Euro RSCG Worldwide Releases Top 10 Trends

Via PR News WireMarketing communications agency Euro RSCG Worldwide today released forecasts for the coming year contained within Euro RSCG's latest white paper: "Year in Prospect: 2004". Insights are drawn from ongoing research of the agency's S.T.A.R. (Strategic Trendspotting and Research) team and from a global panel of colleagues in 75 countries who report in regularly on local trends and information.

The trends are : - Going Local - Us vs. Them - Rise of the Singletons - Self-Gifting - Catering to Metrosexuals - Anti-Globesity Campaigns - Blogging - Google Bombing and Further Politicization of the Internet - Hot Spots and E-Wear - Executive Coaches - Going Local: 2004 will be the year when neighbors entertain neighbors with a home-cooked (or at least reheated ... ) stew at the kitchen table, informality being the subtheme, genuine bonding being the real theme. We'll also put more emphasis on socializing in the neighborhood, at the very local restaurants, with extended tribes of families and friends. No age barriers, just the desire for comfort food with an urbane twist and real conversation versus the kissy-kissy greetings and superficiality of life before the New Normal.

- Us vs. Them: The flip side of going local is a greater sensitivity to what's not local -- in other words, a stronger sense of Us and Them. Globalization and interactive technologies have brought a lot of people around the world closer together and furthered international trade, but, contrary to hopes and expectations, greater exposure has come to mean more scope for negative perceptions to develop. In some parts of the world, the coming year is likely to see deeper divisions across existing fault lines-Muslim/non-Muslim, conservative/liberal, urban/rural, pro-life/pro-choice, pro-gay/anti-gay.

- Rise of the Singletons: In the Old Normal, modern Western societies were based on marriage and the nuclear family. In fact, nearly 80% of households in the U.S. in 1950 were made up of married couples, with or without children. Today, that number is 50.7%, and unmarried men and women will soon be the majority. That is the New Normal.

Despite the numbers, married couples are still considered the "norm." That will slowly change as marrieds become more of a minority and as unmarrieds band together to make their weight felt in matters pertaining to such things as taxation, insurance, and employee benefits. Already, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's newest numbers, unmarrieds make up 42% of the U.S. workforce, 40% of homebuyers, and 35% of voters. That spells serious clout.

- Self-Gifting: Gifts used to be something one gave to others -- and anticipated receiving in return. This holiday season we're seeing more people cut out the middleman -- a survey by American Express found that one in five adults admit to "almost always" buying something for themselves when they're out shopping for gifts for others -- and that's a trend that will only grow stronger in 2004. The trend toward "less is more" and "simplicity" has been pushed aside by "Why wait?" and "I'm worth it."

So what will people be buying for themselves in 2004? We'll see a pushback against overly opulent or ostentatious self-purchases, with more value given to objects with a sense of nostalgia, history, and "old money." Rather than designer clothes and one-off wants, we'll see purchases of more longstanding value. We'll want to reward ourselves with items that connect us to simpler, less hurried times. Little luxuries rather than over-the-top indulgences.

- Catering to Metrosexuals: We'll see more pandering in 2004 to the metrosexual population, including publication of gentlemen's guides, more spa facilities at high-end sports clubs, and richer, more luxurious fabrics and bedding aimed at the male market. Metrosexual dads will be presented with baby product lines that let them be hands-on fathers while still remaining stylish. Among the options currently available: the Jack Spade Dad Bag, complete with leather trim and an inside pocket for a baby pad (US$250 at Neiman Marcus).

- Anti-Globesity Campaigns: As the world struggles with the global rise in obesity, we'll see many new products and practices come to the fore. Dean Rotbart, editor of LowCarbiz, expects low-carb product sales to exceed US$15 billion in 2003 and possibly reach US$30 billion in 2004. We'll also see a rise in "alternative" forms of exercise for children, including yoga and salsa dancing. And don't think Fifi and Fido are off the hook: According to the U.S. National Research Council, approximately a quarter of dogs and cats in the Western world are overweight, resulting in higher risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and other diseases. Expect to see increased focus on pets' diets and physical fitness (Atkins for Animals, anyone?).

- Blogging: 2003 was the year in which weblogging -- a.k.a. blogging -- really took hold, with an estimated 3 million sites worldwide. In 2004, we'll see more buzz marketing via blogs, as marketers figure out ways to use this new medium for their own means.

- Google Bombing and Further Politicization of the Internet: In 2004, we'll see greater politicization of the Internet as more people take advantage of its ability to apply concentrated "people power," whether by organizing volunteers for a political candidate, raising funds, or starting a boycott. One thing we'll be keeping our eye on: Google bombing. Popular search engine Google works by picking up on associations between websites and particular words and phrases. Earlier this month, anyone who typed in the words "miserable failure" on Google was directed to the official White House biography of President George W. Bush. The prank was the brainchild of a computer programmer who e-mailed blogs with an anti-Bush stance and urged them to link the phrase to the biography site. We can expect plenty more of this tactic during the upcoming election year-including a likely counter-offense from pro-Bush bloggers.

- Hot Spots and E-Wear: The wireless revolution will expand further in 2004 thanks to the growth of "hot spots," or public spaces in which wireless Internet connections are available. Technology research company Gartner estimates that the 29,000 hot spots in North America today will leap to more than 50,000 by the end of 2004. We'll also see technology integrated into our wardrobes, with pockets designed to transport our portable gadgets. So-called "e-Wear" already on the market include the Levi's Dockers Mobile Pant.

- Executive Coaches: The latest must-have status symbol in the upper echelons of business: the personal executive coach, tasked with time-efficient "high- potential grooming" and "performance enhancement" of up-and-coming talent. This is a shift from the trend toward executive coaches in the 1990s, which were primarily used by individuals to assist in their own career advancement. The burgeoning coaching market is worth an estimated US$1 billion worldwide, a figure that Harvard Business School expects to double in the next two years as corporations work to get higher levels of performance from their staffs without burning them out.