Forget about which computermaker or soft-drink giant will triumph over its rivals. Marian Salzman likes to talk about much broader consumer issues. As worldwide director of the ad agency Young & Rubicam's Brand Futures Group, Ms. Salzman oversees 2,500 trend "scouts" around the world. She's also co-author of the new book "Next: Trends for the Near Future" (Overlook).
The Monitor's Clayton Collins asked Salzman for a snapshot of the shifting landscape that she surveys.
"As the world gets smaller, we won't just become more globally aware, we'll also become increasingly focused on the 'hyperlocal' places and communities in our lives.
"Achieving a balance between global and hyperlocal - call it going 'glocal' - will be of increasing importance to people and brands. Hyperlocal ties will help us to partition the world into manageable chunks. We might not be able to deal with the implications of the single European currency - but we can create a budget for our local scout troop.
"This balancing act will present a challenge for global brands, which will have to become hyperlocal to attract and retain consumers. The trick for them will lie in providing messages that balance universal appeal with sufficient localization to attract consumers in each market.
"As the world continues to change, anxiety in some quarters will lead to calls for a 'return to yesteryear.' This will be reflected in marketing strategies worldwide ... particularly in those European nations that feel they're somehow losing their sense of identity as the 'United States of Europe' becomes a reality.
"Expect to see the birth of an international neo-Luddite movement, led by those who would rid local schools of new technologies and return to more traditional means of learning. Many of those 'reformers' will ... revert to curricula that promote a sense of national pride rather than global awareness.
"Yet ... geography will become less important than shared attitudes, beliefs, and experiences. The Internet ensures that ... we have a good chance of connecting with 'virtual neighbors' who'll support and sustain our views and values."
(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society