Have you ever seen some strange little dooodad and thought to yourself: 'Am I crazy, or is that stupid?' Or maybe you've heard some unfamiliar music coming from your teen-ager's room and said, 'That's too weird.'
You might be crazy, and the music probably is weird - but pay attention anyway. You may have spotted a trend, according to Faith Popcorn, author and expert at spotting trends that affect life-styles and buying habits.
The animated Popcorn shared her predictions at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention.
'All I do is read everyday life and pick up indicators to the future,' said Popcorn, founder of BrainReserve in New York. Popcorn picked up clues in the early 1980s that indicated consumers wanted to spend more time at home. She named it cocooning.
'Trends are simply a way of understanding how consumers will behave in the future,' she said.
Popcorn told dealers they can double their business during the next five years if they do one thing for their female customers: Create relationships with them.
Women make good customers, she said. Collectively they own 8 million businesses, are responsible for $2.3 trillion in goods and services, own 53 percent of all stocks and influence 90 percent of all vehicle purchases.
'Is that big enough for you? Is that enough money for you?' she asked.
Popcorn said cocooning is still a trend, but it has changed a bit.
She said the popularity of Martha Stewart reflects that change. 'It is homemaker voyeurism; you don't want to do it, but you do want to watch,' she said.
Popcorn said consumers still want to shop, but they want to do it from home via the Internet or QVC, a home shopping TV network.
She said savvy marketers such as Barnes & Noble get cocooners out of the house by offering them a warm, cozy shopping atmosphere that includes coffee bars and plush sofas.
Auto marketers should take heed, she said. 'How warm and cozy do you make people feel when they come into your showroom with two kids?'