Heading for a FREEconomy?

This week, a ton of reports on inflation, unemployment and other economic indicators are slated to hit Wall Street. While the financial world braces, everyday Americans don't need data to tell them the economy is in the crapper!

Beyond the gas pump, we're beginning to feel it in other areas now. Some of us may even realize that we have some choices to make: We can grab our tax rebates and continue to spend -- OR we can do the smart thing and scale back a little, simplify - or maybe even get out of debt! What we're feeling here in America is surely going to hit other markets, too - as our spending ability (and willingness) decline and impact the economy of producing nations.

Beyond the economy, an increasing number of people are becoming overwhelmed by the sheer weight of the "stuff" they own. We aren't just over stimulated by media messages, but by the physical things we accumulate. This doesn't just influence us to give stuff away -- it makes us want to spend less.

Therefore, I suspect, in the near future, we'll be seeing a new trend in marketing and customer experience targeted to folks of all economic ranges who are beginning to scale back, spend less, simplify and economize.

Interestingly, this will have a direct influence on what Reinier Evers, founder of Trendwatching calls "FREE LOVE" in this month's trendwatching report. According to Evers, the Free Love trend is defined as follows:

FREE LOVE: the ongoing rise of free, valuable stuff that's available to consumers online and offline. From AirAsia tickets to Wikipedia, and from diapers to music.

FREE LOVE thrives on an all-out war for consumers' ever-scarcer attention and the resulting new business models and marketing techniques, but also benefits from the ever-decreasing costs of producing physical goods, the post-scarcity dynamics of the online world (and the related avalanche of free content created by attention-hungry members of GENERATION C), the many C2C marketplaces enabling consumers to swap instead of spend, and an emerging recycling culture.

The trendwatching report will fill you in on the astonishing amount of free goodies there are to be had, from wireless, national and international phone service, free airline tickets, free food & beverages, car rentals, photo prints, textbooks, travel guides, wifi, gps, stock photography, notes, photocopies, financial management, games, bikes, music, vacation homes... and much more.

According to trendwatching, the rise in free love is attributed to a number of factors and I agree with all of them. It even addresses how my own increased desire to get rid of our crap and clutter plays into the free love phenomena (swap - not spend...etc).

My only critique of this excellent briefing is that it doesn't seem include the economy as an influencing factor in the expansion of the free love trend. I am positive it will have a direct impact. Whatever the case, the report is FREE! Read it to get goodies, or do it for the ideas - but read it!

Also, check out this month's WIRED magazine's headline story "FREE"! Happy reading!


LivePath said...

Seth Godin echoes my assertions about the economy here . - Leigh

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I’m Leigh Durst, a 20 year veteran in business, operations, customer strategy, ecommerce, digital & social media and marketing. Simply put, I’m a strategist that helps companies (start-up to blue chip) achieve business shift, create more compelling online and offline experiences. I also write, speak and teach about experience design and next-generation business. I’m a futurist, visionary, strategist, doer and connector with a passion for people and helping others. When I’m not on the road, you’ll find me in the San Francisco bay area, working, beaching it and hanging out with my family and dog.


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