Monday, 19 July 2010
5 Trend-Predictions for the UK
The situation in Britain is currently a bit like in an aeroplane after a bumpy flight: Passengers are a bit fed up, and had enough but feel that altogether it hasn't been too bad. On comes the voice of the captain, warning them that NOW "please fasten seat belts, we're in for some turbulence". Collective sigh goes through the cabin.In the light of the up-coming budget cuts I've been canvassing people, looked at Social Media behaviour and evaluated newspaper articles. On that basis, I have formulated 5 trends which I think will become relevant in the coming months, heading up to April 2011 when most of the cuts will have been implemented.
This is a sort of meta-trend which will influence and spin a lot of others. Currently, the best way to monitor this trend is on Social Media sites like Twitter. People in the UK are boosting their accounts with local followers. Where somebody say 6 months ago had 300 followers from all over the world, they now have 600 with the on-top influx made up of followers from their home town/region. This makes perfect sense as people are huddling together not just for comfort, but for real and tangible benefits. Business contacts, future referees, people with clout in the ever shrinking job market will prove useful when the going gets tough. Also,bartering services and skills will make an awful lot of sense when applied locally.
2. Going loco
For some time now, people have preferred to holiday in Britain ratherthan go abroad. Cost, currency fluctuations and travel disruption saw to this. In future, this tend will become a lot stronger. Not just abroad will hit the dust, but also any far-flung UK destination, like Scotland or Cornwall. Petrol costs, and the unaffordable insecurity of whether a costly holiday will work out (weather, accommodation etc.) It is simply too risky to travel for hundreds of miles, spending hundreds of pounds just to find out you don't like what you see. Lots of people I spoke to have confirmed this trend, and have already made bookings far more locally, i.e. directly in their area. For example, local campsites in Essex for Londoners, will definitely see a business increase.
3. Adieu Foodies
Eating out in restaurants is expensive, and not always as pleasurable as hoped for. Few families in future will be prepared to take this financial risk, esp. with high prices and increased VAT. But not just restaurants, food in general will feel the pinch. This week, Waitrose has pre-emptively and quietly increased its prices, especially for pre-prepared food. As soon as families will feel the pinch, anything outlandish, experimental or simply too expensive will fall by the wayside. Experimenting will no longer be a part of eating/cooking. Faddish recipes and unknown ingredients will be out, traditional cooking methods and homely, cheap meals will be in. Already, food magazines are losing readers by droves. People are playing it very safe. Baking (esp. cupcakes which cost virtually nothing to make, but look pretty) is a major trend. Stews, one-posts etc. which can be re-heated on several occasions do not allow for the foodie-allure of the past decade.
This time round, migration will also be affected by the spirit of "no experimenting". People will not be prepared to risk their whole livelihood by, say, emigrating to the US to make their fortune. Migration from economically disadvantaged areas like Scotland or Northern Ireland will be a lot more "local" thereby minimising cost and risk. "Nearby" better-off places like Newcastle (for Scots) , or Liverpool for NI, will take the brunt of inner-British "migrants". If it doesn't work out, people can always go back. Also, cultural alienation and the feeling of being looked-down upon will be minimised if your background and values are still similar. Whilst people will still be hoping to do better for themselves, the are no longer prepared to seek a fortune in a totally alien environment and simply hope for the best.
5. Vote Labour
Already, people are criticising the areas where budget cuts are deemed necessary. Regional dissatisfaction will also increase ("Why us"?) The natural receptacle for this discontent will be the opposition Labour party which should see a huge increase in membership and support. Already, Labour is organising vox pop protest forums on Social Media. In general, people will feel that "something will have to be done" to raise their voice against a cut-trigger-happy government, especially when those cuts will hit targets that can easily be seen as "unfair", i. e. victimising the already disadvantaged (the elderly, poorer areas etc.)Voicing their opposition will need to be channelled, and the Labour party will be there to accommodate the vast numbers of dissenters.
I will continue monitoring social and cultural fluctuations over the coming months, and will be publishing further selected trends for specific areas. If you have any comments, I'd be most willing to incorporate them in what will become a major UK lifestyle study.