Get ready for a rough and bouncing ride through the next 12–15 months ahead.
Not only is 2020 a land-mark calendar year and the beginning of a new decade, it’s a political election year that has the news media foaming-at-the-mouth.
I laugh when I Google search top trends others cite. Not sure just where these folks dwell or what they eat or what they toke, but there is no question that many are past junkies of the Jetsons.
Just as the media foams at the mouth over politics, the armchair trend forecasters do something similar with technology and their perception that it will ultimately overtake human beings.
My bet is that many of those forecasting what they believe is the future unfolding are the same geeks that you see at the coffee houses doing work on their laptops, interacting with peers on their smart phones and listening to music through their headphones… all at the same time.
Rarely do the geeks physically venture far outside their tight geographic neighborhoods nor interact with the human society around them.
Okay… so what is happening out there in the real world of the Smiths and the Jones?
While we are still 90 days out from the beginning of 2020, there are FIVE market dynamics that I have observed over the course of this calendar year. FIVE dynamics that are forming into full-force trends that will impact businesses, new ventures, political candidates and brand strategy in the next several years to come.
Here are the five dynamics at play…
(1) National BIG brands are fading from being the desired and sought out brands
(2) Millennials are recrafting the models of suburbia and intown communities
(3) There is a working class in America that many refuse to recognize
(4) Kids are back and Kids R Us
(5) House & Home is taking the limelight away from social media
The Shift Away from The BIG Brands
You know the brands I am talking about…
Budweiser, Restaurant Chains like Red Lobster and Ruby Tuesday, Payless Shoes, Kellogg’s, Campbell Soup, Macy’s, Kraft Brands, Wells Fargo, NIKE, Coca-Cola, Academy Sports, Office Depot, J.Crew, David’s Bridal and American Airlines.
Even the tech brands that Wall Street thought were invincible are not…
AOL, Verizon, FaceBook, Yahoo, Google and Apple.
While I do not agree with many of the techie “Tall Tale” predictions, I will be quick to give some credit to online retail as being one of the factors playing a role in this market shift.
However, online retail is more of a market disruptor than a true alternative option.
As much as we hear news about the increasing diversity of the American populace, it causes me to ponder just what the national BIG brands believe is their audience equity of stability.
Corporate leadership slips when it believes that being the biggest is better than being the most distinct. When targeting “all of the above” vs. having equity of a niche does not work.
Millennials thrive in executing their sense of a “personal signature” of style and selection. Being a part of the masses is not a personal objective. Their parents, the Boomers are also following what their Millennial kids are advocating.
Local is not just a physical location of brand origin, but something that invites a sense of personal signature and conveys a sense of personal co-ownership / equity.
And… the Zoomers are quickly becoming a major market factor not only as the enter colleges, universities and the hourly-pay retail workforce, but as they take on the role of the parental influencer of their GenXer parents.
The BIG brands think that buying up the local, new start-ups is a guarantee of survival. The terms spelled “M-O-N-O-P-O-L-Y” will become a common term that will be voiced by many in the news, social media apps and board rooms in the next 12–18 months.
Millennials Re-Crafting the Neighborhoods
As many of the readers know, I reside the majority of the week in one of the intown neighborhoods of the Atlanta metro.
And what I have been immersed in Atlanta is also happening in other metros of the U.S.
The Millennials ARE moving out to the suburbs where homes are affordable and the public schools more productive.
At the same time, Millennials ARE ALSO moving into intown neighborhoods — maybe not the ones smack next to the city-centers or the transit lines or the corporate hi-rises — but neighborhoods that do sport town squares, parks and local elementary schools all of which are walk-accessible.
In BOTH the intown neighborhoods AND the suburban neighborhoods, the Millennials are re-crafting the layouts, mechanics, character and personality of the neighborhoods.
Now if you are co-dependent on the trade and mass media, and you read the statement above, then my bet is you figure the neighborhoods are now overloaded with headsets, smart phones, Amazon delivery trucks, Uber drivers, order online drive-thru lanes and rent-by-the-hour scooters.
Rich insights are not bestowed on the masses.
Surprising to some, whether intown or in suburbia, home gardening, front porches, bike paths, weekend farmer’s markets, libraries, outdoor dining, local coffee houses, community play grounds and green space is becoming more integrated into the landscapes and community gathering squares.
Many of the neighborhoods are trendy and sport the latest trends in style, food, retail and entertainment. Some are being revived from the past. Some are actually re-authoring their past. Some are emerging from abandoned tracks of land.
Live-work-play is coming to life in places many thought not even possible.
There’s even some sources that now label this mix of intown and suburban locations with more trendy Millennial charm as America’s new Hipsturbia neighborhoods.
And yes… there are more SUVs, more strollers, more smart phones, more bicycles, and more kids found along those new walkways and grocery store isles.
The Millennials are the community-generation and that paradigm of dwelling is getting incorporated in BOTH the suburban and intown neighborhood models of the past.
Working Class America
I remember back in the days of my youth that for some members of my family, the unions were sacred institutions.
It was the family members who went to work in the factories while the unions negotiated and secured the family paychecks for the food on the tables.
As much as the media and the marketers like to promote “diversity” and “individuality,” it’s the media and the marketers that fail to understand the working class of today’s America.
But the fact is that there is a large and growing American working class and it is perhaps even more a viable part of the marketplace today as it was 60 years ago.
Many get hooked on thinking that the working class is “blue-collar” labor and when they see that blue-collar employed represents only 1 out of every 5 jobs, they quickly dismiss any significant player.
The media loves to divide it up into more digest-able groupings based on ethnic, cultural, educational, status of citizenship, neighborhood character and geographical labels.
Just as the union working class of the past was diverse across nationality and cultural origin, the same holds true today. And just as much as the union working class was generationally diverse and family-anchored, the same is also true today.
Some live by the old stereotype that the only way for a working class to exist, it has to be anchored in manufacturing jobs.
As the economy grew in the last several years and unemployment has plunged to historic lows, the working class has exploded.
This includes conventional blue-collar and trade, but also the teams working at Starbucks and McDonalds, health support staff at hospitals, diagnostic centers and nursing homes, the folks driving the Amazon, UPS and FEDEX trucks, the guys and gals mowing the lawns, cleaning out the gutters and blowing away the leaves.
When I hear the press and trend leadership claim that the malls are history, I know immediately they have limited knowledge of Working Class America. I encourage many of the readers of this blog to journey over to the nearest mall and do some ethnographic observational research.
While fair pay and quality work environments matter, so too does the value of family, childcare for working moms, access to educational advancement, retirement planning and individual respect.
Some of you reading this might wonder if that group is really a trend-maker.
In my opinion, the working class just might be the stars of the stage show about to begin called the 2020 Presidential Election.
Kids R Us
No question that the Boomers have been trend-setters. No question that the generation that they birthed and cultured called the Millennials have been trend-setters.
In 2020, Generation Alpha is expected to push beyond beyond 25 million in size. Comprised of kids age 0–5 next year, it will be about half the size of Generation X which is estimated to be about 52 million.
In 2035, 15 years from now, Generation Alpha will be age 5–20 years old and topping out at close to 75 million in size… just shy of their Millennial parents’ generation that is estimated in 2020 to total just over 78 million.
If you as a reader think that the Internet, smart phones and virtual reality will suffice Generation Alpha and replace everything from puzzles, toys, bikes, books, crayons, outdoor sports, swimming pools and snack foods, then I have some land for sale that you need to invest in.
Generation Alpha already is re-configuring the social American landscape. Parents, working moms, stay-at-home dads, Boomer grandparents and extended family care-givers are driving change.
As I have shared in other blogs, the idea that online websites will be the shopping forum of the future is something that the techies conjured up in rooms where no one under 18 years old dwelled.
When a 5-year old demands that mom get that puzzle and chocolate snack, even same-day shipment is not soon enough.
The #1 Trend in the 2019 EXPERIENCE Trendcast is anchored on the Millennial Families and the emergence of Generation Alpha.
Here in Atlanta, we have a cool brand just premiering called Kefi, a experiential anchored retail site of toys, games, classes, coffee café and parental workspace. Watch as Kefi expands along with the premier of the next version of kids-anchored fast food and toy stores and Putt Putt courses and movie theater and theme parks and swing-sets and coloring books and…
Something fun to watch is how quickly “seeing through the eyes of a child” will become the driving topic of the self-help websites, holistic wellness centers and aisles of the bookstores.
The best thing that the marketers have available is the creativity of the child that high tech… and its linear lines of logic… has left behind.
My House & Home Space
Not sure how many of the blog readers even remember Myspace.com.
Back in 2005 — soon-to-be 15 years ago — Myspace.com was the largest social networking site in the world. Bigger and more dimensional than FaceBook.
Even back in 2005, I wrote a blog that observed how Myspace.com was an early perspective of how Millennials would exist in their Home Space.
Even now, there are many in the industry and media world that believe all that matters to Millennials is the “digital environment” of social media “home” pages.
My suggestion is come join me on a tour of the house & home aisle of Target… or the gardening section of a Home Depot… or the paint and hardware sections of the neighborhood Ace Hardware.
While websites can be visual, audio and text anchored, they cannot be tactile nor sensory in terms of smell, texture, lighting and temperature.
As Millennials translate their sense of self to their home cocoons, the dimensional aspect of the home space is becoming the new dwelling space… literally.
From showcasing to cocooning to interconnecting to interacting, the house & home is the Millennials’ new stage set.
And let’s not leave the other generational groups behind. Many GenXers are on the verge of becoming empty-nesters. Boomers are now downsizing or exploring the dream pads that they did not have in their past.
Whether it’s an apartment, loft, condo, bungalow, retro or model home, it is where many are setting the new social platform for connectivity, relationship-building and personal retreat.
The dimensional expansion of the home experience is setting new spatial demands.
Tearing down the walls is being replaced with creation and definition of separate spaces.
“Man caves” and “She-Shedds” are no longer hip.
What were once labeled as “family rooms” are now being referred to as “play space.” What was once labeled as a “study,” and then an “office” is now being referred to as “work-from-home space.” “Breakfast” rooms are now referred to as “gathering” rooms.
Believe it or not, but “dining rooms” still referred to as “dining rooms” are actually hip again.
As more and more is bought, “storage rooms” walled off from the daily flow of traffic are forecast to being hip again too.
Walls are actually going back up and personal space is getting carved out.
Something to watch for is the re-branding and re-launch of DIY-TV to a new House & Home Network authored by Chip & Joanna Gaines of HGTV’s Fixer Upper show.
Use The Next 90 Days
Over the course of the next couple of months, you will see, hear and read about the next wave of changes that will shape 2020.
As I always say… each year since I opened up EXPERIENCE… take a couple of field trips and get out of your comfort zone. Go and dwell with the people who you likely do not commonly dwell among.
And start up some conversation. Ask them about what they see as changing. Ask them about what they see as hip and hot. Ask them what they sense is no longer cool.
No question that you will see a connection with the five dynamics I cite in this blog… your calling is to next find out ways in which your brand will embrace them!