Ten Trends for 2008
For the last few years, we’ve compiled year-end lists of trends to watch for. Looking back over our predictions, it’s clear that trends with real significance can’t be assigned to just one calendar year. The trends explored here, which we believe have real weight and momentum, are shifts that are likely to be with us for a long time.
Technology continues to be a common thread among many of the trends we’re highlighting. It drives the serendipitous randomness that throws up chance connections, groundbreaking discoveries and great business ideas. It gives new meaning to the words “instant” and “transparent,” and enables sharing like never before. Technology also seeks to control the harm that can result from or be hidden in huge and complex interactions (think tech-fueled medical advances)—and it is pushing some levelheaded investors to abandon pragmatism.
Demography is also a recurring theme. Beyond just the highly visible numbers—low birthrates and longer life expectancies, resulting in long-term aging populations—the patterns are becoming a lot more fragmented, with currents pulling in various directions. Benchmarking assumptions are being rendered moot.
Finally, in our current eco-friendly world, a trends forecast wouldn’t be complete without citing the next big shift relating to the environment. Hint: It ain’t green.
Rethinking “Instant Gratification”
With high-powered mobile connectivity, the old pitch line “Why wait?!” is being taken from hucksterism to science fiction. Technology is racing to meet people’s desire for instant gratification and the growing expectation that they will get it. Already people can get ahold of hit books, music and TV shows, along with back catalogues of classic movies, music and niche products, pretty much whenever they want to online. The same applies to a multitude of products from vacuum cleaners to medication to cars. Things in digital form (data, music, movies) come as fast as they can download; physical items can arrive as soon as the next day.
Over the next decade, virtually everything that’s ever been made will be available in this way. And as interactive technology inevitably moves toward unwired mobility (think WiFi, mobile phones), location will be no barrier to getting what we want whenever and wherever we want it. Call it “Instant Getification,” a phrase coined by search engine Ask.com in recent TV commercials.
At the same time, products and brands once deemed unique have become commoditized. Take fast fashion. Stylish clothing is readily accessible almost everywhere, with high-end designers such as Vera Wang and Roberto Cavalli selling versions of their wares at mass retailers. Many consumers are now quick to clean out their closets every season to make way for new belts and handbags from Target, trendy outfits from H&M and staples from Wal-Mart.
As a counter to these trends, shopping trips that were once casual outings are becoming focused expeditions for pieces that can be considered an investment rather than an indulgence. In his November column, Vogue’s Mark Holgate notes that the disposable nature of today’s fashion has led to an interesting development: “A growing number of women … have gladly gotten off the shopping merry-go-round of Always Something New and prefer to live with what they have unless something truly extraordinary and/or useful crosses their path.”
“Custom-made” and “one-of-a-kind” are rising above the mass-produced din of “now.” And marketers are asking for commitment from consumers who’ve become accustomed to flitting from one product to another for quick fixes. Indeed, Hyundai’s latest commercial blatantly asks viewers, “Whatever happened to commitment? Standing by your decisions?”
The instantly obtainable nature of almost everything is leading to a premiumization of brands that require more than a quick trip or a click of a mouse to attain and those that offer long-term versus short-term solutions. After all, there’s something to be said for delayed gratification: Everyone likes the thrill of the chase, even when it comes to products and services. Without a chase, is it really all that desirable?
In a wired world where massive amounts of data are stored in digital form, practically any information one may want resides on a server somewhere; you can never be sure that hackers, crackers and security specialists don’t know how to access it. The quid pro quo of always-on connectivity is that any electronic communication can be monitored, and movement can be tracked through ISP nodes and cell phones. And in a world of intense media scrutiny where determined diggers can often unearth even the most guarded information, it may well be wise to operate on the assumption that no secret can ever be safe.
The result is a growing acceptance of living life in the open—and in fact many are actively embracing this concept. As conspicuous consumption in the developed world decreases, conspicuous living is at an all time high, with people clamoring to show and tell all, no matter how personal.
Fess up! Flaunt it! Having grown up with celebrity culture, reality TV, the Internet and anti-terrorism security, younger generations take lack of privacy for granted. Unlike their elders, who are generally wary of handing over personal information and sharing personal details, they have few qualms about opening up their lives. It’s the new generation gap, a divide between those who relish privacy and those who feel they have nothing to hide.
While many a confessional blog and compromising photo may be posted in naiveté, over the coming decade, “nothing to hide” will be the norm. Desensitization has set in as people flock to YouTube, Facebook and other consumer-created-content sites to watch everything from the embarrassing (a beauty queen’s inane answer to a simple question) to the prurient (pictures of half-naked drunken college girls) to the chilling (the Finland school shooter foreshadowing his massacre on video). All of this laundry-airing is raising our shock-and-awe thresholds. Why be cautious about exposure when there’s fun and kudos to be had from sharing personal peccadilloes?
Still, a spate of remorse over radical transparency will likely hit as online exhibitionists prepare to enter higher education or the workforce. With admissions offices and HR departments increasingly using the Web to vet prospective candidates—two-thirds of companies readily admit to keeping tabs on employees by checking social networking sites, according to U.K. recruitment agency Poolio—a good chunk of the incriminating material whirling around the cybersphere will be expunged. MySpace pages will be cleaned up. Facebook suicides will be committed (at least temporarily). YouTube videos will go dark. And companies like Reputation Defender, which promises to search out and destroy all inaccurate, inappropriate, hurtful and slanderous information on its clients, will cash in.
Across the developed world, people are living longer than ever, thanks to greater health awareness and advances in medical science. That’s not to say that older generations are leading disease-free lives. But pills and procedures (often non-invasive) are allowing more people to live with chronic ailments and survive surgeries that have historically killed patients at a younger age. And in many cases, they’re able to sustain a fairly comfortable quality of life.
One well-known example of someone who has managed to remain relatively healthy despite a debilitating disease is Earvin “Magic” Johnson. When he was diagnosed with HIV in 1991, it was assumed he would not live long. But Magic has been serving as an apparently robust spokesman for a GlaxoSmithKline HIV drug, one of the medications that’s helped him escape his death sentence. Michael J. Fox, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, is another high-profile figure able to live a relatively full life despite battling a chronic disease.
Beyond allowing more people to live with disease, medical science is increasingly able to help prevent disease altogether. Doctors are using advanced technologies such as genetic testing to determine whether patients have a propensity for specific illnesses and recommending sometimes radical prevention measures (a double mastectomy, for example) to those at high risk.
Drug companies are developing more vaccines or new medical approaches that can eradicate or diminish the likelihood of disease. Merck’s new HPV vaccine, for example, lowers the risk of cervical cancer in women. And cholesterol-lowering statins are helping people avoid some of the ailments of old age. In the U.K., the national director for heart disease and stroke has advocated a “blanket approach” to statins, arguing that giving everyone above a certain age a daily dose would save lives, National Health Service costs and doctors’ time. The policy would recommend statins for all men over 50 and women over 60. (Final guidance from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence is expected in January.)
Advances continue to be made on the genetic testing front, and within the past year scientists have isolated genetic variations that are strongly linked to coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and several mental disorders. The hope is that these technologies will allow more people to focus on preventive medicine early on, armed with strategies against the diseases to which they are most susceptible.
As the price of DNA-sequencing technology falls, genetic testing could soon become a mass-market product. According to The Economist, experts hope to bring the cost of sequencing genomes from $1 million to a relatively affordable $1,000 within the next five years. The market has indicated its interest: Last summer Roche pharmaceuticals bought the gene-sequencing firm 454 Life Sciences, and Google acquired a stake in genetics startup 23andMe.
In the next few years, watch for commercials on genetic testing to crop up alongside pharmaceutical ads. And as more genetic links are determined for common diseases, watch for genetic testing to become a routine component of medical treatment.
Blue Is the New Green
From the 1980s onward, green has symbolized the embrace of jungles and wetlands and owls and dolphins as well as people. But even green has started to feel too limited. It’s now a subset of blue, which is coming to denote the much larger emerging new spirit of good-citizen ethics.
Environmentally, blue (denoting water) is becoming as big an issue as green (forests). The era of apparently limitless clean water supplies is ending. All over the world groundwater aquifers are getting depleted or becoming salinated. Rivers are facing overexploitation, pollution and silting. Oil spills, floating garbage, industrial pollution and algae blooms are impacting seas everywhere.
A recent report from the International Water Management Institute says that if today’s food production and environmental trends continue, water crises are likely to crop up in many parts of the world. Craig Donohue, chief executive of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, predicts that water could become a commodity on futures exchanges in much the same way as carbon emissions are traded today.
As it stands, hundreds of millions in the developing world have no clean water. Soon millions more in the developed world won’t be able to take clean water for granted either. Water management and conservation will rise up the agendas of governments and corporations around the world.
Water just might become the next oil. Yet there’s one key difference between the two precious commodities: While there are some alternatives to oil, there’s no alternative to water.
Beyond the water crisis, “blue” is becoming more prevalent in our consciousness. Take nature documentaries, the consumer agenda-setters of environmentalism. One of the first notable natural history series of the 21st century was The Blue Planet, produced by the BBC in conjunction with the Discovery Channel. It explored the oceans, which cover two-thirds of the planet, and put the notion of “environment” into a broad context for viewers. It played to audiences that were becoming increasingly familiar with satellite images of weather systems sweeping in from the blue of the seas.
Then in August 2005, the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in the United States got more people thinking about the environment on a big scale. Politicians and programmers started taking a serious interest in far-off glaciers and ice sheets, and the media was filled with images of blue-white ice framed by clear blue skies and icy blue sea.
Climate change has quickly become the driver of environmentalism 2.0, and consumers all over the world understand that climate is all about the seas and the sky—both blue. Environmentalism 2.0 is already a much bigger political and consumer issue than the 1.0 version, which was largely about issues such as deforestation, the ozone layer, pollution and biodiversity. And in some ways it is more immediate: While many people have never seen a rainforest, water is everywhere and conservation is more immediately actionable.
Almost unconsciously it seems, organizations and tastemakers have been tuning in to the shift from green to blue. Mercedes-Benz has patented its latest emissions-reducing technology for diesel as “Bluetec.” In the U.K., environmental specialists are favoring blue graphics and terminology, such as Level Blue Limited, a sustainability and environmental management services provider. In France, the “Pavillon Bleu” (blue flag) is awarded to towns and pleasure ports that meet all-around environmental standards, and the Blue Plan is a French-based project working toward a sustainable future for the Mediterranean.
Somehow, “blue” terminology and graphics suggest environmental responsibility in a more contemporary and credible way than “green.” It’s as if “green” became too strongly associated with “tree huggers” and the “beards and sandals” ethos of earlier environmentalism and with brands going through the motions of environmentalism (greenwashing). Now corporations embracing environmentalism can adopt “blue” without looking as though they’re jumping on the green bandwagon.
The World Is Local
Security measures, high gas prices and the sheer number of people traveling are making business and leisure travel a lot less quick and convenient than it was even a decade ago. At the same time, high-powered interactive media can help you find whatever you need right in your own corner of the world. These are two key factors helping to tip the balance of interest away from “somewhere else” and toward “where I am now.” Global is shifting to local.
It’s become a lot easier for people to meet their needs locally, thanks to cell phones, cheap online advertising, location-based technologies and sites such as Google and Craigslist. Anyone with an Internet connection no longer has to rely on the hit-or-miss search methods of asking friends or looking in the Yellow Pages. It’s also a lot easier now for local businesses and services to advertise. (This has made local search on Google and other sites a major growth area. Businesses don’t even need a Web site to get on the radar of local customers—they can just provide their information to engines like Google.) With global companies no longer holding a monopoly on mass communication, more people are looking to conduct commerce locally.
Local products and services are also becoming more desirable. For one, an ever growing number of global brands are stuck onto products made somewhere else and sold everywhere, whether it’s lattes, pizza, hip-hop or any of the thousands of commodities you can find wherever you go. And the more ubiquitous and common these commodities become, the more incentive there is to seek out and savor what’s distinctively local.
In the food industry, locally sourced products are seen as being healthier and more environmentally friendly. More consumers are buying local meat, dairy and produce in a conscious effort to support local farmers and producers, eat fresher food and help to reduce carbon emissions.
Local is also seen as safer. In the U.S., the crisis over unsafe Chinese imports demonstrated how the inclination toward “local” (whether that means locally sourced goods or locally owned businesses) is fundamentally a backlash against globalization. It will be interesting to see which industries, domestic or otherwise, benefit from the scares over pet food and toys. Already businesses that are more local than global are seeing an uptick. Specialty toy retailers, for instance, are benefiting as consumers start to worry about lead paint and other safety issues.
Consumers want to be part of the wide world, but they want individuality too. Even if a unique product is not sourced locally, it will attract consumers who appreciate its local provenance and authenticity. Expect to see truly local experiences become more prized for their specificity. For tourists especially, places with a unique identity will be increasingly popular. And we’ll all become more appreciative—and protective—of the flavors that are unique to our particular environs.
The Personal CPM
Individualistic consumers are looking for greater personal relevance in the media they consume. They want information and services that pertain both to their geographical location and to where they’re at in their lives. It’s hard for centralized services to do that, especially advertising. Even context-driven or collaboratively filtered services like Google’s sponsored links and Amazon’s recommendations don’t feel personal, even though they are personalized.
“Personal” takes a real person. Marketers have always known that personal recommendations are the most powerful form of brand advocacy. And thanks to interactive technologies, personal recommendations are no longer limited by physical constraints; consumers can forge wide networks of kindred spirits and virtual friends. As more and more people participate in these networks, they will come to rival traditional media-born advertising in terms of influence.
Watch for millions of influential individuals to develop their equivalent of a personal CPM rate card. A personal CPM assumes that people are their own media properties and, as such, should be applied some worth by the brands they advocate. The larger and more influential their social networks, the more valuable these individuals are and the higher the CPM they will be able to command. But as their influence grows, they will need to remain truly objective—consumers are too savvy to trust those who recommend the brands that pay them the most.
Facebook is now amplifying this trend via a new advertising plan introduced in November. The social networking site is combining user recommendations with hyper-targeted advertising for what it calls SocialAds. As an Advertising Age article describes it, “Under the system, actions users take when they’re not on Facebook, such as renting movies on Blockbuster.com or selling products on eBay, can be broadcast to their Facebook friends. Brands also can create Facebook pages users can interact with, and those interactions are relayed to their networks.”
Group M Interaction CEO Rob Norman told Ad Age: “The more you enable person-to-person communication, the more opportunities there are for individuals to influence each other. This phenomenon already existed; [Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg] just poured gas on the fire.”
Birth rates, death rates, life expectancy and gender ratios will remain the mainstays of demography, but long-held benchmarking assumptions are fast becoming irrelevant. Policymakers and marketers can no longer look at a set of age cohorts and come to meaningful conclusions about life stage.
As life expectancy increases, marriage as a lifelong commitment will be a different proposition in 2010 than it was in 1960. Will it be smarter to marry in your 20s, hoping for the best but leaving room for another shot at marriage in your 30s? Or will it make more sense to focus on building career and friendships in your 20s, playing the field until your 30s with the risk that marriage still won’t work out the first time?
What about kids? Is it wiser to have them when you’re young and vigorous but barely out of early adulthood yourself? Or live it up and then settle down in your 30s, 40s or beyond? Changing social conventions, medical science and the dynamics of divorce and remarriage make it reasonably likely that a person in his or her early 50s will have no children, be a first-time parent, a grandparent, a stepparent or both a grandparent and the parent of toddlers.
In the U.S., for example, birthrates for women 20-24 and 30-34 rose by less than 1 percent between 2004 and 2005 while rates for women 35-44 years old increased by 2 percent, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Older women in Europe are also having more children. Higher birthrates among older women in countries including France, Sweden and the U.K. have been “almost sufficient to compensate for the sharply reduced birthrates of younger women,” according to David Coleman, a demographer at Oxford University, as quoted in The Economist.
Retirement and old age are likewise being rethought. In the U.S., where 65 has traditionally been considered the routine retirement age, more senior citizens are now working full- or part-time well past that milestone. (Indeed, many of them are unlikely to regard themselves as senior citizens.) Some are even going back to school, fueling a growing continuing-education industry. In several European countries that are expecting labor shortages in the years to come, governments are offering incentives to those willing to keep working into their golden years.
Over the coming decade, the possible permutations of age, gender, marital status, family composition, work status and health status will become too complex for easy demographic pigeonholing to be useful or meaningful. Watch for marketers and others to focus on behavioral targeting and segmentation and stages rather than ages.
Queen Trumps King
One of the most important shifts shaping demography is the rising power of women. That’s not to say that persistent problems like unequal pay, domestic violence, rape, sex trafficking and the abortion of female fetuses in some countries will abate significantly anytime soon. But as women go further in education, hone their flair for today’s work styles and become choosier in the mating game, the balance is tipping in their favor.
Increasingly, women are starting to get a more fair share of opportunities, power and money. They’re taking greater control over their own fertility. And they’re challenging the privileges that have made it a man’s world.
Consider what’s happening on the political stage. While the trend for female political leaders has been long-established in some parts of the East (Pakistan's Benazir Bhutto and India's Indira Gandhi), other areas are fast catching up. Thirty-four of Forbes’ 100 Most Powerful Women of 2007 are in government; the top two spots are filled by Angela Merkel, the first woman to become chancellor of Germany, and Wu Yi, China’s vice premier. In recent years, Chile, South Korea, Liberia, Mozambique and Finland elected women as heads of state for the first time. And in 2008, Hillary Clinton stands a decent chance of achieving the same feat in the U.S.
There’s more: Last July, Pratibha Patil became India’s first female president. And Argentina elected its first female president in October. “A female president! Get used to it, all of you! A female. I know that you are used to men [as leaders], but now you will have to get used to women too,” Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner said upon her victory. The senator and first lady, who is taking the helm from her husband, outgoing President Nestor Kirchner, has drawn inevitable comparisons to former U.S. first lady Hillary Clinton, also a senator.
It won’t stop being a man’s world overnight, but over the coming decade, women will increasingly be shaping the world according to their needs. The prospect of the United States electing its first female president is a symptom of this trend, and a Clinton presidency could help to accelerate it.
It’s not only women in leadership roles—political and otherwise—who are driving this power shift. Women are gaining clout in other ways. In the U.S., some predict that single women will be the influential voting bloc that could swing the next presidential election—akin to evangelical Christians in the 2000 and 2004 elections. And pollster Mark J. Penn, chief strategist for Clinton’s campaign, theorizes that straight women outnumber straight men by a wide margin; this would mean there are many more unattached women than men, resulting in plenty of spare female time and energy to advance the cause of women.
Sharing has never been so hip. Thanks to rise of online social networking, people are sharing just about everything from carpooling duties to their living rooms. (Witness the Couch Surfing Project, an online community of people willing to open a couch up to travelers and show visitors around their city.)
Sharing costs is becoming an increasingly popular concept: Fractional ownership allows people to enjoy the benefits of ownership at a reduced price. It’s a concept that’s clearly right for big-ticket luxury items, and one of the first hot ideas in this realm was fractional aircraft ownership. Companies like NetJets offer the lure of private planes with no maintenance to worry about, no managing the pilot and ground crew; as one owner put it, “When you’re done with the plane, it just disappears.”
Outfits such as PartialOwner.com and Fractionallife.com extend the partial-ownership model to everything from homes and luxury cars to restaurants and racehorses. Likewise, art lovers can buy into syndicates such as ArtVest, based in Glasgow, Scotland, which offers partial ownership of artwork.
The concept can be extended into many areas of life, with plenty of scope further down the income ladder. For instance, women who want the use of designer accessories without the burden of designer prices can join Bag Borrow or Steal; a subscription allows members temporary use of a range of high-ticket items. Along the same lines, young women in Argentina and elsewhere are holding clothes-swapping parties in order to leverage the benefits of fashion purchases.
While the concept itself isn’t new (think timeshares or joint stock companies), the technology for pooling demand and resources is becoming increasingly sophisticated. And the appeal of fractional ownership is growing as the luxury category becomes more democratic and accessible to the masses. Over the coming decade, expect smart entrepreneurs to apply the idea to a wider variety of categories (exotic pets perhaps, or leisure equipment).
Stretching the Bubble: Reality Checks for U.S. and China
When an economic bubble pops, the repercussions can be felt the world over. When two bubbles pop, the world economy can easily head into a tailspin. If this is to be prevented, two global economic giants--the U.S. and China--will undergo much-needed reality checks in 2008.
In the U.S., Silicon Valley is flooded with young, eager Web entrepreneurs, venture capitalists are throwing seed money willy-nilly, and everyone is talking about the Internet. It feels like 1999, pre-dot-com crash.
As in the late ’90s, established companies, venture capitalists, angel investors and hedge funds are investing in technology upstarts that have aggregated audiences but little else in terms of monetary assets or sizable revenues. While most of these businesses have yet to break even, they are carrying the hopes and dreams of their investors and the fawning public.
Facebook is the current mascot for this trend. In October, Microsoft paid $240 million for a mere 1.6 percent stake in the social networking site, giving the company an implied value of $15 billion. Meanwhile, Facebook has predicted revenue of just $150 million for the year, chump change compared with Microsoft’s heavy pockets.
The other high flyers include YouTube, bought by Google in 2006 for $1.65 billion, and MySpace, purchased by News Corp. in 2005 for a “mere” $580 million. Both have yet to pay off in serious cash.
Even those burned by the first crash are getting in on the act. Netscape founder Marc Andreessen believes Web 2.0 will be different and has put millions of his own money—along with $44 million raised from Legg Mason, T. Rowe Price and CBS—toward his latest startup, Ning, which provides tools for setting up social networking sites.
Where is all this leading us? Our prediction is that the market will undergo a serious reality check. The wider economy, at least in the U.S., is souring thanks to the weak American dollar and the subprime mortgage debacle. And few of these startups are going public, which means they will be strapped for cash—there are only so many Googles and Microsofts out there to buy them up. Watch for companies and investors to become more cautious and take greater heed of eBay, which admitted that it paid a billion dollars too much for Skype.
China is also at risk of a bubble burst, one of a more traditional nature. The Chinese, who have been known for their strict savings practices, are now taking a gamble in the country’s growing stock and real estate markets. As of this writing, China’s CSI 300 stock index had surged 40 percent since May. The stock market even created the first $1 trillion company, albeit briefly, when PetroChina went public in November. After a day on the Shanghai stock market, the business almost tripled in value, from 16.7 yuan a share to 44 yuan.
Yi Gang, the Beijing head of the People’s Bank of China, aptly described the fervor as an opening of Pandora’s box—while the euphoria over economic growth has been uplifting for the country, it has also put China in danger of asset overvaluation and economic instability. Seasoned analysts and business leaders, including Alan Greenspan and Asian business leader Li Ka-shing, are warning of a pending crash and making comparisons to Japan, whose economy saw a similarly giddy expansion in the late 1980s.
As Chinese equity valuations reach their stretching points, watch for its institutions to undergo their own reality checks.
Whatever Happened To … ?
How about the trends we predicted for 2007? Did the future become the present?
One shift we pinpointed was the Old World increasingly taking on new-world habits. “It now appears that when it comes to obesity and smoking, Europeans aren’t all that different from Americans—they’re just a few years behind the curve,” we said. Indeed, there’s no doubt that a time traveler from 20 years ago might land in Europe and initially assume he was in the U.S., noting a preponderance of overweight people, fast food chains and smoking bans.
We noted that in 2007 and the years to come, we would be “entertaining ourselves.” We wrote, “We are no longer simply interacting with entertainment—rating it, talking back to it—we’re creating it. Technology is allowing more amateurs to express themselves at minimal expense or risk in formats that range from blogs to video clips to mash-ups.” While well-crafted TV shows and major sports events still attract mass attention, they’re up against an ever-expanding variety of user-created content. Web 2.0 is all about finding new and better ways of enabling users to entertain each other.
Another year-old observation: that “the generation gap has nearly closed, at least in the West, where medical and cosmetic advancements are redefining our ideas about age and aging.” The once-clear age-bound and taste-signaled markers of generations are dissolving steadily year by year, and marriage, parenthood and retirement are no longer predictable milestones on a path that marketers and demographers can reliably plot. This trend will be true for 2008 and into the near future, leading to our current observation that demography as we know it is dying.
“Truthiness” was the American Dialect Society’s 2005 word of the year, defined as “The quality of stating concepts or facts one wishes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true.” Last time around we predicted that “Pretty logos and slick packaging will become far less persuasive as consumers do more research and look harder for the facts. Watch for truthiness in branding to fall out of style while truth in advertising re-emerges.” In a world where consumers rapidly spread the word about product performance, the space for spin, hype and empty rhetoric continues to shrink. Ironically, just as it’s getting easier for celebrity wanna-bes to bluff their way through, it’s getting harder for products and brands.