Saturday, January 03, 2009

Predictions for 2009

I've never been one to make New Year's predictions, but given the uncertainties we seem to be facing as we enter 2009, I thought it'd be fun to try my hand at recognizing and projecting salient trends. I think this game largely involves interpreting the implications of economic recession. At the risk of oversimplification, but according to conventional wisdom, there are two facts in play that can form the basis of anyone's conjectures: 1) People have less discretionary income and 2) They are less willing to spend that which they have. With that in mind, what alterations to the status quo can we expect? Here's one person's list:

1) The end of the era of "hidden fees." The most notorious example of this is the extra charges appended to a concert or event ticket. People have complained about it for years. After Pearl Jam famously tried to singlehandedly end the practice before unconditionally capitulating, most people thought that never again would the face value of a ticket represent the actual price paid. But now it appears that Ticketmaster is considering giving in. I don't expect this to mean that overall prices are going to be coming down, but in an era where every last dollar will be scrutinized, I think companies are wisely recognizing that it is time to be upfront about charges.

2) Part of the reason Ticketmaster might be coming around is because they might have some competition now that the company Live Nation is getting into ticket distribution. For years they were a monopoly. But even without the threat of Live Nation, you could make the case that Ticketmaster is no longer a monopoly. When staying home and not paying anything is as viable of an option as buying a concert ticket, it can be said that Ticketmaster has competition. From this perspective, I predict that entertainment venues will make an effort to decrease costs that don't provide immediate tangible satisfaction to the consumer. The most obvious example is the parking fee. I anticipate businesses picking up more of the cost of parking, and overall parking charges to decrease (though this might not hold true for public facilities, if shortsighted officials determine that increased parking fees might help with budgets).

3) Reversing a decades-long trend, I see products valued more for durability than for convenience. Even if it costs more, I think people are psychologically more willing to invest in something that will be perceived as long-lasting. If there were any way to access data, I would love to see candy sales. I think hard candy sales will be up in 2009 and chocolate will be down. If movie theaters are smart, they will bring back the double feature.

4) Speaking of movie theaters, I'm always interested in how narratives reflect culture, or what we can learn about ourselves by the types of stories that we tell ourselves. I predict, towards the end of 2009 into 2010 (assuming we don't have an actors strike), a rise in stories about valiant mothers and fathers protecting their families from various threats (be they political, economic, environmental, or psychotic killers). People's instincts will become more insular, and barring any unforeseen foreign developments, our concerns will be less about saving the world and more about saving those close to us. And we might see a trend toward entertainment appealing to an older demographic, as the youth market, already terribly fragmented by technology, becomes further diluted by lack of discretionary income.

5) Less obesity. I think the number one contributor to our nation's weight problem is the size of food portions. As people eat out less, they will get used to eating less at a time. (Caveat: I speak of general trends, and make no such promises for myself).

6) More people will buy second-hand clothes, such as from teecycle.org. (You're welcome).

7) And unrelated to the economy, I predict that more than 303 people (the band's current friend total on Myspace) will realize that John Fogerty's two children have a pretty good band, Steamtrain Mary. And on the subject of unsigned artists, I think more than 2800 people will discover that a 20-year-old college student named Reina del Cid is better than anyone you will see on American Idol.

8) Finally, although I make no guarantees for quality and I offer no refunds, I predict that I will post 52 blog entries in 2009.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow Azor!
I'd agree with you on all of them except two. 1. Obesity,while yes eating out at almost all restaurants has gone down, there is one that has gone up, McDonald's. 2. The types of movies. Although more may be made as you said, I say ones with more escapist fantasy will be more profitable. I say this because one of the best loved movies of all time now, It's a Wonderful Life, didn't do well after WWII ended. Surmising that this war we are in will be coming to an end soon and looking at the times, which are much like the depression was, I think Disney movies will probably have a better showing. Hope you and yours had a great Holiday.

5:50 PM  
Blogger Teecycle Tim said...

I added you to the Who Loves Us page: http://teecycle.org/who-loves-us/

I think pricing has a lot to do with options and the splintering of the market: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2009/01/change-your-pri.html

Wrote about bad economy and good health here: http://www.milwaukeemagazine.com/trainingwithtim/default.asp?NewMessageID=23614

12:48 AM  
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