- Consumerism as a philosophy that constantly reinforces ideas of individual choice, preference and desire and provides legitimacy for fulfilling the same.
- Media dominance coupled with rapid expansion of the fashion & glamour industry working in tandem to promote identity exploration and image projection. n Media driven activism blurring the boundaries between private and public and forcing the state to intervene in the private lives of citizens e.g., the child runner Budhia case.
- Growing affluence, 24x7x365 working lives and paucity of time coupled with greater work mobility forcing a focus on and prioritisation of individual commitments.We can expect the following outcomes:
The continuing need to stand out and not be anonymous, be seen as ‘someone special’ will fuel the desire for self-expression, especially amongst youth. Fashion will become a powerful tool for this, expect spiky hair, strange haircuts, body piercing, tattooing, more bizarre clothes et al. The next decade will see everyone engaged in an ongoing quest to make ‘my personal statement’ through everything they own, use and wear. By the middle or end of the next decade, with huge growth in broad band connectivity, 3G phones et al, and a tech-savvy young generation, we can expect young people to explore alternative identities through avatars in sites like Second Life. There will be greater and greater demarcation and boundaries between ‘my space’, ‘my things’ and ‘your space’ and ‘your things’ even amongst family members. With high time pressure, people will seek their own ‘personal and private’ time for themselves to do the things that they want to do. New technologies and gadgets will enable each family member to escape into their own world.
The stereotype of the ‘new-age family’ will be one where each family member is around in the drawing room but each absorbed in his/her own gadget. This direction of individualism is inherently isolating, hence runs in opposition to the Indian cultural imprint, which is relationship oriented. Thus, there will be a corrective counter force that will compel people to seek a balance. People will use technology and also find other ways to maintain deep family ties and inter-connectedness. Three possibilities present themselves. The search for and membership of ‘like-minded’ groups and activities undertaken together will grow hugely and become mainstream resulting in explosive growth of clubs of all kinds. The internet will be a powerful enabler. Families will live in separate spaces but have deeply shared lives. E-mail, webcam, Skype, cell phones et al make it possible for people to live away yet know every detail of each other’s lives and consult each other on a daily basis. So, what’s the future? American style Individualism or fundamental change? No. Indian Ishtyle individualism or change with continuity? Yes. The author is a consumer trend spotter