January 10, 2012 The Futures Five: Five signals of change shaping the future of the marketplace Sign of the times: The rise of the “househusband.” According to this week’s Bloomberg BusinessWeek cover story, the number of men in the US who regularly care for children under age five has risen to 32%, up from 19% in 1988. The takeaway: With over 51% of professional/managerial jobs now going to women and a growing higher education gap between the sexes, the trend of men taking on more of the household responsibilities, including shopping, is likely to grow stronger. These changes will require household needs marketers looking for new sources of growth to target an audience that has wholly different shopping styles. But perhaps more important is what these shifts in gender roles mean for the modern male and his sense of self. As men adjust to their shifting role in the family, marketers will be challenged to update their messaging accordingly. Revived idea: Layaway Layaway was the unexpected hit of the holiday season. As The Wall Street Journal reported, retailers such as Toys “R” Us and Wal-Mart expanded the practice; Target even blamed its slow toy sales on the lack of a layaway program. The takeaway: Contrary to the widespread post-recession predictions that penny-pinching and extreme thrift would define the future marketplace, we’ve long believed that frugality is a coping strategy, not an aspiration. Yet the lessons learned during the recession, such as responsibility, discipline and prioritized spending, are likely to stay with consumers even as the economy continues to show signs of improvement. Layaway is an example of the type of offering that delivers what consumers desire most in this recovery marketplace: The ability to live richly within one’s means, splurging while still remaining in control and financially responsible.