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Emerging and Evolving Trends: 2011 | 2007 | 2006

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Emerging and Evolving Trends for 2011 and Beyond

Hallmark trend expert tracks society’s shifting attitudes, perceptions and behaviors

Hallmark trend spotter Marita Wesely compiles an annual review of societal trends that provide insight into American culture.“The goal is to spot societal change, and synthesize observations into cultural and consumer insights,” Wesely said. “Understanding the consumer and the ever-changing marketplace is the first step in creating new, innovative products.” Wesely’s broad qualitative observations provide insight and perspective to complement quantitative data gathered by Hallmark’s in-house research teams. “Understanding trends is essential for companies and other organizations that deal with change,” Wesely said. “The adage that ‘nothing is certain but change’ is a cornerstone of trend research.”

2011 and Beyond: Emerging and Evolving Trends

Though technology has enabled what many consider instantaneous communication, as sensate beings, nothing replaces the immediacy of looking someone in the eye, speaking to them in person, or giving them an embrace. True dialogue, to hear someone's voice and be able to respond in conversation is the most real of encounters. When effective communication is the order of the day, meeting face to face enables a connection like no other.

No product, good, service or experience will be offered without being put to the test, shaped by an intense three-way conversation… the ongoing dialogue among the originator of an idea, its manufacturer, and the person who buys it will build and intensify until it becomes impossible to distinguish one from the other. Will it be the industrial designer who created the product, the consumer feedback that altered the initial concept, or the specific manufacturing requirements that shape what ultimately is sold? Going forward, these boundaries will blur and morph as a myriad of new ways to bring forward market innovations proliferate.

After years of a sagging economy, we found ourselves “down under.” Under employed. Under utilized. Under appreciated. In some quarters, under investment and under consumption may continue, but only for a while. We will see the light at the end of the economic tunnel, as we move forward from this fall back zone. Significant new steps will be taken as we thrive once more. Both individuals and companies will begin to reclaim the momentum inherent in democracy’s promise.

As rising costs of fuel and energy take their toll, watch as both suburbanites and people from rural areas flock to the cities for the benefits and dynamic energy urban living provides. It is in vibrant global cities where new ideas will be born and innovation will flourish, fueled by the learning and life possibilities for individuals. The center will hold. Mega cities will survive, even thrive in this next century, as vital centers for the arts, sciences, education, entertainment, and commerce.

Looking the part rather than being qualified for the part is what will matter. Not so much what is said, but the manner in which it is stated is becoming increasingly important. Less important is the "statement" of fact than sticking to the script. Making a good impression on video or live television will take on greater significance than one’s record, business accomplishments or integrity. Leaders of countries, large organizations, corporations, and educational and religious institutions increasingly are receiving media training, helping them cultivate a positive 360 degree persona for themselves as well as the entities they represent.

Idealized or sensationalized accounts of the news will pass for fact - or at least amusement. Look for less objectivity and more opinionating as journalism becomes more about what the masses want to hear or what will sell and less about fact in reporting. The sensationalized version of information available on a current topic or global situation will become more exciting and engaging than what truly occurred, as it becomes more important to be first than right. Accuracy in reporting on the web and in most of the media - will continue to decline as spin and the "reality show effect" transforms reality itself.

Google Earth is only a tip of the global iceberg, as a variety of sites allow viewers to travel to a street on any continent, browse around and soak up local color. There will be no reason for international travel, when we can be here, there, or anywhere while luxuriating in the comfort of our own living rooms. Our whole concept of privacy will be permanently altered, as what was once known as personal space, both online and in the world, becomes increasingly more public. But then voyeurism has always been fun.

The concept of a nation state is being replaced by the emergence of huge corporations that function almost as countries in themselves. With a number of multinationals, yearly profits exceed the GNP of some nations. When mega companies have this excessive economic clout, political muscle is not far behind. We are transitioning from a historical period dominated by nation states to one shaped by the increasingly powerful corporate state, whose economic reach will be just as pervasive as the key dominant countries of the past have been.

Driven by the economy and the cost involved in creating anything (furniture, house wares, cars, homes, office buildings) from scratch, companies, educational institutions and individuals are referencing past successes to shape the future. Relying on elements that may have worked in government, science, education, architecture, music or design, the list goes on - people are combining the best of the past with the best of the present solutions or thinking to fashion something new.

Sounding more like a workout, this mantra for big businesses will determine future success on a vast global scale. As the speed of economic development accelerates in second and third world nations, watch for the growth of a robust middle market. International corporations will clamor to create products tailored to the regional or local needs of a newly minted middle class. The ability to remain fast and flexible, to be able to capitalize on these new global markets, while maintaining equilibrium in those markets already established, will separate the winners and losers.

Technology continues to redefine the concept of physical presence as it increases our ability to influence and effect outcomes half way across the globe. Tellers of truth and purveyors of fiction each express themselves, unchecked and uncensored. Watch as Facebook and Twitter impact political issues, even more than social ones. The accessibility of information, questionable or not, will escalate levels of disagreement on inflammatory issues, polarizing existing differences. Developing second and third world nations will turn off the Internet in futile attempts to exert control, in an effort to limit the impact of (outside) ideas not supportive of their current status quo.

Statistics indicate that the median age across the globe is on the rise. The stage soon will be set for nations, corporations, institutions, infrastructures and systems to be rocked to the core as the number of people over 65 increases more rapidly than the number of babies born. Though conflicting views abound about what the result of the seismic population shift to the "grey zone" will be, it is likely to be more positive and productive than popular wisdom predicts.

2011 and Beyond:Strengthening Cultural Shifts

These continuing cultural shifts were first noted by Marita Wesely in the year indicated.

There will be increased polarization into groups, whether political, economic, religious or philosophical. Regardless of age, ethnicity or affiliation, individuals will long for the security achieved by aligning with those "like us." We are seeing "tribes" within cities, elite social clubs, loyal brand devotees gathering for annual events, as well as group identities created via fashion, language or the wearing of symbols. More than ever, we will gravitate toward communities of like minds - people whose interests, world views or values reinforce our own.

Whether a personal collection, museum exhibition, book of short stories, or even a blog, consistency and clarity in editing will become important. Curation - the skill and art of compiling and arranging ideas, works of art, stories, data, or world events in a clear accessible way is more critical than ever. In both the “dirtual” and virtual worlds, universities, companies, scientific and even religious institutions will be concerned with "idea curation" because the way information, knowledge and culture is sorted and contextualized will shape the way people think. Which in turn will influence people’s attitudes - the choices they make and the way they live.

With constant change the norm, people are choosing to control what they can, actively inviting beauty into their lives and outlooks. Décor, clothing and even behavior will reflect a return to refinement. Care will be taken to set a hospitable tone whether in creating a calm living environment or preparing a beautiful table. The everyday experiences of living will become more gracious and elegant. There will be increased interest in quality products created from refined natural materials in clothing, décor and furnishings. The effort expended "for company," will become part of daily life. Courtesy and grace, as well as the luxury of beauty and tranquil space, will serve as welcome respite in a world at times unkind.

NEW SPIRIT: Resilience (2002)
After the hard knocks reality dishes out, individuals, organizations and nations will have choices to make. Expect to see more people rise above difficult situations, whether personal, professional or political, and choosing to make a positive difference. Hope will be kept alive, allowing a new optimism to emerge. "Second naïveté"- the ability to meet challenges head on, will prevail, in spite of prior setbacks.

--About Hallmark Cards, Inc.
Hallmark makes the world a more caring place by helping people express what’s in their hearts and spend time together - a privilege few other companies in the world enjoy. Hallmark greeting cards and other products are found in more than 40,000 retail outlets in the U.S., including the network of flagship Hallmark Gold Crown® stores. The brand also reaches people online at and on television through Hallmark Hall of Fame original movies and cable’s top-rated Hallmark Channel. Worldwide, Hallmark offers products in more than 30 languages available in 100 countries. This privately held company is based in Kansas City, Mo., and is led by the third generation of the founding Hall family. Hallmark Spokesperson:816-274-4873
© 2011 Hallmark Cards, Inc.

Emerging and Evolving Trends: 2011 | 2007 | 2006

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