For those of you that follow me on twitter (@justinbasini or http://www.blogger.com/www.twitter.com/justinbasini) or follow Tom Farrand (@tomfarrand or http://www.blogger.com/www.twitter.com/tomfarrand) you may have noticed Tom’s question about the biggest trends in marketing in the next three years.
This made me reflect. I like the question because of its relatively short term nature which is especially pertinent given the macro economic environment we are in.
Dominic Grounsell (@domgrounsell or http://www.blogger.com/www.twitter.com/domgrounsell) suggested technology and thrift which I agree with. The transparency and access that the information age has given rise to will continue to change the rules of the game. The move from push to pull to interconnected collaboration will continue apace.
And thrift will be an ongoing zeitgeist.
What I believe is that we are at a turning point that will pivot around how long the recession lasts. If we see a relatively rapid recovery, say towards the first half of 2010, and unemployment peaks at around 3m then I think we may we’ll return to a modified version of the previous system but with less excess and more regulation.
If we go through a more prolonged recession, say until end 2010, with unemployment peaking at around 3.5m, then I could imagine more significant change with a rebalancing of the economy away from financial services and more social unrest. The leaders of businesses and our politicians will come under intense pressure to drive sustained change, raise taxes for the rich, submit to increasing regulation, all in the context of decreasing trust and perceived incompetence.
Now the most interesting scenario, with potentially massive positive benefits and undoubtedly devastating affects would be a really deep recession lasting into 2011 with unemployment peaking over 4m. I think this scenario has the potential to cause massive change in our system because of the social upheaval (at all levels) that this will cause and the increasing acute perception of the “haves” and “have nots” leaving us with a feeling that the economic system is fundamentally broken.
This will require new leadership to emerge. Potentially the US have found their change agent in President Obama. We need a new political force to arise that can drive change and restore hope. This will be a burning platform if over 10% of the working population are unemployed, house prices don’t recover, deflation starts and businesses find it hard to compete.
It will require businesses to change and adapt to increased levels of consumer activism’ increasing defaulting and money flow as the system deleverages and the continued rise of suspicion and the rising belief that making profit is bad or only feathers the nest of the “fat cats”.
Many of these changes, ironically, will be good in the long term especially if a new, more balanced approach emerges. However I’m definitely not rooting for a prolonged recession – the collateral damage on individuals and families is too great.
My prediction for what it is worth is that we will land somewhere between scenario 2 and 3 with recovery starting end 2010 and unemployment peaking at around 4m. What I do hope is that the seeds can be planted both in our leaders and in our economy that will grow into a more balanced, more holistic approach that puts well being at its heart rather than fear and greed.
As always feel free to comment.