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.
Essays and comments posted in World Future Society and THE FUTURIST magazine blog portion of this site are the intellectual property of the authors, who retain full responsibility for and rights to their content. For permission to publish, distribute copies, use excerpts, etc., please contact the author. The opinions expressed are those of the author. The World Future Society takes no stand on what the future will or should be like.
Keep up with the World Future Society. Subscribe to our mailing list:
February 12, 2016 - Human civilization has arisen in an interglacial warming period. It was a mere 12,000 years ago that our planet cycled from an Ice Age to milder conditions. The cause of cyclical warming and cooling has had nothing to do with us.
February 11, 2016 - The problem with greenhouse gases is they don't recognize political boundaries. Carbon dioxide emitted in China and the United States impacts the entire globe.
February 11, 2016 - In the world of smart devices these days reliance on a plug in charging system is like walking around with an anchor dragging behind you. I have written about wireless recharging technologies that use pads.
February 10, 2016 - That Albert Einstein was a pretty smart guy. A century ago in a thought experiment leading to general relativity he theorized gravitational waves.
February 10, 2016 - The conservative wing of the American Supreme Court is not interested in combating climate change. Instead 5 justices have buried their heads in the sand in the name of non-science and nonsense.
February 10, 2016 - Entitled Leading Edge Asynchronous Propeller Technology (LEAPTech), this experimental hybrid-electric propulsion system will soon move from a test bed on the back of a truck at Edwards Air Force Base in California, to a demonstration X-plane expected to fly in 2019.
February 9, 2016 - At the Paris climate talks greenhouse gas emissions from ships and airplanes were discussed but there was no final agreement on a cap.
February 8, 2016 - Peter Diamandis talks about what happens when eight different exponential technologies come onto the scene at the same time. In a series of blogs that I will share with my readers here he waxes poetic on a future where the following fields will morph and recombine to produce an unpredictable future. What's fields are these?