'Clanning' and Spirituality:
Trend forcaster Faith Popcorn on 21st-century life
By Kyle Roderick
Third Age News Service
Some of us are wondering, or worrying, about what life will
be like in the coming millennium. What does the future hold for elders and aging
baby boomers? our children and grandchildren? How will we be living, working,
Since futurists and marketing experts are diligently
researching answers to these and other 21st-century-related questions, we
decided to call on one of the best: globally recognized trend forecaster Faith
Popcorn, founder of the international marketing consultancy BrainReserve.
Popcorn and her staff have been identifying emerging
lifestyle and consumer trends for Fortune 500 companies and others since 1974.
Documented as having a 95 percent accuracy rate, Popcorn correctly predicted the
explosive growth in home businesses, home delivery, stay-at-home working mothers
and home shopping. She also foresaw the demand for organic and specialty foods,
the rise of fourwheel-drive cars, as well as the failure of New Coke.
The best-selling author of "Clicking" and "The
Popcorn Report" shared her visions of 21st-century life with us via cell
phone while being chauffeur-driven to her midtown Manhattan office. She began
her prognostications by citing the so-called "99 Lives" trend as one
of the major, and possibly most powerful, currents of present and future life.
"99 Lives means that we're living at too fast a pace
with too little time to do everything," Popcorn says. "This forces us
to assume multiple roles," she adds, but it also means that people are
working harder and longer than they did before. "Many elders are already on
their second careers," Popcorn notes. "In the future, we'll see elders
become even more enterprising as they embark on their third and fourth
careers." On the downside, however, these elders, along with everyone else,
are going to be living at faster paces and in more complex circumstances.
"Time will be the new currency in the year 2000 and
beyond," she says. "We'll spend it, save it, invest it and trade it --
the way we did with money in the 1980s and '90s. "For instance, companies
will start rewarding their employees with time bonuses rather than money, she
says. What's more, people will be searching for extra time in every area of
their lives, and this is why "by 2010, 90 percent of consumer products will
be home-delivered. Mothers will give children lists so they can shop for the
family's groceries and other necessities over the Internet." Kids will also
be taking cooking lessons so they can prepare meals for the family, Popcorn
says, because so many parents will be working too late to cook dinner.
In addition, while the kids or live-in elders are cooking
dinner and parents are commuting homeward or working out at the gym, personal
assistants will be running our errands. "Just as a hotel concierge gets
tickets to sporting events or arranges a doctor's appointment for a guest, so
will the personal concierge" work for overextended people, Popcorn says.
Given that the elder population and 72 million baby boomers
are aging en masse, Popcorn says that the "clanning" trend is destined
to define life in the 21st century. "Multigenerational families (living
together) are on the rise," she says, "and so are alternative families
that include single friends or relatives. "Families and disparate
individuals will choose to live together for economic and child-raising
advantages, along with the emotional and social supports that family-style
living can confer. "There is going to be a blending of families and
unrelated people that we've never seen the likes of before," Popcorn says.
"People are really going to team up and care for each other in profound
Gated communities, which she likens to armored cocoons, are
also going to become more popular as we strive to distance ourselves from
increasingly threatening social realities. As our 21st-century lives accelerate
into technologically oriented and depersonalized lifestyles and job styles,
"anchoring" will emerge as a key lifestyle trend. Anchoring refers to
the desire to reconnect to our spiritual and ethical roots, and taking
"what was secure from the past in order to be ready for the future,"
says Popcorn. "People are already rediscovering their religious and
spiritual traditions, or discovering them."
In the next decade, Popcorn predicts that spirituality will
become much more integral to daily life as companies and employers begin
scheduling meditation or "spirituality breaks" for employees to pray
or otherwise connect with a higher power. Noting that more Americans attend
religious services than all sporting events combined, she adds:
"Pick-your-own religions will become the new status quo. For example,
people may combine Jewish ritual with Catholic sacraments and Zen
This multiculturally blended practice of world religious traditions ties in with
Popcorn's broad definition of how we will be living in the 21st century.
"People are more spiritual, conservative and less apt to spend," she
says. "Life after 2000 is going to be primarily focused on living and being
rather than on buying and having."