Thursday, June 12, 2008

TCG Conference: Kinney Zalesne (microtrends)

Notes from the TCG Opening Plenary Session: Kinney Zalesne, co-author, microtrends: the small forces behind tomorrow's big changes: hear about some of the emerging communities whose tastes and lifestyles are shaping our future.

Microtrends are the small forces behind tomorrow's big changes. 25 years ago, the market depended on megatrends for change. Megatrends were universal forces that swept through and affected everyone (such as changes in technology). Today there is such an exploration of choice that microtrends (small forces--maybe less than 1% of the total population) can cause major trends in the marketplace.

Old Economy -- "The Ford Economy": one size fits all. The Ford Company were the masters at inventing and designing one black car that could be manufactured 1 million times and could serve the needs of a large number of people and this satisfied the consumer demand.

New Economy
-- "The Starbucks Economy": highly tailored to your personal desires; one can get almost anything they want, the way they want it; think about all the different combinations of coffee drinks that you can order at Starbucks.

People are changing things in their lives that only a couple of decades ago was thought to be unchangeable:
1. Cosmetic surgery is now a $12 billion industry in the U.S. because we now have a large number of choices we can make in regards to how we look. Some of the largest growing segments for cosmetic surgery is teenagers and men.
2. We can now pick our gender. Beyond sex reassignment surgery, a growing number of people find the traditional categories of male and female too constraining (they call themselves unisexuals). 100 corporations and 75 universities have banned discrimination on gender identity, and unisex bathrooms are popping up all over the place.

In all areas of our lives, there is an increasing amount of choice. We can no longer wait for megatrends, we must now focus on microtrends.

Microtrends Contradict:
- We have more affluent couples now than ever, but they were staying in the workforce longer
- We have more scientific knowledge than ever before, but there are 2 to 3 religions created in the world each day.

Microtrend Mindset:
- We must be comfortable holding inconsistent ideas in our heads at the same time (trends are going in every direction at a fast pace)
- We must respect the true breadth and complexity of human beings.

Microtrend Examples:
1. Long Attention Spanners
-growing group of people who want more information not less
-will listen as long as you engage them
-1/2 million Americans run marathons (they want to complete a long journey)
-Foreign Affairs Magazine has increased its subscribers by 13%
-Best-selling novels are on average 100 pages longer than they were 10 years ago

2. Young Knitters
-Teens and 20 something knitters grew from 3 million to over 6 million between 2002 and 2004
-They want old fashioned entertainment in a high technology world

3. Non-profiteers
-non-profit sector is growing far faster than the for profit or public sectors
-more than 12 million people make their living in the non-profit sector
-these folks are social entrepreneurs and people on a mission
-for profits are looking at the non-profit sector for how to attract employees

4. Southpaws Unbound
-1 in 6 people are left-handed
-more businesses are making products for left-handed people
-parents used to worry about their left-handed children and they wanted their kids to conform to society so they could fit in (and thereby taught them to use their right hands). Now parents celebrate their children's individuality.

The microtrend world is fragmenting more around issues, which is putting more pressure to find the values that bring us together--what makes us human? The arts explore these issues.

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