Posts tagged ‘trends’
Trend fans, I can report that this Christmas its all about Penguins.
As of this morning, my haul of Christmas cards had penguins outnumbering robins 3 to 1.
Santa even took his penguin friends with him to open the Harrods Christmas department (in August, so I think the snow might be courtesy of photoshop):
Want to be in with the in-crowd this Christmas? Looks like you need the Pingu boxed set:
In my last (at least for now) series of observations about the New Normal, we come to consumer values.
Yes, I know there’s an online movement to eradicate the term ‘consumer’, but to be honest I’ve yet to hear a better alternative – ‘commonalities among people generally, who aren’t customers, but then again might be vaguely interested in what you have to say’ is a bit of a mouthful, ‘target audience’ too specific and ‘people’ too generic.
Obviously in terms of how people spend money, what they spend it on and why, the ballpark has shifted considerably in the last 12 months. I’ve already blogged about how ‘value’ means far more than just cheap prices, but I’m increasingly interested in the shift in values that has accompanied this.
It used to be socially acceptable to talk about what a great bargain you got – the cheapie Primark dress or knockoff designer bag. Now it’s OK to talk about how your finances are tight, what you are cutting back on to address this and even to boast about how surprisingly great the food offer is at Aldi. It’s almost got to the point where we can boast about our savvyness, with new consumer (see?) tribes No Frills Affluents, the Aldirati and Recessionistas all almost enjoying the new status quo.
Then we have the New Normal of haggling for big ticket items, deciding a restaurant for dinner or day out destination based on who is offering the best vouchers and never ordering online without checking for a discount code first.
Add to this the rise of simplicity and home crafts, a backlash against conspicuous consumption and being urged to shop responsibly (care of Gok Wan, Mary Portas and co) and it all seems to be about Considered Consumption. Even Provenance is inching its way back into decision making, except perhaps its now more about Buying British or supporting local producers than paying a premium for happy chickens.
Go ahead, its OK to buy something, but make sure you have a justifiable reason behind your purchase, get a discount, recycle whatever you’re replacing and don’t make a song and dance about it (unless it was a real bargain).
So, the economy is in free fall and we’re all doomed. Right?
The quallies at work have been doing a lot of focus groups with Credit Crunched Mums recently. Apparently yes, Mums are being careful and trying to be more frugal – but a lot of them are doing so not because they are very worried about their finances right now, but because they think things are going to get worse before they get better.
I think we might be talking ourselves into making the economic situation worse. The media isn’t exactly helping, a quick dig round nexis revealed dozens of recent case study stories about families who were cutting back and lots of first-person pieces by jounros describing how they were economising madly, but nothing suggesting that just maybe, a few people were actually carrying on pretty much as normal.
It’s admirable if someone decides to live more frugally now in order to try and safeguard their immediate future. But with every scare-monger story the media puts out, perhaps it has got to a point where people are taking more severe steps then they really need to, in turn bringing about the next step of the downturn they were trying to protect themselves against in the first place…
Last night I stumbled across the first episode of Being Human on BBC3 and I’m hooked. It’s a quirky, dark, comic tale about a vampire, a werewolf and a ghost living together in a house in Bristol. If you liked Torchwood, Shallow Grave or This Life, it should be right up your street.
If you’re in the UK you can catch up with the first episode on BBCiplayer here and the content rich microsite is here.
PS What is it with vampires at the moment? What with the latest Underworld pre/sequel, Twilight, ITV’s Demons and the forthcoming Lesbian Vampire Killers, you can’t move for the undead. At this rate, they’ll have to bring back Buffy…
I love cheesy musicals. Any form of entertainment where people spontaneously burst into cheerful song for no particular reason is just my kind of thing.
I’m not alone – the Society of London Theatre recently announced that box office receipts in 2008 were up 3% year on year, with attendance also up at 13.8M, much of this attributed to such cheerful shows as Hairspray and High School Musical.
On the celluloid front, Mama Mia is now the fastest selling DVD of all time in the UK, selling 10 copies a second on its release day. It’s also the highest grossing film ever at the UK box office.
Apparently musical rhythms make the brain’s reward systems kick in to decrease pain and produce pleasurable responses via nature’s own version of morphine. In short, music makes you happy. Add energetic dancing and a bit of sparkle and you get the kind of feel good factor that should come free on the NHS.
Not only that, but in every musical there are lessons to be learnt – Mary Poppins is a tale for our times, with a banker father suspicious of a money-making scheme that sounds good to be true; according to the HSM equal opportunities gang “we’re all different in a good way” and it nearly always ends happily ever after.
Although I doubt that box office receipts will remain as buoyant in the next 12 months, the Musical Movement its still something to watch out for. Singalonga escapism, anyone?
archive image from Life magazine, hosted by google
Sam Leith in today’s Guardian has written about her experiences working in an open plan office – in essence, an ethnographic study of territorial anxiety and opportunities to acquire cake and gossip.
Sitting in our very open plan, very noisy office, trying to avoid the siren call of the chocolate chip cookies two desks down, it reminded me of everything I’ve written before about Creative Spaces. Working where you work best (and the acknowledgement that people rarely produce their best work surrounded by strip lighting and a constantly ringing phone) is all very well in theory – but what about the economic reality of cost-per-square foot of office space and the expense involved in creating break out rooms, comfy corners and giving everyone a desk-with-a-view?
In fact, google research revealed that (doh!) information flowed fastest in an office environment among people who were closely packed together.
But can we really be productive in such a busy, distracting environment? I certainly get more ‘done’ when I work from home – but then of course all that Information isn’t Flowing via me if I’m not there. On the other hand, this post and accompanying comments on mommy blogger site TheMomSpeak suggests that the average full-time homeworker isn’t exactly Productivity Central either.
Thanks to Amelia for pointing out johnnyvulkan’s coining of ‘Lurking’ – getting distracted maintaining twitter, facebook, flickr etc while at work (wherever that might be). Of course he added that as a ‘media professional’ it was all just research : -)
In the Archie Norman era, Asda apparently encouraged head office staff to wear special baseball caps when they were thinking so they wouldn’t be disturbed (reasons not to work at Asda HQ #87) and white ipod headphones have taken on a second life in OfficeLand as a ‘please don’t bother me’ sign, but its still an imperfect system.
Perhaps we’ll just have to grin and bear all the distractions – and head for the sanctity of home when it gets too much, assuming we can avoid the temptations of the TV…
In November 07 I blogged that I thought the foodservice sector were really starting to wake up to the importance of provenance.
In the grim economic reality of January 2009 I wonder whether retailers, manufacturers and everyone else in the food supply chain are going to be quite so bothered? Of course a lot of it is down to the consumer – when times are tight will choosing a ‘happy chicken’ to roast or having an organic veg box delivered become a luxury that many can no longer justify?
I’m guessing that Value is going to overtake Provenance in the importance stakes, in fact the recent rash of discountitis at all the major mults would indicate that it already has. TNS reported in December that sales of free range chicken are down but so are sales of ready meals at Asda, who recon we are entering “a new decade of frugality”.
Value doesn’t necessarily mean ‘cheap’, it can just as easily mean ‘quality at the right price’. Perhaps we won’t see that dramatic a drop in provenance influenced purchasing, but will see a rise in interest in thrifty ways of using up decent quality food?