The World Is Shrinking
Just as the internet can be blamed for a lot of not-so-good things in our lives today, we have to acknowledge that it is also responsible for some positive ones. Online price comparisons and shopping aside, the internet has provided consumers from all over the globe with instant trend and style inspiration.
My family was big on international travel and I became comfortable in exotic environments at a young age. Up until, say, the mid-to-late 1990s, going abroad meant being exposed to different music, food, and fashion. In more recent years, when I travel overseas, I see most of the same brands in food and fashion as well as music artists that I am surrounded by at home. This is not necessarily a good thing (I miss discovering the uniqueness of each country and region); however, on the flip side, it has brought commonality to society as a whole that could – hopefully – bring greater tolerance and appreciation for other cultures.
When I first started reporting on lighting and home furnishings in the 1990s, I would see avant-garde designs in Europe and realize that the American market would not be ready for those looks for at least five years — if at all.
Times have changed. Thanks to the internet and the wide availability of broadcasts (first from “cable” TV stations and then from streaming video content online), consumers in every first-world country are aware of what the home décor, apparel fashion, and music trends are at any given moment. This point was reinforced when I was interviewing lighting veterans from Canada for this issue’s special section. Style trends and customer needs are very much in sync no matter which side of the U.S.-Canadian border you call home — and I believe the same is true for nations overseas, with the remaining regional differences getting smaller every day.
Whether you are a fan of the internet or not, this seemingly universal trend awareness is not going to reverse itself. Today’s technology has provided us with tools for satisfying customer needs no matter where they live. And if you think the trends for your area are unique and not likely to change, I urge you to keep an eye out for what is trending in other parts of the country, continent, and world so you will be prepared for when the demand for those looks reaches your front door.