Tuesday, August 9, 2011

"Caving In" and Seven Sub-Trends for the Middle Class

In the process of writing a post about demographic trends among seniors, I came across this article that appeared in Psychology Today about a year ago. The writer describes "The Villages," a middle-of-nowhere place in Florida that now houses some 80,000 baby-boomer escapists who have left everything behind: children, traffic, government interference, taxes, and noise.

What the article doesn't say is that, in a harsher reality, these runaway grey panthers are actually trying to hang on to what they've got (and think they are about to lose) in a crashing economy. In short, these folks have "caved in."

I think there's a clue in here for the psychology of the middle class in the post-housing/debt ceiling fiasco. "Caving In" means playing it safe, controlling your environment, keeping what you have, hunkering down, being watchful, and "holding it close." "Caving in" incorporates seven lifestyle sub-trends that also reflect new economic realities.

1. Trend To the Familiar
Family, Family, Family
Community Support Systems
Family Live-Togethers

2. Trend To Cheap
Rent the Runway et al

3. Trend To Unplanned, Close-by, and Contained
Parks and Free Events
Road Trips
Spontaneous community events
Local, Local, Local

4. Trend Away from Technology
Art and Design

5. Trend to Animals
Pets as Companions and Family Members
Animal Charities
Vegetarian lifestyles

6. Trend to Social Anonymity
What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas
Cruise Ships

7. Trend to Distrust
Angie's List
Customer Reviews (Yelp)
Facebook and Friend Referrals

There is, of course, a counterpoint to "caving in." That would be "busting out." For more about that, check out this great post on the London riots.

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