The Chinese people — and all those who believe in the Chinese horoscope — will celebrate the beginning of the Year of the Rat on Chinese New Year’s Day this Feb. 7.
They say it’s going to be a year of conflicts and challenges for the entire world.
But for those in the West – and for all other people hooked up with the West – not much thought is being given to 2008 being the Year of the Rat since it’s really the Year of Getting Real.
According to Marco della Cava of USA TODAY, a select group of marketers, activists and cultural anthropologists have predicted seven major changes in 2008.
They said 2008 – a leap year with a February 29 or 366 days — will be all about avoiding artifice and embracing the tangible and practical.
Here are the seven changes they foresee in 2008:
(1) Social networking 2.0
Social networks like MySpace and Facebook have so far focused only on kids connecting with kids. But the coming year will see an expansion of social networking to include even the kids’ moms and dads, and their other adult relatives.
“In the 1950s, multiple generations lived if not with each other then certainly in the same town. Today, that model is dead, and sites like Facebook are essentially a replacement for that nuclear family,” says Peter Sealey, a longtime tech-industry marketing adviser and founder of The Sausalito Group.
“Adults will turn to these sites to ask three questions of their loved ones: How are you? Where are you? And what are you doing?” he says. “The conversation on these social networking sites will flow between kids, parents and seniors.”
Sealey says the increasing pace of everyday life makes the once simple act of picking up a phone to see what book a friend has read seem time-consuming.
“With social networking sites, you can tell friends what movie you’ve just seen or find out that your mother is going to be playing bridge for the day, seamlessly and efficiently,” he says. “As the Wi-Fi network grows nationally, this is the way we’ll stay in touch.”
(2) Expert central
The Internet has become a part of many people’s lives, but its continuing expansion is causing an exponential rise in the troubles that Web-linked people face.
In 2008, companies that help people swim across a sea of information and misinformation in the Internet will become trusted friends, says Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst with Port Washington, N.Y.-based market research giant The NPD Group.
“This new year will be all about simplification,” Cohen says. “We’ll be looking for help in eliminating clutter in our lives, and that means looking for names and brands that we trust. In a way, it’s like going back in time.”
He says that means companies with brick-and-mortar locations will fare better wooing customers than Web-only outfits. Cohen also suspects that blogging and other amateur online efforts will wane. “The average person may well be shouting ‘I want a say,’ but that’s created an absence of legitimacy on the Web,” Cohen says.
What consumers will value most isn’t innovation but expertise. “We’ll listen to those we deem worth listening to, because we’re tired of all the noise out there,” he says. “Maybe it’ll be Oprah, or maybe it’s Consumer Reports, but we’re going to stick with those brands that offer reliable information. In that sense, bigger will be better.”
(To be continued tomorrow)