Will we ever leave home again?
When I was president of a Trend-based marketing firm, it was a professional requirement (and occupational hazard) that I needed some provocative, ideally scintillating questions to pose at social events. The cocktail party moment. The query I used was as follows:
When we can digitize ourselves and send ourselves through the phone lines, how many people will have to do it before you’ll dial yourself from New York to Los Angeles?
The best answer I ever got was “One person I know.” So, I stopped asking that one.
The question I probe with now is this one:
When we live and work in the same place, Amazon delivers everything, everywhere and we never have to leave home for any reason, for what will we emerge?
My cue for the best answer thus far was from Howard Schultz when he explained why Starbucks is such a continuing global phenomenon. It was something along the lines of, “People always say it’s to socialize, but we have the security tapes from every store: Nobody ever talks to anyone other than the barista or whomever they came in with. It’s more to share the same space with strangers who share the same affection for something, in our case, coffee.”
Hypothesis: We’ll leave home for leisure activities we can see other people also enjoy, but for which we don’t have to talk to anyone we don’t know.
With that criteria in mind, I’d say movies, restaurants and bowling alleys (golf, tennis, etc. too) will emerge victorious. Starbucks and its clones.
Retail? Not so much. Perhaps only to shop with friends, triangulating through the merchandise to learn more about ‘the other,’ as in ‘you like that? Wow!’ Or for totally bespoke experiences: a goat cheese only available for three days a year, in one small shop on 53rd Street.
So grab a cocktail and let me know your answer.