The American dream seems to be changing. It's been classically defined by upward mobility, and possessions including a house and a car, all in service of family. Now, every aspect of that model seems to be shifting, as Americans change what they want to achieve, and why, and what they want to possess.
3 KEY INSIGHTS
1. From Upward Mobility to Economic Security.
The idea that each generation does better than the previous one is often cited as a pillar of the American dream. Polling in 2011 found that Americans preferred economic stability and security to upward mobility by a ratio of 85% to 13%.
The economy may or may not return to its pre-recession characteristics, but the drive for economic security by US consumers may be long-lasting in either case.
2. From Owning to Sharing.
The benefits of possessing things are now achievable in other ways--often through or supported by digital devices and technologies. Americans are experimenting with new types of collaborative consumption and cloud-based lifestyles that put an emphasis on access over ownership.
3. From Having it All to Having Happiness.
The recession and the inability of the economy to provide former levels of mobility and opportunity have spurred new emphasis on family and community as life priorities.
BUSINESS IMPLICATIONS AND OPPORTUNITIES
Post-possession consumers are still consumers. They may want the same utilitarian or emotional outcomes as buyers of physical goods, but seek to obtain them through different paths. This implies that businesses need to innovate and experiment with business models as much as-if not more than-they do around the products and services they offer.
Companies can shift from sellers to service providers. A sharing economy presents new opportunities for companies to experiment with business models. Ford, for instance, became the provider for 250 Zipcar locations on college campuses, reaching young people during their sharing stage-and possibly making them more open to Ford products later in their lives.
Work Policies May Need to Change. New priorities could move American society toward becoming more family-friendly in matters such as parental leave, daycare, and general employment policies. At the least, these matters could rise as political and social issues.
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