“Simplicity Sells: The Unplugged Moment”

Today our lives are divided into two realms. Part of the day is spent in the Internet world, where we’re working as fast as we can, as hard as we can. Yet when we’re not in high gear, we want to completely "unplug" and slow down.

Stress is the "malady du jour." Everyone has too much of it, and they want ways to decompress.

Some signs of the times:

  • Self-help books offering practical, down-home advice, are flying off bookstore shelves.
  • Nostalgic accessories: Fountain pens are big. After spending your entire day on a computer keyboard, who doesn’t long for a Mont Blanc?
  • Sabbaticals and retreats are increasingly popular. In fact, there are waiting lists to visit monasteries.
  • Homespun hobbies: People are weaving and knitting to unravel angst.

Take heart, marketers. Folks are paring down, but they need products and services to help them streamline. Consumerism will remain intact.

"Unplug" your offerings: Position them as vehicles of independence and freedom from the high-tech treadmill. Products and services have to be unstuffy, soothing. For example, home is where the heart is, and consumers are transforming their residences into retreats. Think Pottery Barn, Shabby Chic.

In the hospitality industry, hotels are unplugging by abandoning cookiecutter models and inventing unique looks and services. At the Soho Grand, guests are given a goldfish when they check in. At W New York, another hotel, you receive a wood box of wheat grass. It may sound bizarre, but if you’re taking care of a plant or a pet, you feel much more at home.

Source: Larry Samuel, co-founder of Iconoculture, a Minneapolis-based trend forecasting company, and co-author of "The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be" (Riverhead Books, 1998).