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Predictions are always precarious business. A left-field hit to the economy can throw forecasts into disarray while a scandal, new technology, or a new idea can push trends into unforeseen directions.
Despite this, there are a lot of likelihoods for 2013. The economy is expected to grow more robustly than it has recently, Washington politics notwithstanding. New technology releases, such as better Smart TVs, will most likely change consumer behavior. Some long-term demographic shifts, such as nationwide differences when people get married and have children, will hit tipping points.
Mindshare North America conducted a major study on the top 10 cultural trends for 2013. Here are some of their predictions about how American culture will change in 2013.
Posted 11 Jan. 2013
If 2012 was about a hesitant economic recovery and uncertainty about the U.S. political agenda, 2013 will be about 'rebuilding America.'
In 2013 the economy is finally expected to gather steam, and 2013 GDP growth is expected to stand at between 2.3 percent and 3 percent, according to the Federal Reserve. This will create potential for a more noticeable post-recession boom..
The emphasis will be on American-made goods and services.Today, 44 percent of consumers agree "buying American is important to me," versus 35 percent in 2007, according to GfK, a market research firm. Companies like Apple and GE have recently announced they will increase manufacturing in the U.S.
There will also be a renewed focus on entrepreneurship. Among young Americans, entrepreneurship is rising, fueled by falling barriers of entry to new technology and inspiration from Silicon Valley.
And our education system will continue to change.You can't speak to a university professor without the mention of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), as young people's appetite for traditional college education wanes.
Americans' values and lifestyles have always varied across the nation; however, differences have been diverging significantly over recent years.
Whether it be when we get married and have kids, social attitudes, or technology use, 2013 will be a tipping point for the nation's differences.
For example, the mean age of women at their first birth has been creeping up noticeably faster in coastal states, plus Colorado, than elsewhere, according to the Centers for Disease Control. A 20-something's lifestyle is now fundamentally different depending on where they live. The state with the highest mean maternal age at birth is Massachusetts (28); the lowest is Mississippi (23).
Family values are changing at different rates, too. For example, the percent of parents who agree, "I like spending most of my time at home with my family" increased faster in the so called red states -- or more conservative -- than in blue states between 2006-2012, according to Simmons.
In addition, education levels, obesity rates, and technology ownership are all increasing at different speeds in red vs. blue states.
In 2013, companies will increasingly have to speak to two different Americas in two very different ways.
In a media environment with greater celebration of the famous and the highly successful, many Americans are feeling the need to feel that everyday life is OK and should be exalted.
For example, Americans are increasingly unsure of themselves. Today 48 percent agree, "I usually wait until other people have tried things before I try them myself," versus 36 percent in 2005, according to GfK. Social media and greater awareness of the lives of the successful via reality TV and Twitter have helped drive this.
In addition, 20-something Millennials brought up believing they're special have had to face the harsh reality of the recent economy.
Because of this we're seeing an increasing trend toward celebrating the small things: Daniel Mercadants' "Routines" short movie project, Cesar Kuriyam's "One Second Every Day" app, and Google Chrome ads.
The desire for surprise, randomness and happenstance will increase.
During the recession consumers focused more on price and couponing, and this tendency is still increasing.Today, 56 percent of consumers say, "I will gladly switch brands to use a coupon," up from 41 percent in 2006, according to GfK.
However, to drive value brands need to differentiate beyond how cheap they are, and Americans' desire for the new and unexpected is higher than ever. Today, 37 percent of 18-34 year-olds say, "I like to change brands for the sake of variety/novelty," up from 30 percent in 2005, according to GfK.
This desire for the unexpected and novelty is seen in Toronto Underground Market events, the warehouse party scene in New York, and the rise of speakeasy bars across the U.S. like Bardot in Miami and Untitled in Chicago.
Technology-driven shopping, donating, investing and activism have led Americans to expect more return for less time and energy.
Technology has made shopping easier. From Amazon's 1-Click ordering to replenishing diapers at diapers.com, we can shop with almost no effort. Consequently, the average number of minutes per day spent shopping has been declining year-on-year (49 minutes in 2006 vs. 43 minutes in 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics), mainly due to the decrease in having to travel to the store.
Living in general has been getting lazier. For a subscription, Birchbox will send you sample beauty products based on your specific needs, saving you time in researching and deciding on new products. Click and Grow produces plant growing kits that water themselves. And why make the effort to be a vegetarian when you can be a "flexitarian" and go meatless just a few days a week?
Kickstarter has made investing in startups easier; visitors to Change.org have been increasing as people can sign petitions from the comfort of their armchairs; and activism has turned to "slactivism" with "Buy 1Give 1" initiatives by companies like TOMS and Warby Parker.
The importance of creative expression has been growing among Americans. However, this is no "get out the easel and paint" creativity. It's Instagramming your photo, discovering new art at Art.sy, or DIYing by kit.
Americans are more creatively-minded. Today, 28 percent agree that "being creative and imaginative is extremely important," up from 23 percent in 2006, according to Simmons. But much of this creativity comes without effort – Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapseed all give us the feeling of self-expression with the click of a button.
Something similar is at work in the DIY space. Since 2011 Google indexed searches for "DIY" have been increasing significantly. Now companies are springing up (like "For the Makers") that sell easy-to-follow DIY kits.
As the Internet is integrated into more products, 2013 will see a tipping point in the web becoming invisible. We'll no longer be aware of "going online" to do all the things we do, and the idea of "digital" technology will become increasingly redundant.
Americans feel less connected to "the Internet." In 2012, 47 percent agreed, "I would feel disconnected without the Internet," down from 54 percent in 2010, according to GfK. However, time spent online has increased from an average 155 minutes per day in 2010 to 173 minutes in 2012, according to eMarketer.
What's going on here? As the web is increasingly integrated into our devices, we're less aware of "going onto the Internet" to access sites like Facebook. We're just using Facebook.The web is disappearing.
Fueling this further in 2013 will be the growth of web-enabled Smart TVs and the launch of a number of new, smaller web-enabled devices. Google Glass will launch to developers this year; the Pebble smart watch will finally ship; and so will Muse, the brainwave-sensing headband that allows you to control your devices.
In 2013 we'll see significant growth in moments to shop fueled by technology – from the rise of "television commerce" to "social media commerce" and the maturation of "mobile commerce."
For example, this year American Express will fully roll out its television commercial initiative, enabling consumers to purchase products seen on TV shows via the web or an iPad app.
Also this year, Facebook is expected to roll out "want" or "collect" buttons on images to rival Pinterest, after testing in 2012.
Banks will start to play fully in the mobile wallet/payments space, offering apps that replace consumers' wallets and competing with services like Google Wallet.
The recent obsession with fact-checking will grow further in 2013, with citizens, journalists and the competition playing the "Google game" to call out brands, politicians, and everyone else.
Jonah Lehrer, Fareed Zakaria, and 125 Harvard undergrads … were all busted for plagiarism in 2012. Given the pressure for producing content in a fast-moving world, the ease of accessing info online, and the decrease in fact-checkers at publications themselves, we expect to see more cases of copying in 2013.
At the same time, 2012 was the fact-check election, with every speech, comment and statistic scrutinized by professional organizations and citizens alike. According to Pew Research, 64 percent of persuadable voters used the Internet to fact-check political candidates.
With the economy still driving Americans' concerns, in 2012 climate change wasn't a major issue. In 2013, it will likely rise to one of the top of concerns for everyone.
In 2013, scientists are expecting more climate change events. For example, a combination of El Nino and global warming is leading some forecasters to predict that 2013 will see record-breaking global temperatures.
This year may also bring a decline in Americans' economic concerns, as the economy grows more robustly. With the economy less important, climate change concerns will return to pre-recession levels.
The media narrative is also building. This year may see a noticeable jump in stories and documentaries about the weather. For example, Showtime if lining up a high-profile documentary series ( "Years of Living Dangerously") made by, and starring, A-list celebrities.