Friday, October 2, 2015

2016 Trendcast Part#2 — The Next Five

In response to my posting of the first five trends, a handful of my peers contacted me and wanted to chat.

Most of the conversation was focused around Millennials. Many corporate brand teams are beginning to finally embrace them.

I laugh most of time. Unless you are a brand that caters to the elderly you have no choice.

No question as I share the next five, the Millennials are driving a lot of what’s hitting us with each of the trends. But like in the very next one, the Boomers are also on stage playing an important co-lead role!

Trendcast #6 — The Downsizing of House & Home

The less-is-more philosophy has come home to roost with square footage taking a back seat to quality, functionality, charm and character.

This is not just a reflection of the empty-nest Boomers and just-coupled Millennials seeking less space for two.

The cost of housing is soaring.

Bloomberg Business published an article this past spring titled, “Housing’s 30 Percent-of-Income Rule Is Near Useless.”

The article goes on to post that 41 million of U.S. households are now paying more than 50% of the their monthly income on housing.

Rents are climbing too.

About three-quarters of Millennials no longer living with their parents (just over 26%) are renting and nearly half of those not coupled are having to net a roommate to afford the space.

One of the major changes that will hit housing a lot more in 2016 and beyond will be the downsizing of the average dwelling space square footage.

HGTV’s Tiny House programming is so much a hit among the growing Millennial audience groups that HGTV is now expanding small home space programming.

“Loft” condos are popular today more because the space visually appears larger than because retro loft décor is hip and cool.

And the likes of Pier 1 and IKEA in the home furnishings retail arena might be perceived as lower price, but when you talk to the buyers making the purchases, they very quickly talk about the furniture pieces “fitting better” in their “smaller home space.”

Where the impact will be hitting in 2016 the most will be on homebuilders and architects.

Many of the homebuilders believe that custom homes always should be big. And the smaller share that are still into developments and spec homes still think that the larger the square footage the better even if it means jamming more houses on the limited land space.

Not too sure that those homebuilders will see their inventory moving as quickly in 2016.

The impact on furniture will continue in 2016 as more personality emerges, but watch for more small space décor enhancements in texture and patterns as well as novel ways to multi-use space.

Trendcast #7 — DIY to DIO — (Do It Ourselves)

Their Baby Boomer parents sometimes were labeled as “groupies,” but the label was used more to describe the following of rock stars than how Boomers took on tasks.

The Millennials umbilical cord to social media today has translated to group bonds that are now part of most anything they do.

(LOL… as you read further, you will see that a percentage even continue to chat with online friends as they are having sex!)

If you watch any of the competitive count-downs on HGTV, Food Network, History Channel or even Animal Planet, you will see quickly how teams compete against teams vs. individuals competing against individuals.

Out is personal pursuit. Grrrrhhhh… self-centered, entrepreneurs out for their own innovative self-pursuit.

In is collective goal setting and team achievement. Its all about we, not me!

Employees today — white collar and professional — work better in environments that resemble or duplicate the communal spirit of a coffee house than the isolation environment of a private office.

According to, the number of co-working spaces worldwide is now doubling every year.

Some of the ad agency management I work with has replaced their desks with IKEA kitchen tables which are much more welcoming of others even if someone elects to join them and work on another client project at the same table.

A psychologist friend of mine and I have observed that just as much as individuals seek out co-working space, the bottomline is that many work in the communal space focused in their own bubble-land of the laptops, iPads and iPhones.

This trend will hit hard and fast in 2016.

Early Target Holiday spots are scripted around communal fashion vs. individual identity.

Hamburger Helper ads feature family together times around the kitchen co-working to get food on the table.

Buick ads showcase their new 24 hour test drive offers as a way for “all involved in the purchase decision” to have their chance to drive the Buick and determine if it meets the wholistic needs of all.

Trendcast #8 — The Unconnected Sub-Generation

You will hear a lot about the unconnected in 2016. It’s a presidential election year.

Here’s some interesting factoids…

  • About half of Americans don’t know what “GOP” stands for…and about 75% of those are either Democrats or Independents
  • Just over 40% cannot name who is the Vice President
  • About 30% think that “Google” is a cartoon character on television
  • When asked where Apple branded products are sold, more than a third of adults less than 40 years of age say in grocery stores
  • 40% have no idea the century in which the American Revolution took place
  • 30% do not know in what year 9–11 took place
  • 65% cannot name even one of the Supreme Court Justices

I don’t share these stats to showcase the ignorant or the uneducated.

The “Unconnected Sub-Generation” literally lives their lives with limited, if any, interest or investment in the reality of the world around them.

The Sub-Generation is comprised of a combination of Millennials, Tweeners and GenXers.

Few have college degrees, but if they do, it is often a liberal arts degree.

Most work to pay their monthly bills and fund access to fun people and fun stuff. Most of the fun is accessed via the web. Nearly all perceive money as a plastic card.

They connect with programming on networks like FX, Sy-Fy, TruTV, E! Entertainment, Cartoon Network, TLC and Animal Planet. They play online games and venture into virtual reality lands. They text their “friends” about little outside the here and now of their own unconnected worlds.

But as much as they are perceived as literally stupid by folks living a connected life, the Unconnected Sub-Generation is sought out by national politicians and drive the sales of the mass brands.

You find yourself watching ads and wondering… what did that ad just communicate of value… What did that ad even have to do with the brand?

Next time that happens, you now know that the ads are designed to reach the Unconnected Sub-Generation… and not you!

Some sources cite economic stagnation and the daily threat of crime and terrorism as forces creating the Unconnected Sub-Generation… and yet, others cite information overload.

As we move into 2016, I already have had a client ask me if there are avenues to research and define this group more.

Trendcast #9 — The Celebration of Purity

Not to say that where I live is the trendiest part of the ATL, but it’s close!

Most of the new housing is either tear-down-re-builds or home renovations.

With my recent move into some new digs in Atlanta, I have spent a lot of time visiting the nearby Home Depot and Lowe’s.

In a number of my recent visits, I have been amazed at how many folks — from Millennials to Boomers — are purchasing paint for their homes and the most popular color is…

White or Beige.

When I ask them why they are selecting white or a variation of white, the response is almost always the same… “it’s so nice and clean…so pure.”

If you think I am making this up… go visit Elle Décor’s website and see the stories about the “18 whites to make your space feel cozy” and “the 25+ white kitchens to inspire your next remodel.”

However, interior paint colors is only one area of where purity is securing top priority.

Think about it… the top three GOP candidates do not come from past political roles.

Check out…

  • Water-only energy drinks are hot and hip because of their clarity and non-contaminated compositions
  • “Organic” and “free range” are perceived as healthier because they are non-violated by chemicals, hormones … not even pruning nor containment!
  • “Gospel” and “Soul” are re-emerging because of their “purified” originality and “purified” roots
  • While virginity might be part of the past, self-directed abstinence is emerging as the new form of self-purity and self-cleansing, especially in Hollywood and 5th Avenue
  • More clothing retailers are showcasing white as the new fashion statement
  • An iPhone video is perceived as more honest than one filmed by a professional crew

As more and more of reality coupled with dishonesty and lack of justice intrudes into our daily intake of news and information, there appears to be more and more emphasis on seeking out the pure and un-contaminated.

Watch how much more this trend will surface in 2016 as the election takes front and center.

Trendcast #10 — The Sustainable Reality of Work-Life Balance

More and more and more and more and… more… articles, apps, resources and classes are popping up to help individuals balance work and life-away-from work.

Although a healthy work-life balance is the spoken goal of many individuals today, so few attain that goal.

In fact, in a 2015 study completed by PSFK Labs, 80% of the adults age 25–54 feel critical stress on the job.

The Millennials believe that they can craft career-development pathways in which work and life can operate in unison.

The reality is that it can’t and the Millennials are quickly coming to realize that if they truly want to own a home someday, they have to have job security and maybe even receive a few sizeable raises in pay.

The GenXers might be the most reality-driven generational group in the perception of work-life balance. They have already faced the reality that with kids at home, jobs at stake and mortgages to pay, they have cannot live in the ideal balance.

And Boomers, now faced with the challenges of retirement post the Great Recession, realize that a balance of work-life may be more of an ongoing challenge upon turning age 60 than they originally thought.

Here’s some true-reality stats among the adults age 25–54 surveyed:

  • 79% feel it will be harder to reach their financial goals now than in the midst of the Great Recession
  • 70% check their smart phones every 6 minutes
  • 40% of employees working for a company of 50+ employees are required to be in contact with the business outside of work
  • 20% have actually checked their Emails on their smart phones in the middle of havng sex!

As much as past Trendcasts have highlighted the ideal and what was perceived as business and brand outcomes in the marketplace, watch as we move into 2016 as more websites, speakers, workshops and business management courses will focus on “there’s no such thing as the perfect work-life balance.”

Part of this trend is being driven by the aging Millennial — and even further, the home-owning, parental Millennial — and even further, the Millennial whose own parents moved away and raised the “your on your own now honey” banner.

Part of the trend is being driven by GenXers and Boomers who have long aspired to be the boss and are now facing the reality of a Millennial being their boss.

We will see this same live-work reality factor take a role in marketing and advertising.

Look for more brands to feature experiential payouts in the midst of stress and conflict.

A Parting For Now…

I look forward to presenting this 2016 Trendcast to some cool groups over the next few months. No question that there will be challenges and doubts raised, but my bet is there will be more heads shaking confirmation.

Generational changes, the advancement of technology and the inescapable connection points with reality are critical “movers and shakers” at work right now.

Sometimes in the midst of owning EXPERIENCE, I wish for a day in which I can let go and just be one of a team… and then again, when I get home and cuddle with my dog and watch COPS or Housewives of Orange County, I think maybe I can gain membership in the Unconnected Sub-Generation.

But about the time I think about it, I get a phone call from a CEO, entrepreneur or politician about the challenge they face and ask when can we meet to discuss ways to move their brands forward.

I enjoy what I do and have fun!

And lastly… my personal celebration of purity is single barrel bourbon over the rocks.