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Trends To Watch For In 2002 -- Are You Ready for the 'Armored Cocoon'?

27 Dec, 2001 By: Holly J. Wagner

Just when we thought things might be getting back to normal, or at least that we were getting used to the new paradigms of our post-Sept. 11 lives, futurist and marketing analyst Faith Popcorn – who's credited with coining the term cocooning in the 1980s -- has some news for us in her predictions for 2002: Get ready for the "armored cocoon."

The recent trend toward "cocooning" -- feathering our nests instead of venturing out to meet new experiences – isn't entirely about fear in the wake of terrorist attacks, Popcorn says. Rather, it is isolationist entertainment that will keep us snug in our homes.

"Consumers need constant entertainment from every device, including computers, DVDs, PDAs, cell phones and Global Positioning Systems," she says, "whether they in the car, on the street or in the elevator."

Enter the armored cocoon, which Popcorn defines as "A safe and secure filtered environment, (with) top notch security systems, filtered air, filtered water and anything else that makes a consumer feel protected from the dangers of the outside world." The phenomenon has been in progress for some time, she says, because of our "need to protect oneself from the harsh, unpredictable realities of the outside world."

But the armored cocoon isn't all bad news. It's a lot like turning a home into the same kind of controlled environment as our cars. In the new world, entertainment is the new opiate of the masses. "24-tainment." That, she says " entertainment as a drug."

"The armored Cocoon is changing our neighborhoods and homes," Popcorn says, citing as evidence a few statistics:

* Home theaters are installed in some 16.6 million homes.

* QVC counts 5 million couch shoppers; HSN sends out 62,000 packages per day.

* Gated communities house 4 million Americans.

* Private security is a $104 billion market.

* Home improvement is a $143 billion business.

* New surveys show that only 17 percent of workers want that corner office; a clear majority would prefer to work in a home office. Further, the number of U.S. at-home workers is up 100 percent in the last five years, for a total of 10.1 million. In 20 years, one in seven workers will be a full-time telecommuter.

Look at it this way: if her predictions come true, that's great news for the packaged media industry. Bring on the "24-tainment!"

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