Archive for March, 2007

Social Trends 2: The World Future Society

March 1, 2007

For about a decade, I was a member of the World Future Society, a group that does research, analysis and forecasting of future trends. I eventually decided that they were a bit too stodgy for me, and dropped my membership. I still drop in on them from time to time though, because their demographics-related forecasts are usually pretty close to reality. Some of their forecasts, however, are a bit silly in my estimation.

One of the ways to get a quick overview of WFS’s forecasts is to look at their Top Ten Forecasts newsletter.

Here are a few of them:

  • Many Generation Y Americans will spend significant if not all of their adult lives overseas.
  • 75% of the U.S. population will live on the coasts by 2025.
  • Workers will increasingly choose more time over more money.
  • A rise in disabled Americans will strain public transportation systems.

Go take a look. Some of the forecasts will surprise you.

Not mentioned in the top ten, but in my estimation an important set of trends are the following:

  • There will be a resurgence in the “Corner Grocery Store” as the Boomers age and the disabled vets become a significant part of our U.S. population.
  • Small electric “golf cart-like” vehicles will become a significant part of street-level traffic. Look here and here (warning, slow loading), and here.
  • Grocery shopping will be done online, and the big box stores will become distribution centers rather than shopping destinations. Large trucks will unload into the big boxes on one side, stocking will be automated, and small delivery vehicles will exit the other side. This is not a new idea. When the potential of the web was first realized, a couple of companies attempted to do this, thinking that if you can delivery pizzas, why not all groceries? In that first attempt, most of the companies went belly up, but one of the oldest, Peapod lives on.

So, what kinds of forecast do you think will be viable, both in the near term, and in the long term? Don’t limit your prognostications to the U.S. Zoom out and look worldwide.

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