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Linzi Boyd and Darren Shirlaw – the presenters from BoB Earth who’ve been responsible for two-thirds of the content presented at the CEDIA Leadership Series of virtual events – returned for the second Series feature on December 9. The opening session of the day, “Trend Lines – On and Offline, A 21st Century Mindset,” focused on just that; the three types of trends that have a direct impact on a business: societal, economic, and consumer.
“These are macro trends,” notes Shirlaw, who’s steeped in economics. Staring with societal trends, Shirlaw noted that he’s looked back 100-plus years and distilled the four big booms that gave rise to economic growth. There was a pattern: They were all coupled with broad adoptions of technological advancements.
“Around the turn of the last century, the early 1900s, rail became the dominant mode of transport,” says Shirlaw. “In the ‘20s, cars and radio fueled growth.” The crash, Great Depression, and World War II put a damper on things until what’s (now quaintly) called “the Space Age” took hold, and sped the development of everything from rocket science to Velcro. “In the 1990s, the age of the internet drove the disruptions that still ripple through our lives right now,” says Shirlaw.
The Next Big Thing
Shirlaw’s predicted that we’ll see the next break in the coming decade. “We’re due sometime between ’21 and ’31,” say Shirlaw, and while we might have some predictions as to what might truly trigger something revolutionary (AI? XR?), it’s a tough call to truly put one’s finger on The Next Big Thing.
One thing to definitely keep an eye out for, however, is the manner in which a societal change can directly affect an economic shift (which leads us to the impact of the next category of trends). “The whaling industry nearly shut down overnight,” notes Shirlaw. “As a society, once we had alternatives to whale products, it didn’t take long to understand how cruel and dangerous whaling was. The fur trade saw a similar fate. Paper – that industry’s been clobbered by the digital age.” (Sorry, Dunder Mifflin.)
The pandemic is changing everything as well. “Habits are changing,” says Linzi Boyd. “And once that happens, the ‘old way of doings’ is likely gone.”
That leads the discussion into consumer trends. A prime example? “So many manufacturers in the fashion industry shifted to masks and gowns over the past months,” says Boyd. Getting dressed up hasn’t been a thing for a while, but the need for PPE has supplanted that demand.
From “Type” to “Swipe”
This dovetails into a concept that’s at the heart of Boyd’s message: What’s your business model really about? Are you building off a need? Creating a need? Or are you responsible for the disruption that actually changes peoples’ habits? “That last one is the most expensive to bring to market, but can give you the biggest market share,” says Boyd. “Think about Apple – from ‘type’ to ‘swipe.’” The notions that you need to sit at a computer to open your email or go grab your Nikon camera to take that candid family photo have been wiped away with a single invention: the smartphone.
Boyd sees three upcoming changes linked to consumer trends:
“People will want to g back to nature. There will be tech, but it’ll be fused into our lives in different ways. There’ll be a revolt against screens, and a need to reconnect with others after these long months of disconnection.
“Number two: we’re moving back to ‘local.’ People don’t want cheap things shipped in unsustainable ways.” There’s brand cache in words like “MADE IN USA” or “MADE IN ITALY.” Shirlaw also notes that local manufacturing must return – supply chain disruptions during the pandemic demonstrated that quite clearly.
The last springs from the second: “Conscious consumption is on the uptick,” says Boyd. “Fast fashion and food and disposable items are on the way out. People yearn to up-, down-, and recycle whenever they can.”
The first two Leadership events are available as recordings, the next in the series is slated for January 27, 2021.