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UK Insights

2013: Putting stock in scarcity

J. Walker Smith

Executive Chairman

Consumer Green 29.11.2012 / 00:00


Look at what’s disappearing to see what people will start to care about the most

The principle is simple: People put more stock in what's scarce. The rarer the stone, the higher the price. The more limited the edition, the greater the status. The harder to get, the more the value. No surprise, then, that pop-up retail first appeared during the heyday of over-abundance in the early 2000s. With so much to be had at the time, the only way to sustain value was to reinvent and then reintroduce scarcity.

But nowadays scarcity doesn't need to be invented. An era of limits and declines is at hand, so scarcity will be a characteristic feature of the marketplace in 2013. Rare things will be well at hand, with value attached.

Much of the coming scarcity will be in the natural world. Frogs and other amphibians have been in decline for many decades, but the rate of decline has triggered many alarms lately. Some scientists have called it "terrifying." Frogs feature prominently in popular culture, so as their numbers wither, their following will increase, especially as a symbol of other environmental threats.

Much of the coming scarcity will be in the social world. Technologies of all sorts are commanding more of our time, focus and mental energy, thus creating a competition and trade referred to as the "attention economy." Researchers at the Global Information Industry Center at the University of California at San Diego estimated that in 2008 the average American consumed a torrent of 33.8 gigabytes of information each day, up from 9.8 in 1980. As content providers of all sorts, marketers especially, compete for people's attention, costs are sure to rise.

Much of the coming scarcity will be the result of hitting limits. Shortages of many sorts are forecasted, but perhaps the most worrisome is water. Even with an overflow of everything else, nothing can survive without water. Many things contribute to water scarcity - poor infrastructure, depletion of natural reserves, climate change, etc. Nearly 3 billion people are projected to live in water stressed areas by 2025. This will make it imperative for brands, at a minimum, to practice water conservation or face a loss of goodwill with negative economic consequences. But good water practices will also offer smart brands a point of difference to enhance value.

To read more 2013 planning horizons check out the related stories below, or visit The Futures Company website.

Source : The Futures Company

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