11 themes of the Zeitgeist for 2011


Our recently launch Map of the Decade triptych comprised three parts: the Map of the Decade, details on the ExaTrends of the Decade, and the 11 themes of the Zeitgeist for 2011.

I think may have been a mistake to put the Map of the Decade and Zeitgeist themes in the one document, as many only see the front page and don’t get to the Zeitgeist themes, and they come from quite different perspectives (1 year as against 10 years). As such, I’ve taken out the Zeitgeist themes here, with the image and full text below. Click on the image to download the complete pdf – go to page 3 for descriptions of the Zeitgeist themes.

Zeitgeist for 2011



1. Networked or Not?

We are all facing a fundamental choice that will shape our lives. Many dive headlong into a world of always-on connection, open social networks, and oversharing. A few cry halt and choose to live only in the old world of tight-knit personal communication. The result is a divided society.

2. Debt Anxiety

With the global economy seemingly continually teetering on the verge of an abyss, few feel assured about the next few months, let alone beyond. Determined debt avoidance will push discount hunting and postponement of desire. Governments find that debt is the unavoidable elephant that is tramples on their best-laid plans.

3. Mobile Universe

We experience the explosive inflection point of almost everything we know shifting to mobile. The infinite resources of the web are used mainly on mobile devices, location-based services give us context whe’er we go, and printed newspapers and magazines are supplanted by the iPad. Our entire world will be wherever we are.

4. End of 9 to 5

Work has already moved far beyond the office. Organizations respond by offering flexibility to avoid traffic, pick up the kids, and manage personal affairs at work. The dramatic rise of global work means many have phone calls at odd hours or find their primary clients or suppliers in far-flung places. Work now transcends time.

5. Brands in the Blender

The time it takes for a powerful new brand to grow is the same it takes for an old brand to be trashed: next to no time. As reputation shifts from corporations to individuals, trying to keep control has the opposite effect. Chopping and remixing brand identity is better done by choice than by others.

6. Sensory Indulgence

With many of our basic desires assuaged, we are free to indulge our senses, exploring how richly we can taste, feel, hear, and see. Fine dining explodes as an affordable luxury, while we all become oenophiles. Sensory luxury at home as well as on excursions is a basic expectation.

7. Immersive Entertainment

Aldous Huxley’s vision of the ‘feelies’ is here, as we use surround sound, big screens, 3D, Kinect motion sensors, video glasses, augmented reality, haptic suits, and more to give us a complete experience of our entertainment. Any and all technology that immerses us in other worlds is taken up with alacrity.

8. Terror Tomorrow

With terror yesterday and terror tomorrow, the interregnum is more tedious than terrifying. The calls for personal freedom and inviolate junk rise. That is, until tomorrow becomes today, bringing additional control and surveillance to everyday life, and more pushback than last time.

9. Social News Curation

Who goes to the newspaper front page or 6pm news for their news fix? As more of us share what we like and who our friends are, individually curated news is at each of our fingertips. Web, tablets, and mobiles will offer us the all the news that fits who we are.

10. Wrath of Crowds

BP and Nestlé have experienced how global mobs can egg each other on and amplify their voices to ravage reputations. Across nations, politics is becoming more volatile, with missteps and mismatched moods crystallizing concerted opposition. The wrath of many will be expressed more powerfully than ever before.

11. Everyone Naked

WikiLeaks moving into the crosshairs marks the point when society becomes transparent. As individuals we are already scrutinized by marketers who know us better than we do. Corporations succeed governments in their fear of inner workings being unmasked. Many rail and flail but there is no going back.