@2000 chat with a futurist
January 10, 2000
(CNN) -- Futurist and author Faith Popcorn, joined the CNN.com chat room on January 3, 2000 from New York City as part of CNN's 100 hours coverage to mark the start of the Year 2000.
Popcorn is the best-selling author of Clicking and The Popcorn Report, and founder of BrainReserve, the futurist marketing consultancy she established in 1974. Popcorn joined the chat by telephone and CNN.com provided a typist for her. The following is an edited transcript of the chat.
Chat Moderator: Thank you for joining us today, Faith Popcorn, and welcome to the chat!
Faith Popcorn: Hello, everyone!
Chat Moderator: Please tell us a little bit about your background.
Faith Popcorn: I started in advertising, as a creative director. I started my company in 1974. We advise the Fortune 500 on the waves of the future, so they know what's appropriate for consumers in the future. My next book will be "EVEolution, The Eight Truths Of Marketing To Women."
Question from greta: What is the source of information for a futurist to predict future?
Faith Popcorn: We are interviewing about 6000 consumers, globally. We have a TalentBank of 5500 experts, globally. We do something called brailling the culture, where we visit stores, and happenings, and clubs, and all sorts of things all over the world, reading everything in about 12 languages. We watch the TV programs, to understand the lexicon. We're constantly out there, listening and watching, and generally seeing what's going on. The smart thing about this is not only to find information, but to be able to link it together, and see what it predicts for the future.
Question from babyroo: What to you see as the next main trend (besides the internet) to affect us globally?
Faith Popcorn: Well, the internet is not a trend, it's a technological advance. The internet causes trends. One trend we're seeing is cocooning, people staying at home. The next thing I'm foreseeing is a virtual closet, a 9 x 12 area in every person's home. You can go into this closet, and tour the world. You can meet anyone, dead or alive, from science to the arts. You can even go to the supermarket and decide what you want, home-delivered, for dinner.
Chat Moderator: How will we be living as a species? Will we communicate differently? Will we eat or educate differently?
Faith Popcorn: A lot of the communication will not need words. Much will be telepathic. Or, a better way to say it, people and computers will merge, and will be able to receive messages from each other, with no real words, as we know them today.
Question from ronin: What is your view on the so-called "one to one" marketing model?
Faith Popcorn: My feeling is that one-to-one marketing will be the model. You'll watch a sitcom, and be able to order anything from it, from the dog to what they're drinking. All products will be sold "ego-nomically" meaning that every product will be customized for the individual, in any color, flavor, whatever nutrients your body needs at the time. One-to-one marketing will be much more developed than it is today.
Chat Moderator: If you were a child being born today - what would define the life you would live in a new millennium?
Faith Popcorn: None of the chores would be there. You'd never have to clean your house, add a column of numbers, walk the dog, bear childbirth as it is now. Education would be virtual, you'd pick a side and act in a war. There would be a different life, going forward.
Question from Amy1: Will there be any meaningful social interaction between/among people?
Faith Popcorn: The idea is that you can meet anyone globally, speak all languages. With chip implantation, you'll speak whatever language you want, and work anywhere in the world you want, without going there. You'll be able to access people with similar interests, or similar DNA's.
Question from ronin: What jobs or careers do you believe are most endangered and why?
Faith Popcorn: I think management is in danger. People won't need management, especially while working at home. Especially upper management, they'll need to reformat their thinking. Menial jobs will be accomplished by computer, like cleaning, those kinds of jobs. Bathrooms will be cleaned automatically. Anything that doesn't need extraordinary brain power will be done by machine. There will be a melding between man or woman and machine.
Question from babyroo: What time frame do you foresee these changes occurring in? Our lifetimes?
Faith Popcorn: I'm talking a short time frame. The virtual reality closet will be there in 3 to 5 years. The melding of man or woman and machine? 15 years. You already see it, the way children are working on computers, itís the same.
Question from greta: Will there be any further developments on the spiritual side?
Faith Popcorn: I think spirituality is on the upswing. We're seeing the "spiritual cocktail." It's about taking a little from every sect, a little Jewish, a little Catholic, a little Zen-Buddhist, maybe some walking meditations. The way you like it... it's the trend of ego-nomics. We'll customize everything the way we want it, even religion.
Chat Moderator: How will bioengineering change our health?
Faith Popcorn: Bio-engineering is probably one of the most frightening and exciting sciences. It will change us, because we'll be able to predict disease, and ultimately prevent it. That's the wonderful part. The frightening part is that we'll be able to predict sex of children, hair color, etc., and change it. It will bring tremendous ethical challenges. We'll create a perfect tomato, then find out that the tomato will cause a disease that we've never heard of.
That brings us to a new trend that we've identified here at BrainReserve called "FutureTense." FutureTense is defined as "consumers, anxiety-ridden by simultaneous social, economic, political and ethical chaos, find themselves beyond their ability to cope today or imagine tomorrow."
FutureTense really leads us to our incredible quest for nostalgia which we define in a trend called DownAging. DownAging is defined as "nostalgia for their care-free childhood, baby boomers find comfort in familiar pursuits and products from their youth." That would explain the tremendous success of Oreos, Nick at Nite, the Brady Bunch, Superman, Batman, and things like that.
Question from benny: Tell us about your new book...EVEolution?...and can we get it yet?
Faith Popcorn: EVEolution is defined as "the way women think and behave is impacting business, causing a marketing shift away from the hierarchical model toward a relational one," or, another way to put it, "Women mean business." That's about the enormous power that female businesses are representing. They employ more people than the Fortune 500 combined. They own 8,000,000 businesses in the U.S. By 2005, 40% of all firms will be female-owned. They're responsible for 3.2 trillion dollars in sales. They open a business every 60 seconds. Mainly, these are women leaving corporate America, and doing it on their own. So, it's an enormously powerful group that is totally unrecognized and under-leveraged by large companies.
Question from Henry: Is Faith Popcorn your real name?
Faith Popcorn: The story of my name is... I used to work in an advertising agency, and my boss, Gino Garlanda, could never pronounce my real name, which was Plotkin, and he would always introduce me to clients as Faith Popcorn. So, I changed it! It's on page 100 of The Popcorn Report.
Question from enhancer: How do you see longer life expectancy influencing consumerism?
Faith Popcorn: Well, we believe that people will, very shortly, live to 100 years, and eventually live to almost 300 years. That means that a product company has to be more brilliant in creating sound relationships with the consumer, because they'll live a long time and represent a lot of consumer dollars. We address this a lot in "EVEolution," where we talk extensively about how to create a solid, ethical and long relationship with the market you service. Because women are very different from everyone else, you really need to understand the truths of marketing to women, to effectively service them over a long period of time.
Question from ronin: What happens to privacy with such high levels of automation via the computer? I think that the issue of privacy is both growing and fading. Privacy can really not exist in the future. These marketers will know so much about us, and will extrapolate so much more from the information they have, they'll know better than our mothers what we like to eat, drink, how we like to play. Actually, and a bit frighteningly, this information about us is already in the computers of many financial service organizations.
Chat Moderator: Any final thoughts?
Faith Popcorn: I think that the female market is very little understood, because the female body and mind is little-understood, even by females. That means that the way women think, as Helen Fisher puts it, in web-thinking, which means big, expansive, side-tracked way of approaching issues and problems, needs to be marketed to. This means that women believe something that comes to them more from the side, than directly. So, when we hear about a product from an unexpected place, we tend to believe it more. One of the truths of EVEolution is everything matters, you can't hide behind your logo.
Faith Popcorn: That would really mean marketing America recasting their thinking, to say that the way every executive behaves, the way every part of the product is sourced, the way that people who work in the country are treated... all of it matters to us as consumers, and we are demanding to know more and more of what goes on behind the corporate veil.
Chat Moderator: Thank you for chatting with us today!
Faith Popcorn: Goodbye, chatters! This has been fun! You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!
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