January 10, 2012            The Futures Five:            Five signals of change shaping the future of the marketplace     ...
Agent of Change: Peter Thiel The Silicon Valley power player and original Facebook investor is voicing his frustration tha...
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The Futures Five: Introducing The Futures Five


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Five signals of change shaping the future of the marketplace

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The Futures Five: Introducing The Futures Five

  1. 1. 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.
  2. 2. Agent of Change: Peter Thiel The Silicon Valley power player and original Facebook investor is voicing his frustration that America has “lost its belief in the future.” He’s investing large sums of money on big, bold projects, such as an offshore colony free of government regulation and a program that gives students $100,000 to skip college so they can develop world- changing innovations. The takeaway: While Thiel’s radical solutions aren’t for everyone, he’s addressing the growing perception that one of America’s greatest competitive advantages—its innovative culture—is on the wane. Fully 41% of Americans agree, “I have lost confidence in the ability of American ingenuity to solve our problems in the long run.” (Source: Yankelovich MONITOR, 4th quarter 2011) Yet, as we outline in our 2011-2012 State of the Consumer report, “Looking for a New Way Forward,” an Experimental Culture is forming in which consumers are open to “new leaps of faith” in order to address the problems of today and tomorrow. Marketers who leverage this deep desire for new, breakthrough and different ideas are likely to be rewarded.Growing issue: The “mobility gap.” As the New York Times reported last week, the United States lags behind Canada and much of Western Europe in economic mobility. According to a recent study, 42% of American men raised in the bottom fifth of incomes remain there as adults, a far higher percentage than in Britain (30%) and Denmark (25%). The takeaway: New marketing strategies that go beyond the American Dream are perhaps required to connect with low-income consumers, whose social mobility is challenged by today’s economic reality. In these hardened, demanding times, recognizing and rewarding the effort instead of the results—the “grit” and not the “get”—and pointing to alternative metrics of success beyond the material are recommended.Misfire: Childrens healthcare campaignIn an attempt to “wake up” Georgia residents, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta released a series of incendiary adstaking on childhood obesity. One showed an image of a young, overweight girl with the warning, “It’s hard to be alittle girl if you’re not.” The takeaway: Solutions are certainly needed to address the obesity epidemic (particularly in Georgia, which has the second-highest childhood obesity rate in the country). These ads, however, target the wrong drivers of the problem. Consumers are already aware of the problem and desire to change. As we outline in our recent report, “How to Sell Healthy,” consumers are challenged to find health solutions that they can live with long-term. While Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta campaign was effective in creating buzz, it does little to help people make the difficult sustained changes necessary to live a healthy lifestyle. Marketers who recognize the challenges consumers face and who understand the fundamentals of successful health solutions are far more likely to put a dent in obesity than those who employ a modern-day Scarlet Letter-type campaign. What do you think of The Futures Five? Let us know by sending us feedback to MonMinute@thefuturescompany.com © 2012 by The Futures Company