretentious province of much despised yuppie scum and merely another overpriced marketing gimmick.
5. NEW LOVE IS FOUND FOR TV COMMERCIALS: Media companies find ways to include advertising on TV shows no matter what the delivery method is. Thus lessening the effect of the defection of the upscale viewing audience to iTunes, On Demand, Hulu and DVRs. Marketers simultaneously realize that few advertising vehicles deliver as much reach as TV and that chasing consumers through an ever-shifting maze of blogs, virtual worlds and social networking sites just isn’t worth the effort.
6. ACCEPTANCE OF ONLINE ADVERTISING AS A BRANDING DEVICE: Marketers finally realize that people aren’t going to click away from a website they’re engaged with just because they see an banner ad for a product they might be interested in, thus signaling the slow death of the term “click through rate” as banners are relegated to the same “awareness building” tactic status as billboards and other outdoor media.