A hybrid world, with blurring lines

“In the next 10 to 15 years we will set the parameter for how the world will look in the next 100 years. Now is the time to engage.” Mark Comerford, co-founder of digital training organisation Hyper Island (Marketingmagazine.co.uk, March 26, 2013)

2015 will be a year of paradoxes. The current era is experiencing a harsh economic and political climate, creating a tough and hard-to-deal-with global environment. Cultural, behavioral and consumer trends are changing while overlapping or contradicting each other. Boundaries are getting blurred, fading away or even disappearing, whereas geographical borders have never been so clearly drawn. There are fewer trade-offs between what the individual wants and what the group needs. Family structures are more varied, personal identities are more fluid, private and work lives get confused, genders are less clear-cut, technology brings the world into the home, and indulgences are accessible and affordable.

Changes are taking place at the opposite ends of the spectrum: being extremely connected on one side, and enjoying resting and peaceful times on the other, thinking about oneself and cultivating one’s self-image while fitting in one’s community and helping others. Having a global vision but consuming local products. Encouraging the westernization of the world in order to promote the development of emerging markets. Going always farther in the enhancement of human capabilities while preserving authenticity and naturalness. Pushing technology to the most while reviving the past. Seeking greater security and protecting privacy while sharing each and every detail of one’s personal existence and expecting transparency from institutions and brands. That many paradoxes and oppositions are shaping tomorrow’s consumer trends. We live in a schizophrenic world that creates tensions between the main contemporary paradigms, leading consumers to feel compelled to choose a single option. Actually, choice should mean multiplication, combination and enrichment rather than dismissal. In other words, balance is more achievable than ever.

Speaking of tomorrow’s consumers – the Millennials obviously – these 15-34 years olds are about 16 million in France, according to INSEE, which accounts for one fourth of the French population. In 2020, they will represent half of the workforce. In the United States, they are 80 million, and 364 million in China. This generation of young adults was born in a globalized world; they grew up with the Internet and embraced spectacular technology advances. Millennials understand all the on-going changes in the world and, instead of putting up with the gloom and giving in to the continuous pressure they face every day, these young but savvy individuals are tempted to turn things to their own advantage by adopting a new lifestyle. This new mindset has resulted in a cultural shift in values​​ – they certainly have to deal with a fast-paced environment, yet they aspire to a much slower movement and do everything they can to reach this goal.

The Usbek & Rica team