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Looking Back To Look Ahead: A ten-year update on 9/11
Looking Back To Look Ahead: A ten-year update on 9/11
Looking Back To Look Ahead: A ten-year update on 9/11
Looking Back To Look Ahead: A ten-year update on 9/11
Looking Back To Look Ahead: A ten-year update on 9/11
Looking Back To Look Ahead: A ten-year update on 9/11
Looking Back To Look Ahead: A ten-year update on 9/11
Looking Back To Look Ahead: A ten-year update on 9/11
Looking Back To Look Ahead: A ten-year update on 9/11
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Looking Back To Look Ahead: A ten-year update on 9/11

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With the tenth anniversary of 9/11 at hand, it is timely to ask what’s changed over the past decade and what this means for the decade to come. That is the focus of this Future Perspective.

With the tenth anniversary of 9/11 at hand, it is timely to ask what’s changed over the past decade and what this means for the decade to come. That is the focus of this Future Perspective.

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  • 1. Future Perspectives Looking Back to Look Ahead: A Ten-Year Update on 9/11
  • 2. This report is part of the Looking Back to Look Ahead:Future Perspectives seriesof white papers on thelocal and global currents A Ten-Year Update on 9/11shaping the business andconsumer landscape. Each J. Walker Smith, Executive Chairman,Future Perspective tacklesa single issue, dissecting The Futures Companykey data, correctingprevailing wisdom wherenecessary and providingstrategic guidance. In the Wake of 9/11 With the tenth anniversary of 9/11 wave of the 2002 US Yankelovich at hand, it is timely to ask what’s MONITOR to explore some themes changed over the past decade and at issue in the aftermath of 9/11. what this means for the decade These same questions were asked to come. That is the focus of this again in the third-quarter wave of the Future Perspective. 2011 US MONITOR. We track those questions here. Shortly after that tragic day, The Futures Company (née Yankelovich) In our September 26, 2001 conducted a teleconference open assessment of where things were to all that was over-full with clients, headed, we offered a perspective non-clients, media, academics, that ran counter to the view popular other friends of the firm, and even at that moment. We said explicitly our competitors. We took stock of not to expect too much from 9/11 in the mood of America and offered terms of the consumer marketplace. guidance and predictions about the This is how things have turned out. future. That September 26, 2001 Although 9/11 still looms large in the teleconference was later released as public imagination, it is not so big in a white paper entitled, “Trying to Get most people’s lives. Back to Business as Usual in Trying Times.” In this Future Perspective, we assess how well we did in our post-9/11 prognostications and look at some of the ways in which consumers have changed since then. Of special interest are the half-dozen questions specially included in the first-quarter1 © 2011 The Futures Company. All rights reserved.
  • 3. Back to Business as UsualThe consensus that sprang up immediately after 9/11 evidence that that was true. We counseled a different view,was that foreign terrorism on the American mainland with four main points of emphasis.against high-profile targets, that inflicted a large lossof life and that was witnessed in real-time by the entire First, we put the spotlight on what had not changed andcountry, could mean only that everything had changed noted that these were the things that mattered most. Inin an instant. Discontinuity was the common theme fact, this was the main purpose of our September 26, 2001of commentators, even though there was no hard teleconference. To quote ourselves: “I want to urge us to use caution in sorting all of this out … Just as the hype and hyperbole about the Internet during the height of its bubble was way too optimistic, so too do I think that the worry and speculation following the events of September 11 [are] way too pessimistic … [T]here are many who have summarily declared that … life and business have been completely overturned, that nothing will ever be even remotely the same, that everything is different now … [L]et me temper some of these dire prognostications by reminding us [that] … our MONITOR data clearly show, in broad strokes, [that] what was true on September 12 was no different than what was true already on September 10. The marketplace was presenting us with exactly the same challenges.” © 2011 The Futures Company. All rights reserved. 2
  • 4. The biggest discontinuity • Consumer ‘canny’ and control pronounced by pundits was were in ascendance, too, and that people would think and live with it, a rising focus on integrity differently forevermore. Yet, as and authenticity, well ahead of we pointed out in detail, all of the 9/11. available data suggested otherwise. Consumer confidence had dipped in • The mainstreaming of affluence, August, well before 9/11, because of or trading up, was gathering the shaky post-dot-com economy. momentum as well, so we Every post-9/11 survey showed that advised that nothing about 9/11 the reaction of people to that day’s was likely to daunt it. In fact, it tragedy was one of hardy resilience. burst into the ensuing housing People were anxious to rally. As we boom and accumulation frenzy said, “[T]he problem with consumer of the mid-2000s, reminding confidence is exactly the same us at the same time that more before and after the events of intangibles like balance, time September 11.” with family and integrity need not mean less materialism. Second, we believed that America after 9/11 would be shaped by continuities more than by discontinuities, not just in people’s worries, but in their aspirations as well. 9/11 did not trigger a re- evaluation of priorities in life. That, too, was well underway before the events of 9/11. In fact, this trend of reprioritization was the very essence of the MONITOR story we were on the verge of finishing and delivering to clients when 9/11 happened. • In early 2001, the overwhelming majority of consumers were already engaged in active reassessments of what worked and didn’t work in their lives. The numbers looking for balance and for more time with family and community were up dramatically before 9/11.3 © 2011 The Futures Company. All rights reserved.
  • 5. • We argued that paradox and everybody votes alike. We see it irony were too deeply rooted in the echo chambers of media to give way, even to something and information that people now as utterly sobering as the inhabit. We see it in the intensifying events of 9/11. By contrast, interest in localism, from local foods pundits across the ideological to walk-able neighborhoods to spectrum foresaw a withering craft beers to community banks to of contrariness, cynicism, regional tourism. We see it in the confrontation, incivility and lack swelling search for contentment of respect for authorities and and meaning.1 We see it in people institutions. This was perhaps coming together with communities post-9/11 punditry’s biggest self- and families for support and delusion of all. reassurance in their struggles with financial hardships. Intimacy is theThird, intimacy was our forecast of elemental character of life as peoplethe future, by which we meant an look ahead to a world of growingemerging American marketplace volatility and global change.in which people would live in ever-tightening circles of close, intimate In short, our September 26, 2001connections. “Intimacy,” we said, bottom line was that 9/11 would“will be the hallmark of the new merely accelerate a process oflifestyle framework in the world change and reprioritization alreadyafter September 11.” For marketers, underway. 9/11 would contribute tothe key to success would be “the the direction of the future but wouldextent to which your products not wholly, or even mostly, set thatfurther a sense of intimacy.” The direction because, as we suggestedheightened awareness of security in our final point of emphasis, inrisks occasioned by 9/11 would be a almost no time, 9/11 would lose itsfactor in creating this future, but we grip on people.argued that other dynamics wouldbe the primary drivers.This future of intimacy is uponus. We see it in the rise of socialnetworks, first to aggregate friendsthen to winnow them down intoclutches of closeness. We see itin the booming happiness fad,for which relationships figurefirst. We see it in the geographyof politics, with more and morepeople living in counties where © 2011 The Futures Company. All rights reserved. 4
  • 6. Losing Its GripWe surveyed people during the first little effect” on their day-to-day lives. To 9/11 has “had very little effect” on theirquarter of 2002 in the first available restate it in a more straightforward way,3 day-to-day lives.wave of US MONITOR tracking after two in three felt that 9/11 had affected9/11.2 By early 2002, the initial shock their ordinary lives. But whatever Looking more closely at the distributionhad passed, which enabled us to get presence 9/11 had in people’s lives, it was of agreement and disagreement shownmore dispassionate answers. Five of not so beleaguering that people were in Table 2, it is apparent that whilethe half-dozen questions we asked are soured on security, community and the most people are in the middle, theshown in Table 1. future. 9/11 was a harrowing jolt, but biggest group has moved from feeling evidently not a suffocating blow. affected by 9/11 to feeling unaffectedAlthough we could not track the special by it. Additionally, the ratio of extremesquestions we asked in 2002, overall Even as a presence in people’s lives, has dropped from nearly five-to-oneagreement provides a useful measure of though, by 2011, 9/11 was losing its grip. “strongly” feeling affected in 2002 tothe absolute scale of concerns. The level 9/11 matters to people as something just slightly more who feel that wayof agreement shows a degree of worry, that happened in their lives but not as in 2011, a notable lessening of thebut nothing on the order of magnitude something that molds their lives. In 2011, intensity of feeling.alleged by many. Virtually everyone felt the majority opinion has shifted, withsecure, and most people were willing most now agreeing, not disagreeing, thatto make sacrifices for security. A solidmajority remained confident in thefuture. A large percentage said they Table 1 (total agree) 2002 2011were reaching out to others. I feel safe in my own home 91% 88% Ensuring national security outweighs personal privacyWe asked these questions again considerations 63% 61%in the 2011 third-quarter wave of The world is no longer a safe place to raise children 43% 50%MONITOR. Most noteworthy is thefact that agreement in 2011 is largely Lately, I have been making an extra effort to get to know 41% 37%unchanged from 2002. The level of my neighbors betterconcern measured in 2002 was not Living with fear has become a part of my daily life 29% 32%unusually high nor the precursor toan outbreak of anxiety to come. (Theonly change worth noting is the seven- Table 2point increase in apprehension about The events of September 11 have had very little effectthe world being a safe place to raise 2002 2011 on my day-to-day lifechildren, although it’s a surprisingly Total Disagree 65% 47%modest change, given all that’shappened since 9/11.) Strongly Disagree 23% 14% Disagree 42% 33%The most telling question about howpeople felt is shown in Table 2. In Total Agree 35% 53%2002, nearly two-thirds disagreed Strongly Agree 5% 10%with the idea that 9/11 had “had very Agree 30% 43%5 © 2011 The Futures Company. All rights reserved.
  • 7. Boomer BustOne group of consumers is more But one aspect of their generational about this as well; it’s just that 9/11 isin the grip of 9/11 than other situation could explain it. Younger not as salient to them as an instancegroups: Baby Boomers. No other cohorts of Millennials and GenXers of that.demographic group stands apart. went through 9/11 at an age when they could still make adjustments to To properly understand theTable 3 shows generational cope with sudden, new realities. The uncertainty and likely disruptionscomparisons in 2002 for the question older cohort of Matures was largely that will shape the future (and at theof whether 9/11 has “had very little at an age when their situations were same time, worry Boomers more thaneffect” on day-to-day life. Table 4 fixed and protected. Boomers were everyone else), the context must beshows 2011. Boomers were the most the cohort caught in the middle—too broadened. 9/11 is but one part of anlikely to disagree in 2002 and are old to adapt yet too young to be historical flow sweeping things along.the only generational cohort in 2011 beyond the need to adapt. What’s changed since 9/11 is notwith a majority that disagrees. While anything to do with 9/11 per se. Butthe percentage has dropped, most By disagreeing that the effects of 9/11 serves us well as an iconic turningBoomers still feel effects from the 9/11 cannot be felt in their lives, the point from which to consider what’sevents of September 11 in their daily majority of Boomers are baring deep next, mostly because it put people onlives. forebodings about their exposure notice that something far-reaching to uncertainty and unexpected was afoot.It is not immediately obvious why disruptions. Of course, it’s not asBoomers should stand out in this way. if other generations aren’t thinking The events of September 11 have had very little effect on my day-to-day life Table 3 2002 Millennials GenXers Boomers Matures Total Disagree 56% 63% 69% 65% Total Agree 44% 36% 30% 35% Table 4 2011 Millennials GenXers Boomers Matures Total Disagree 41% 46% 54% 44% Total Agree 59% 54% 46% 56% © 2011 The Futures Company. All rights reserved. 6
  • 8. Finding the FutureThe real terror of the post-9/11 world Most fundamentally, what was at Consensus. The decade to comewas not apparent at the time. It lay issue, even when not stated explicitly, looks even worse.ahead. 9/11 was simply the first thing was the Washington Consensus.out of Pandora’s 21st-century box. First articulated in 1989 by American The old world order will not disappear economist John Williamson as ten entirely. In particular, the 20th-In particular, what has weakened policy prescriptions for crisis-wracked century experiment pitting market-since 9/11 is the presumption that the developing economies,5 it soon run economies against state-runfuture will ‘look like’ America, or, to became shorthand for the Anglo- economies has shown definitively thatquote political philosopher John Gray, Saxon Western economic model of markets are superior, so markets arethe belief that “all human beings are ‘free markets’ and neoliberalism that here to stay. What will change are theAmericans under the skin.”4 9/11 was constituted the scaffolding of the ways in which markets are managed.the strike against that presumption post-WW2 global economy (especiallythat legitimized a new context for after the fall of the Soviet Union). In the ten years since 9/11, the post-debate and reappraisal. By no means WW2 world order has lost its moraldoes this excuse the indisputable Since 9/11, fault lines have authority. America, and indeedcriminality of 9/11. Nor is it meant to materialized in the Washington much of the West, has learned withsuggest that 9/11 sparked everything Consensus. The G20 has unseated surprise that most people neitherthat came next. It is simply to note the G8 as the relevant body of global share nor aspire to its values. Nobelthat 9/11 was a conspicuous blow, economies. The invasion of Iraq Prize-winning economist Michaelboth real and symbolic, against the strained relations between Western Spence “caution[s]” against the falsetwin pillars of American authority— allies, galvanized anti-Americanism assumption that the “governancefinance and military—executed in a in many Islamic countries and helped underpinnings of sustained highway, notes Gray, that shows “Al Qaeda bring terrorism home to other cities growth are coterminous withunderstands that twenty-first century around the world, including the 2002 democracy. That is not supportedwars are spectacular encounters in Kuta Beach bombings in Bali, the by the evidence.”6 A world of stabilitywhich the dissemination of media 2004 11-M bombings in Madrid, and centered on a “single sustainableimages is a core strategy.” the 2005 7/7 bombings in London. model of human development,” as The global financial crisis gave Gray puts it, has collapsed into aThe fanatical audacity on display in second life to critics of capitalism, world of volatility, vulnerability andthe images of 9/11 catalyzed a decade prompting the leaders of many vigilance. The old world order of theof more outspoken opposition to the emerging markets to reassess their latter half of the 20th century is nowestablished world order. Everything development models. The European being supplanted by an emergingthat followed, much of which was Union is sagging under multiple though still-coalescing new worldinstantly recognizable as utterly sovereign debt crises and consumers order for the first half of the 21stvenal, was seen in a different light, one across developed markets are stuck century. Needless to say, neitherthat brought out the shortcomings in place until they can deleverage business nor marketing will be theof the established order as much their household budgets. The past same.as the malevolence of the events or decade has not been kind to theperpetrators themselves. Western developed markets that have long championed the Washington7 © 2011 The Futures Company. All rights reserved.
  • 9. Future Perspectives FootnotesThe strategic and practical business implica- 1 This is our most recent MONITOR theme,tions of the emerging world order have been focusing on relationships as the centralexplored at length in several freely available aspect of the emerging “culture of content-Future Perspectives published over the past ment.” It is not a rejection or diminishment ofyear by senior thought-leaders at The Futures materialism, but a new context of meaning forCompany. These include: materialism. • The World in 2020: The Business Chal- 2 In 2002, the survey was door-to-door inter- lenges of the Future – an in-depth look at viewing among 2,513 respondents. In 2011, the strategic and business model impera- the survey was online interviewing among tives associated with resource scarcity 2,500 respondents. Both samples were na- and new technologies tionally representative. We are confident that • Recovery & Rebound: Twelve Takeaways the results discussed here are not compro- from the Japanese Earthquake and mised by methodological differences. Before Tsunami – a review of key lessons learned switching MONITOR from door-to-door to about managing brands facing extraordi- online interviewing, we completed five years of nary circumstances parallel surveys and methodological testing to ensure that our 40-year tracking data would • The Future of Global Brands in an Uncer- continue to be valid and reliable. tain World: The Power of Co-Creation – an examination of the emerging co-creation 3 By asking the question in this way, we were model for marketing global brands set able to minimize yay-saying. against the context of the evolution of the global marketplace 4 John Gray, Al Qaeda and What It Means to Be Modern (London: Faber and Faber, 2003). • Unmasking Millennials: The Truth About Millennials – a global look at the myths 5 John Williamson, “What Washington Means and realities about the generation of by Policy Reform,” in Latin American Adjust- twenty-somethings now taking center ment: How Much Has Happened? Edited by stage in the global economy, including John Williamson (Peterson Institute for Inter- a groundbreaking segmentation of this national Economics, 1989; reprinted 2002). global demographic cohort. 6 Michael Spence, The Next Convergence: The • Millennials in Crisis: What the Team Future of Economic Growth in a Multispeed Dynamic and the Crisis of Chrysalis Mean World (NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011). for Marketers – an in-depth assessment of how US Millennials are rising to the challenge of today’s tough economy and the new map of success guiding their ambitions and aspirations. • Happiness: Is It Your Business? – an over- view of what the science of happiness reveals about optimal brand marketing and business strategy • Status Update: The Six Decisions Shaping the Future of Online Social Networking – a framework of six pivot points, or business decisions, for building strong brands through social media • Technology in 2020 – a comprehensive overview of the ways in which digital information technologies are reshaping brands, business models and corporate strategy © 2011 The Futures Company. All rights reserved. 8

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