noun, [ˈkæʃɪŋ] [aʊt]
1: Working women and men, questioning personal/career satisfaction and goals, opt for simpler living.
2: One of 17 known cultural and societal undercurrents, first identified by Faith Popcorn, whose shifting dimensions reflect the human experience as it evolves to define future consumer behavior.
“I’m sick of the rat race,” was the comment that Faith Popcorn and her team at Faith Popcorn’s BrainReserve began hearing in the early 80s. People began wishing for simpler, less stressed times – and more importantly, began reshaping their lives to achieve that. For some, the idea of a sabbatical took shape; for others, leaving the city and opening a B&B in the country was the aspiration du jour. The idea of work-life balance blossomed over the next decade, with, for example, Susan Molinari and Bill Paxon (both in the U.S. House Representatives) resigned to devote time to family; Patty Stonesifer: former lead of Microsoft’s interactive division left that high-pressure position for a more temperate pace as president of the Gates Library Foundation; and Sergio Zyman, marketing guru for Coke, left to spend more time with those closest to him.
Companies began wrestling with how to keep employees happy in their demanding jobs; products began to pepper the marketplace with inviting names like “Country Times” and “Almost Home” that gave people breathing room; Oprah’s empire kicked into high gear, offering her enormous audience the promise of a fully actual inner life, rather than a materialistic yuppie lifestyle. A cultural current that was all about living off the “fast-track” grid—about slowing down and savoring a calmer life began to grow.
Faith Popcorn’s BrainReserve has made Cashing Out the foundation of several mega-successful brand reinventions. For instance, in one case, a legacy beverage had been identifying itself as the fuel people needed to get through their busy days. The team reinvented the brand personality to show that the drink enhanced human connections, away from the stresses of modern work life.
This Trend is rising in the culture, as we see brilliant executives, like PepsiCo’s Indra Nooyi, leave their perches to join intriguing boards and spend more time with their fabulous children.
This current has also taken an intriguing turn as it embeds itself ever more deeply. The idea of achieving a more Zen, Cashed Out state is becoming woven into our culture, as yoga is a $10 billion industry in America and meditation has become a $1 billion business, thanks in part to corporations like Ford and American Express offering mindfulness seminars for their employees. As ever more connected consumers strive for some piece of mind, they must also decide how to live to find that sense of calm. Urbanization is a key future direction, with over two-thirds of the planet’s population projected to live in cities by 2050. Can one “Cash Out” while surrounded by others? The opportunity to do so will be one for companies to claim, whether through home design, products or services.
There is also evidence that many consumers – Millennials, specifically – may head to less populous areas. By 2025, the population of exurbs may exceed those in urban centers for the first time. Developers will have to envision these exurbs as semi-self-contained communities not reliant on nearby cities. As the Gig Economy matures, and the Automation and Atomization of Work take root, a new lifestyle surges. With less work for humans and Universal Basic Income becoming the usual, many will truly cash out and adopt a lifestyle away from the usual 9-to-5 strictures and will need an array of specially tailored goods. Remote Year, for instance, offers year-long nomadic living arrangements—a different country for every month, with accommodations, Wi-Fi, some meals and local experiences pre-planned. Coboat allows you to travel and work if you like while navigating the high seas (yes, it’s a co-living boat). Gap-year options for students and adults abound, with opportunities to explore and protect the environment – say, saving the whales or the elephants – becoming immensely popular.
And for those who choose a nomadic existence, moving from co-living space to co-living space, or who seek shelter in one of the upscale survivalist bunkers, a new mindset and lifestyle will demand innovation to satisfy their needs. Imagine, in an era of complex resource shortages and ultra-high stress, how familiar foods and furnishings will bring solace to a person living far from the standard cities and suburbs. And how the growing cannabis boom will evoke a pleasingly “Cashed Out,” countercultural vibe for many. (Fully legal, laid-back marijuana will find places, spaces and brands welcoming it into the Cashing Out lifestyle, as people flock to its powers to relax and restore their spirits.) Consumers will shed their responsibilities in what Faith calls the M-squared effect – no more marriage, no more mortgage.
Perhaps AR and VR will be where we find solace as unreal Cashing Out rises – offering another immense avenue to be explored.
Cashing Out often dovetails with Anchoring, our Trend that describes a search for meaning through tradition and spirituality. Both underscore the deep yearning for simplicity and “easier times,” and both tend to intensify as the rate of societal and technological change speed up.
Cashing Out also partners with Down-Aging – the “feel like a kid again” Trend which describes another route consumers take to feel stress-free.
Tomorrow’s trends, Today