Thanks to always-on wireless Internet connectivity and bigger, better TVs that reproduce pixel-perfect high-definition video, cocooning is entering a new evolutionary stage. Consumers are staying home more, watching movies delivered via cable, satellite, Internet or disc, eating in and transforming their apartments and houses into a shelter from the daily social storm.
This new level of super-cocooning is affecting Hollywood, professional sports and restaurants across the U.S. “Everybody is nervous, really nervous,” says trend forecaster Faith Popcorn, who coined the term “cocooning” in 1981. “I think we are looking for protection. Almost like the Jetsons, we want to walk around in a little bubble. We are moving toward that.”
Cocooning is not a new behavior. Born out of a mix of fear and fun, it became a trend identified with Cold War unease that led to stay-at-home entertainment such as the first home video game systems, rec rooms and the adoption of home swimming pools and trampolines.
After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, a refocus on cocooning occurred. Homeowners lined their nests with media rooms and remodeled kitchens meant for entertaining. And in the last 12 months, with the July 20 movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colo., and the Dec. 14 school shootings in Newtown, Conn., many have a heightened sense of unease. “We don’t feel too safe, and people are getting more and more nervous about being vulnerable,” Popcorn says. “Cocooning is going strong in 2013.”
An indication of super-cocooning comes from a recent JPMorgan Chase analysis of credit card spending. Consumers with Chase Freedom credit cards spent significantly more (65%) on electronics such as TVs and tablets during the last three months of 2012 than during the same period the year before, the firm found.
Overall, consumers spent 2% more during the fourth quarter of 2012 than a year before, but spent less on hotels (-21%), car rentals (-26%), restaurants (-16%) and tolls (-8%). “It does appear that consumers are staying closer to home,” says Phil Christian, general manager for Chase Freedom.
That trend is buttressed by the slowed growth in travel and tourism spending, from about 5% growth in the first three months of 2012 to 2.2% and 0.6% in the second and third quarters, reported by the Bureau of Economic Analysis in December.
On the plus side, movie theaters set a box office record of $10.8 billion in 2012. but overall attendance remained flat, according to Nielsen.
That’s in part because Hollywood is increasingly catering to consumers by getting films from theaters into homes more quickly via on-demand or pay-TV services. Among those who stay close to home, a subset of about 7% of U.S. homes with Internet access are inhabited by “heavy home entertainment cocooners,” says consulting and research firm Frank N. Magid Associates. They spend nearly $300 each month on pay TV, Internet service, video games, on-demand video, music, books, newspapers and magazines, says Magid.
These heavy cocooners are an affluent, racially diverse group: More than one-third (35%) make $75,000 or more annually. Whites make up 57%, Hispanics 22%, blacks 14% and Asians 7%, according to Magid. The firm conducted the nationally representative survey of 2,540 digital consumers in March 2012.
Even a large portion of digital consumers in the $35,000-$50,000 annual-income bracket identified themselves as heavy cocooners.
“The emerging cocoon of home entertainment is being led by a new, technologically sophisticated and more culturally diverse American consumer,” says Andrew Hare, senior analyst for Magid.
While pay-TV bills have risen about 6% annually, The NPD Group says, more homes are opting for higher-cost packages. About 23% of homes pay more than $100 monthly for cable-delivered pay TV, up from 19% in 2008, Magid found. Homes paying more than $100 for satellite pay-TV service rose to 14% from 10%.
But in other ways, the price of becoming a super-cocooner is falling. As the average price for an HDTV has plummeted, now about 88% of homes have one, according to the Consumer Electronics Association. And bigger TVs, those larger than 55 inches, cost on average $1,400, about 10% less than a year ago, The NPD Group says.
Consumers bought slightly more TVs last year than in 2011, with many upgrading to bigger displays, says NPD analyst Ben Arnold. “The move toward big screen is part of that (cocooning) story. You’ve got tons of content options. You’ve got TVs that connect directly to the Internet, so you don’t even have to get a DVD; you can call up Netflix or Amazon video services directly on your TV.”
There’s more HD content available, too, he says. “There are a lot of reasons to stay home and either watch movies or sports on TV. Picture quality has become better and better. Actually being able to see the event or see the game, one might argue that it’s a better experience than in person.”
Among recent TV buyers is Kornel Lelea of Hawthorne, Calif., who bought a new 70-inch Sharp HDTV before his annual Super Bowl party. Three other screens also had the game on, but the new set was the star attraction. “The technology is so much better. It has 3-D capability, the color saturation,” he says. “It is just beautiful.”
The 46-year-old L.A. housing inspector watches a lot of sports, movies, as well as the Discovery Channel. “With the (new) 70-inch now, it’s better than a movie theater,” he says.
And it’s safer, even for a guy who’s 6 foot, 2 inches. “I’m a big Dodgers fan, but the last time I was at a game someone was actually trying to get stupid with me,” he says. “I’m a fan, but I’m not going to lose my career or my life over a game, either, you know.”
Recent assaults at sports events have caught the attention of the public and fueled cocooning. A post-game stabbing occurred at the NFC Championship game in Atlanta last month. And in 2011, national attention was turned on Los Angeles after a San Francisco Giants fan was beaten at Dodger Stadium. The National Football League in 2008 enacted a Fan Code of Conduct; last season it toughened the rule by requiring fans kicked out of a stadium to take an online behavior-management course before returning.
While convenience, cost and quality of home theater were the biggest factors cited for staying at home, security was a concern for several others who responded to USA TODAY about the subject on Twitter and Facebook. “Why leave the comfort of my lazy boy (sic) when I can see/watch a HD football game?” wrote Nathan Tameling.
Said Dave Majewski of Columbus, Ohio, “It’s cheaper and more comfortable and safer.”
That is a growing consumer sentiment, says Tom Campbell of retailer Video & Audio Center in Los Angeles. He was surprised at the rate at which consumers began snapping up new $17,000, 84-inch Ultra HD televisions after LG Electronics began shipping them in late October.
“We called some of them back to ask, ‘Why did you buy it?’ We found out that with the ever-increasing violence at sports events people are becoming concerned about their safety,” said Campbell, who called several dozen customers. The three-store chain has sold more than 100 Ultra HD displays.
Other retailers also report an uptick in sales of larger-screen TVs, he says: “It’s beyond the cocooning we saw in the Jimmy Carter years.”
Sales of Sony’s first Ultra HD 4K TV, a $25,000 84-inch model that it began shipping in early December, have been “exceeding expectations,” says Sony Electronics Vice President Brian Siegel. “Over the last few years, consumers have been spending more time at home, and their expectations are increasing” for TV quality, he says.
Super-cocooning is making us less social, says analyst Michael Greeson of The Diffusion Group, a media research group.
Technology makes it possible for us to avoid leaving our homes — whether seeing a movie or getting food delivered — and, he says, it can lessen our connections with others.
“With all the information and entertainment at arm’s reach at home, why get out and meet up with a friend when you can chat on Facebook? Why go shopping for a book at Barnes & Noble when you can search through a virtually unlimited bookstore like Amazon and never leave your couch?”
Trend analyst Popcorn doesn’t see an end in sight for super-cocooning.
If anything, we will line our cocoons with more technology like the IllumiRoom that Microsoft showed off at the Consumer Electronics Show last month. Using a Kinect camera controller and projector, the IllumiRoom turns your entire room into a 3-D movie or game environment.
“You can see the evolution,” she says. “But it all comes out of the same thing: We’re people getting more and more nervous about being vulnerable.”SEE MORE
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Faith Popcorn's BrainReserve will lift you into your Best Future.
Through Applied Futurism, we chart the Trends that will shape your business over the next two decades. We then weave the Future into the very fiber of your Brand’s DNA. Our unique approach enables us to Future-position brands by unearthing new customer segmentations and innovation adjacencies, inventing on-trend products, and forging powerfully Future-focused corporate strategies.
You can find Faith Popcorn's publications on Amazon.com. Just click the links below to order.
From Publishers Weekly
Marketing consultant Popcorn is in the business of spotting commercially significant social trends to offer appropriate product and policy recommendations to blue-chip clients like AT & T, IBM and Coca-Cola (she told the latter that New Coke wouldn't work). Here she organizes 17 years of brainstorming in quick and easy takes, concluding with the projection of a totally altered American affluence for the ' 90s. Under the business name of BrainReserve and backed up by such consultants as adman Jerry Della Femina, editor Grace Mirabella and farmer Frank Perdue, Popcorn and staff have developed refreshingly original concepts and a language of their own: Down-Aging, Egonomics. Popcorn's predictions include electronic shopping from home by "cocooned" shoppers and a children's crusade to force industry and government to restore the environment. "Anticipating a new reality is the beginning of the process of creating it," writes the ever upbeat Popcorn, whose book is a great place to start that process. Fortune Book Club main selection; BOMC and QPB alternates.
From Amazon.com Review
Heralded as "the Nostradamus of marketing" by Fortune magazine, Faith Popcorn is the premier trend guru; her national bestseller The Popcorn Report identified the business and personal trends that took off in the early 90's, from "cocooning" to "cashing out." Nobody has been more accurate in demonstrating how to profit from tracking the trends, and in Clicking, Popcorn describes how to CLICK into more recently identified trends to future-fit themselves professionally and personally. Clicking is an invaluable road map to the newest lifestyle trends. It's about possibilities, taking chances, and taking charge of the future -- now.
From Publisher's Weekly
Popcorn's futurist pronouncements on consumer trends are always newsworthy; her previous books The Popcorn Report and Clicking have drawn audiences far beyond those for most business guides because of her knack for predicting social trends such as "cocooning." Spiced with canny, sound-bite delivery, proprietary terms like "BrainTrust" and marketing savvy, Popcorn's latest will surely capture the same buzz. Her BrainReserve, a consulting firm that works with major corporations, now urges clients to cater to female consumers, who have unprecedented earning power and often make household purchasing decisions. Arguing that women shop differently from menAthat is, they respond to different stimuli and employ different standards in decision makingAPopcorn anticipates the need for many small shifts in corporate advertising. Among other things, she advises marketers to imbue their brands with emotional content, to cater to women's multiple roles, to anticipate their needs and to enlist their opinions about product design. Popcorn and coauthor Marigold illustrate their ideas with examples of new marketing strategies for major clients like Nabisco Snack Well's and Kitchen Aid, as well as with examples from other entrepreneurial ventures. Readers may be bemused by the book's self-referential tone: the BrainReserve lingo and the firm's strategic dress code give the impression of a private women's club. Despite the autohrs' rambling presentation and imposing tone (they tend to weight their pronouncements with upper-case descriptions, i.e., Anticipate, Everything Matters), readers who want to be tuned in to trends will find this a valuable source. Agent, Amanda Urban, ICM. 4-city author tour; national TV satellite tour; national radio satellite tour.
From Library Journal
Popcorn (EVEolution) is a prognosticator and marketing analyst whose Manhattan consulting firm, BrainReserve, advises companies like Campbell Soup and Eastman Kodak on trends in consumer interest. Among her claims to fame were predicting the failure of New Coke and naming the late-Eighties trend of staying at home "cocooning." Here, Popcorn and Hanft, who works in marketing and advertising and has contributed to Worth and Civilization magazines, gather about 1500 words and phrases that describe late-breaking phenomena and trendy concepts. The words and phrases are either gleaned from the press, TV, business, science, technology, and academia or fall under the heading "Dictionary of the Future Predicts," created by the authors to articulate realities not yet expressed in the language. Organized into 35 topical chapters such as "Computers," "Health & Medicine," "New Behaviors," and "Technology" are such future terms as "adulescent," which refers to the trend of baby boomer adults acting more like children; "ego surfing," looking yourself up on the Internet; and "food macho," meaning eating food others find objectionable.
Faith Popcorn hosts evenings of Future-focused discussion and debate with clients and commanding members of the FPBR TalentBank to propel companies to Future-proof their brands and develop new lines of business. Recent Salon themes included:
Our bespoke reports explore the Trends and Cultural currents both supporting and threatening your business. FPBR strategists host BrainBursts with client teams to develop action plans based on the knowledge and insights they discover. We focus on forces that:
These trend missives assess forces that are reshaping the Culture and opening opportunities for your brand. They not only explain what’s coming, they offer customized strategies for navigating emerging currents . FutureVision topics have included:
We introduce clients to inspiring and disruptive currents in the Culture by guiding them on trips to cutting-edge locations actually and virtually. Through TrendTreks, we are often the first to connect brands with Future-focused services, products, packaging, and personalities that inspire tectonic innovation. We’ve led Treks all over the planet, from China, Japan, Russia, and the UAE, to France, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Recent TrendTrek themes included:
Contact us today to start planning your TrendTrek.
Few things will energize an organization like a talk from Faith Popcorn. She’s been to the Future and back and traveled the world to share her vision with the Fortune 200. Click the follow links to watch videos of some of Faith’s most recent TrendView talks.
Here are a few clips of Faith delivering her famous TrendView Speeches:
We use our innovative social networking platform, Voice of the Culture, to gain Future-focused insights from consumers across the globe. Participants can login any time and share anything text, photo, audio, or video. As a result, V.O.C. discussions are more candid and authentic, particularly during cocktail hour and after midnight, than you’ll get from traditional focus groups. We MC the proceedings and facilitate client engagement with the community. We analyze the results through the lens of our TrendBank to translate insights into strategy and action.
FPBR inspires and enables Brands to realize their Best Future today. We focus on brand positioning, strategy as well as innovation planning and execution across the marketing mix. By analyzing the competitive, consumer, and cultural landscapes through the lens of the FPBR Trends, we identify arenas where our clients can play to win. Our work will electrify your brand and amplify its opportunities.
If you knew everything about the Future, what would you do differently today? FutureScapes provide brands with trenchant insight into tomorrow’s Culture by analyzing Trends that reveal the FutureView of their category, industry, or products. We draw customized road maps that reveal new opportunities for growth and lead brands past their competitors to reach the Future first.
Culture is the new media. The road to Cultural relevance is one that every brand must travel, today and in the Future.
It is only through the Cultural space that marketers will reach consumers in the ad-less Future. FPBR’s proprietary InCulture Model allows our clients weave the DNA of their Brand into the DNA of their consumer's Culture.
FPBR’s customized InCulture Plans are developed in sync with brand objectives creating deep and sticky connections with your consumer in the comfort of her Culture.
It's not too soon to create your InCulture Plan.The Future is always closer than it appears. Click here to view InCulture in action: the Gold Effie award winning Tylenol case study.
We’ve assembled a whip-smart coterie of more than 10,000 Cultural mavens, trend watchers, inventors, and innovators spanning virtually every profession. We engage these creative Futuristas to deepen our insights and whet our predictive practice. Sixty percent of the TalentBank is female, making it one of our most powerful sources for EVEolutionary insight.