A TCI Book Review
Clicking - 16 Trends to Future Fit Your Life, Your Work and Your Business
Faith Popcorn and Lys Marigold
HarperCollins, New York, 1996.
'Clicking' is the term that Popcorn and Marigold use to describe being in synch with a particular trend or set of trends. The analogy they draw is that of cracking a safe - when you have the tumblers all lined up the right way, there is a 'click' and the door pops open. In a similar manner, when you understand all the relevant trends that influence the future of your business and your life, and act in accordance with them, then you are 'clicking'. Or, as they would say, you are 'safecracking the future'.
They have even invented a slogan for which 'CLICK' acts as an acronym:
||is for Courage, which you need to have in
order to follow a new direction in your business or your life
||is for Letting Go of the old ways of
thinking about things, and following the directions implied by the
current prevailing trends
||is for the Insight required in order to
know how to re-structure your business or your life to take advantage of
||is for Commitment to follow through and
stick it out in the initial times when it looks as though you won't
||is for the Know-how that is required to
make it work
The recipe for success, the authors maintain, is simple: a belief in this 'click' formula, plus an understanding of the trends facing business and society today.
The book is divided into three sections. The first section defines the notion of 'clicking' and how it is meaningful, the second describes in some detail the various trends, and the third is devoted to 'how to click' - practical advice on how to use the idea of clicking on the trends in everything from planning a career to raising kids. Throughout, Clicking is filled with bizarre illustrations that depict in symbolic form the various themes that run through the book. Several of these feature likenesses of the authors in heroic and athletic poses. Very annoying.
The second section, which occupies the bulk of the book, identifies and describes sixteen trends that the authors report as being actively at work shaping our future. These build upon and extend the ten trends identified in their previous book, The Popcorn Report (1991), some of which (such as 'cocooning') have entered the common parlance and are acknowledged as factors shaping consumer behavior and market responses. These 16 trends are:
- Cocooning: this labels our desire to build ourselves strong and cozy nests where we can retreat from the world, enjoying ourselves in safety and comfort
- Clanning: this refers to our need to associate with like-minded individuals, and to identify ourselves with a particular group that shares our outlook and values
- Fantasy adventure: as a break from the mundane day-to-day, we seek risk-free fantasy and adventure experiences
- Pleasure revenge: another form of escape for us is to take enjoyment in sensual and pleasurable activities, as a feeling of reward for all we've suffered
- Small indulgences: this refers to the trend towards people rewarding themselves regularly with small everyday affordable luxuries
- Anchoring: this term refers to the increasing tendency for people to seek fulfillment in spiritual values, and looking back to the past to recapture what was comforting and reassuring then
- Egonomics: this is a reaction against the standardization imposed by the computer age, which manifests itself in terms of individuals seeking out various avenues for self-expression and personal statements
- Female think: what this boils down to is that women think and act differently than men - as women occupy more positions of power this is reflected in more caring and sharing types of decision-making approaches, characterized by consensus (as opposed a hierarchical, male-dominated decision-making process) - the authors state that women start twice as many new businesses as do men, so this is a trend to be aware of
- Mancipation: increasingly, men no longer are "strictly business" - they can now enjoy the freedom to be themselves, not feeling guilty about participating in child-raising, showing emotion, etc.
- 99 lives: this trend refers to the increasing tendency (brought about in many cases by necessity) for people to assume multiple roles in society, specializing in more than one thing in their lives
- Cashing out: increasing numbers of working men and women are choosing to leave, or are being forced out of, high-profile careers - they 'cash out', choosing simpler and more fulfilling life styles
- Being alive: this refers to the growing awareness of the concept of 'wellness', and the benefits of a healthy lifestyle in terms of a better quality of life, as well as a longer life overall
- Down-aging: this trend refers to the fact that people, especially in middle age or older, adopt or maintain lifestyles (and, of course, purchase products) that would normally be associated with younger people
- Vigilante consumerism: increasingly, consumers are manipulating the marketplace through pressure, protest and politics
- Icon toppling: increasingly, say the authors, we are questioning established institutions as well as individuals who are 'pillars of society'
- S.O.S. (save our society): this refers to the trend towards an environmental ethic being practiced in business and personal affairs
The authors make the point early on in the book that for a new product or service to be successful, it should directly match four or more of these trends. To help organizations with this, Popcorn et. al. have built up a large consulting organization, BrainReserve, offering a variety of trade-marked products and services (things such as TrendView, BrainJam and ClickTime).
Clicking is a fascinating and important marketing phenomenon for two reasons: first , the trends themselves do have some merit and need to be understood to fully understand consumer behavior today; and second, the packaging and presentation of the book (a not to mention the companion audiotape) is itself an object lesson in self aggrandizement, and business development through client puffery. A cynic would see the book as simply a giant advertisement for BrainReserve's services - but then, as Popcorn admits in the book, she is in the marketing business.
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