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Future Moves

My predictions about the key future moves appeared in the Economic Times of India ( India’s Wall Street Journal) on January 6.

Because the site is filled with pop-ups I also include it in its entirety here.


If there is one overwhelming trend globally after the financial folks turned out to be wanting and everyone from Bernie to Tiger Woods were found to be posers, there is a great deal of skepticism among consumers as to what is fake and what is real. In such a world marketers must ensure that they, their actions and their spokespeople are the real deals. There is a huge premium for authentic, real and dependable in a world gone crazy and fake.


Risk is questionable. The days of spending more than one earns and deep leverage seem to be behind us at least in an extreme form. The people with savings (China and India among others) now seem to have the high moral ground over those who have been prolific in spending. Brands must recognize this resetting and be nuanced in their celebration of consumption .


Finally, the platform of the future appears to be clear, and it will be mobility. With over 2 billion phones we are on the cusp of a dramatic change in communications . Due to the rising affordability of smart phones we can anticipate that between Blackberry, Google Android, Nokia Ovi and Apple I-Phone the smart phone revolution will really take off in 2010 and within three years the majority of “phones” will be mobile computers that combine real time data, social network and highly empowering and entertaining applications .


SMS which is still the world’s most used communication medium is a social platform. But with 350 million Facebook users, tens of millions Twitter users and a range of local and international innovations (Google real time search) that combine real time and social we are going to see an explosion in the impact of both word of mouth and real time information . For instance in many ways the best way to keep abreast of the 11/9 terror in Mumbai was twitter and real time live streams. Expect every media company and consumer brand to invest in real time listening and response in 2010.


The world is going increasingly digital but a) the majority of media and marketing is analog and b) people are analog. Thus it is wrong to become overly hysterical even in advanced digital penetration countries by screaming about “digital at the core” ! What is important is people and their needs and passions at the core and most of us combine the real and virtual worlds in ways that allow us to connect, save money and time and pursue our passions. We use mobile tools to have real world meetings and we enhance real world occasions with digital augmentation. Just like Walmart stores are paying a lot of attention to digital capabilities one can expect digital companies like Amazon to have analog or real world presence . Today besides Kindle you will see Amazon stores and maybe even book stores just like Apple has its online store and its real stores.


India is unique among major nations in having a demographic dividend of a majority of its population under 25. But we expect all over the world including in the nations that are aging fast (Japan and Western Europe), a combination of technology, dismay with the world and unauthentic doings of the old and just plain “fed-upness” to see a generational shift. The times they are a changing as Bob Dylan sang. Marketers must take the rise of youth into account but these are not the youth of yesteryear but people who are increasingly committed to a better world. They are folks that care about sustainability, community and leaving things better than they found it. This is not just about sex and money.


The hardest question a brand, a marketer and a person will have to answer is “What do you stand for?” or “What is your purpose?” My sister company Leo Burnett has a great insight which notes that increasingly in the future you will be judged by what you do and not what you say or as Leo states “Acts not Ads” . We anticipate brands and marketers will have to show and not tell and one of the filters they will be evaluated by is by their actions and how they improve society.


Sustainability and environment will become a key factor in how consumers evaluate brands and begin to calibrate their own behavior. Brands will need to understand their carbon footprints and be able to explain how they are being proactive about cleaning up. This will also be a “have” vs “have-not” or rather a “why are you lecturing us you western folks?” emotion that will find itself into the nuance of marketing.


Okay this is not a real word but more powerful than globalization, which has already happened, will be mongrelization where cultures and capabilities from different nations, expertise and industries will meld and blend. Part of this will be due to global companies like Google, Samsung, Infosys, Lever and Procter. It will also come about as Reliance invests in Dreamworks and Bollywood and Hollywood give birth to something new. A huge impact of technology is the ability to share ideas and create new value.


Less than four years ago the following did not exist. Facebook, Twitter, Amazon Kindle, Apple I-Phone and Application Store, Mumbai Terror, The Financial Meltdown, A Black American President …. The most important thing about the future is to be nimble and flexible to react to the only thing that is certain among all my predictions. The future will surprise!
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3 comments on “Future Moves

  1. geri says:

    Thoughtful article, I realated to the message and could not agree more…

    Thank you

  2. Parts of your article leave me with a sense of breathlessness. Some of the sucking for air reflects the pace of the change we’re experiencing and you describe. (Don’t get me wrong . . . I’ve always loved the sensation of running fast.) Some of the deep breaths reflect hopefulness that you’re description of the mindset of youth relative to Purpose Driven Marketing, Sustainability, and the Environment. Can you comment on your sources for your comments on those topics?

  3. I’m going to first express my appreciation for the abridged version of your entire article of predictions.

    And then I am going to say even the abridged catalogue of predictions reads well and is filled with enthusiasm and energy. And Truth.

    When I am not in a conversation with someone about the value of slowing down long enough to add masterful soft skills to their technical expertise, I am also offering coaching to a short list of indviduals seeking to be doing purpose-filled work and quite frankly trying to slow down and simplify life to restore some peace of mind.

    It’s been said that for as connected as we now can be because of technology and a global network that can be accessed 24/7, we are in some ways less connected in ways that matter.

    For all the advances we will inevitably make in technology, I hope we also keep up with the basics of meaningful relating. For when we overlook the basics, there is a disconnect that has some pretty major consequences.

    Your world view and insights cause me to pause and for that I say thank you too.

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