Growing Social Change Will Affect Marketing Decisions

Article excerpt

From the Campbell-Ewald Reference Center comes a compilation of Social Change Briefs, all of which have relevance to the marketer. I repeat them here hoping that you'll find them as interesting and relevant as I.

* McMansion mania: Boomers are purchasing super-sized tract houses on relatively small lots in instant suburban neighborhoods. Today, 30 percent of new houses are more than 2,400 square feet, compared to 18 percent in 1986. The popularity of the mass-produced large home that sells for upwards of $750,000 is a trend seen mostly in the suburban areas of large cities. These McMansions include features such as columned entrances, two-story foyers with marble floors, bathrooms with "his" and "her" dressing rooms, three-car garages, double-sized whirlpool tubs, steam showers, home offices and nanny suites. What they don't have is a lot of land because buyers prefer more house and want neither the chores or isolation that go with a big spread. (Source: New York Times)

* Entrepreneurs, take note(s): Entrepreneurial studies have become one of the hottest fields in business education. More than 1,000 post-secondary schools offer at least one course on starting or running a small business. At the nation's most prestigious universities, the classes are over-subscribed.

Why so? Americans are launching start-up businesses at a frenzied pace. In 1995, about 3.5 million new businesses were formed. Spurred on by corporate downsizing, outsourcing, low-cost technology and a booming economy, new business incorporations have doubled over the last 20 years. (Source: Los Angeles Times)

* Home but not alone: Young adults in record numbers are choosing to live with friends and family as opposed to living alone. Since 1970 the proportion of 25-34 year olds rooming with Mom and Dad has risen 50 percent. Young adults not living at home are sharing apartments with a roommate or with a group of friends a la Friends, Ally McBeal and Beverly Hills 90210. Today, only 63 percent of those aged 25-34 are married or head of household vs. 83 percent in 1970. (Source: USA Weekend)

* Food, fuel and fax: The truck stop is undergoing a remarkable makeover. Enormous complexes, now dubbed "travel centers," that offer manicures, cappuccino bars and amenities unheard of a few years ago, are springing up across the nation and creating a new retailing and recreational milieu for American drivers. In response, truck-stop revenue is rising rapidly. Sales have increased 30 percent in the last five years and now total $35 billion per year. More than 80 percent of truck stops now have fax machines and more than 60 percent have laundry facilities. Other services include professional massage, post offices, beauty salons, swimming pools, movie theaters and shopping mini-malls. (Source: Chicago Tribune)

* Tuning in to talk: Stations that feature news-talk now number over 1,000, vs. only 53 fifteen years ago. What is fueling the popularity of talk broadcasting? From the station owner's point of view, production costs are much lower and talk sells products better than any other radio format. These programs also "serve the need for connection with other people," says the editor of Talk Magazine. So many Americans no longer connect with neighbors, family or friends that their human need for community is being met by what he calls "a virtual, electronic, global media community." (Source: American Demographics)

* Games people play: A new and fast growing industry is that of online game production. Companies that produce the games offer access to Web sites where their electronic games can be played for free or for a fee. At stake is a market that could soon be worth $1 billion.

To play an online game, a user logs on to the Internet and downloads software by modem. The game is then played against other players who could be as close as next door, or as far away as the other side of the world. …