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Popular pundit predicts.

Popular Pundit Predicts

Keep those trial balloons on a tight tether, postpone your test runs and don't send any ideas up the flagpole to see if they're saluted...until you've been to IABC's international conference, New Challenges, New Solutions, this June in New Orleans, La. If you're really interested in seeing what the future holds, you won't find a better investment than the conference general session where marketing expert Faith Popcorn will give an overview of the information on file in her TrendBank.

For years, Fortune 500 companies and other businesses have gone to Popcorn's company, BrainReserve, in New York, N.Y., to see how their new products and services stack up against the company's in-depth information on consumer attitudes and behaviors.

Most of BrainReserve's clients work in the marketing departments and advertising departments of their companies. They use the information provided by BrainReserve to develop new products, change product names and change products themselves.

Along the way, Popcorn has earned a reputation for credible predictions by successfully forecasting a bull market for lean beef, smooth roads for off-road vehicles and burst bubbles for The New Coke.

In consequence, Popcorn's popularity has spread beyond the marketing and advertising fields to include the business community as a whole, the general public and the news media. Popcorn has been interviewed by such prestigious publications as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Fortune and Time magazine and by reporters for TV shows including "Face the Nation" and "CBS Morning News." Newsweek described her as a "walking, talking crystal ball" and called her "one of the most interviewed women on the planet."

The mainstay of BrainReserve's success is its TrendBank, the results of the research it has compiled on consumer attitudes and behaviors. In order to qualify for the TrendBank, behaviors have to last at least 10 years, be widespread demographically and occur within several "arenas of consumer activity," for instance, in movie-watching habits and in eating habits.

BrainReserve's staff identifies trends in several ways. First, by poring over popular books, magazines, and newspapers; by watching TV shows and movies, and by thousands of consumer interviews each year. Second, by categorizing behaviors and attitudes to decide whether they fall into a pre-existing trend, modify an ongoing trend, or constitute a new trend.

The TrendBank is constantly updated to reflect these changes, resulting in rapid change in trend titles and definitions.

BrainReserve also tracks TIPS (Trends In Progress), behaviors which could become either trends or fads.

Here is a brief overview of BrainReserve's TrendBank as it stands now, including definitions of particular trends, explanations of their causes and examples of them in action.


Definition: The need to protect oneself from the harsh, unpredictable realities of the outside world.

Causes: Dirt, noise, traffic, pollution, long lines bother the consumer.

Examples: People are staying home more. Attendance at live theatre and restaurants has gone down. Attendance at arts events has gone down 12 percent since 1984. Sales are up for houseware such as china and glassware. Pet ownership is at an all-time high, for cats in particular; people want pets that don't have to leave the house.



(formerly SAFE


Definition: Modern age whets our desire for roads untaken.

Causes: AIDs. The '60s sexual revolution is over. People have pulled in and become frightened, but they still want to do something exciting. The perfect option is do something exotic but not risky.

Examples: Hotels that serve as Disneylands for grownups, where people can swim with dolphins in private lagoons, take helicopter rides along the mouth of a volcano, and take part in safaris.


DIFFERENT (formerly



Definition: The sterile computer era breeds the need to make a personal statement.

Causes: People are afraid of impersonality because of computers, fax machines, phone answering machines.

Examples: Participation in groups such as "The Couch Potatoes" and "The Chili Appreciation Society" which give both a sense of identity and an opportunity to interact.


SYNDROME (formerly



Definition: As life speeds up and more roles are assumed, Quick and Convenient become our highest priorities.

Causes: Families have two working people, they are working harder. There's a perception of less time. Patience and attention spans are less.

Examples: USA Today, People Magazine and other quickly digestible publications. Microwave ovens. Fax machines.


WERE (formerly


Definition: Post-tech, the ethics and culture of the '40s, '50s and '60s return, along with a strong desire for heritage and familiarity.

Causes: Related to the acceleration syndrome. People dwell on the past because things are changing so fast. Baby boomers want to go back to an idealized past.

Examples: "Mom food," such as meat loaf and pot roast. Diners. TV ads using black and white, old dress styles and old cars.





Definition: The consumer demands that products have a real reason-for-being to warrant respect.

Causes: People have become more sophisticated. They want quality, service and good design.

Example: Specialty stores are doing better.


Definition: The desire for good health and longevity creates a new way of life.

Causes: Baby boomers have come of age. People are working harder. Medical breakthroughs have prolonged lives.

Examples: An interest in exercise. An interest in healthy food, for instance the popularity of low-cholesterol foods such as oat bran and olive oil.



Definition: It's going to be more comfortable to be older in the coming decades: to look better, to feel better, and to revel in maturity.

Causes: The aging of baby boomers, the major consumer group.

Examples: A recent study showed that 80 percent of people between 40 and 60 think they look 15 years younger than they are. Also, older women, like Joan Collins have become glamorous role models.

The following are the three TIPS (Trends In Progress) that Popcorn has identified.



(formerly THE



Definition: A grassroots movement takes women to more powerful roles, influencing politics, business and family.

Causes: Because of inroads made by earlier women's movements, society in general is adopting more traditional "women's values."

Examples: Women are playing more powerful roles in business and as consumers.


Definition: Working women and men, questioning personal/career satisfaction and goals, focus on the family and opt for new adventures.

Causes: People are asking themselves why they are working so hard. They want to trade in money for a better life.

Examples: People moving to the country, leaving corporations to start their own small businesses.



Definition: The me generation finds a social conscience and discovers ethics, passion and compassion.

Causes: Environmental and social problems.

Examples: A willingness to recycle. A trend toward biodegradable bags. An increase in money and time to charity.

In her presentation at New Challenges, New Solutions, Popcorn will go into more detail on these trends and tips and will answer audience questions. She also will offer insights into the impact of these trends upon the communication profession.

During this session, the highlights of "Profile '89" also will be unveiled. "Profile '89" is a biennial survey of job titles, responsibilities and salaries of business communicators and the trends affecting them.

Popcorn's session is scheduled for Tuesday, June 6 from 9 to 10:45 am.
COPYRIGHT 1989 International Association of Business Communicators
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Title Annotation:Faith Popcorn predicts trends on consumer behaviors
Author:Heger, Kyle
Publication:Communication World
Date:Apr 1, 1989
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