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FREECONOMY

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A ton of reports on inflation, unemployment and other economic indicators are slated to hit Wall Street. The Fed is considering dropping rates another quarter point...and the financial world braces. The thing is, everyday Americans don't need data to tell them the economy is in the crapper!


Beyond the gas pump, we're beginning to feel it in other areas now. Some of us will grab the rebates (if we get one) and continue to spend. Some of us may chose to scale back a little, simplify - or maybe even get out of debt! What we're feeling here in America is surely going to hit other markets, too - as our spending ability (and willingness) decline and impact the economy of producing nations. In the long run, most of us are going to have to spend less.
As an interesting parallel, a whole bunch of us Westerners are becoming overwhelmed by the sheer weight of the "stuff" we own. We aren't just over stimulated by media messages, but by the physical things we accumulate. We've got so much stuff we need bigger houses to hold our stuff... and when it gets to be too much, we have a garage sale or make a trip to Good Will to get rid of our stuff. What I'm seeing is that the STUFF we have doesn't just influence us to give stuff away -- it makes us want to spend less.
We hear a lot of trends like "Going Green." However, I suspect, in the very near future, we'll be seeing a new trend in marketing and customer experience targeted to folks of all economic ranges who are beginning to scale back, spend less, simplify and/or economize.
Interestingly, the "want to spend less" and "have to spend less" reality has a direct influence on what Reinier Evers, founder of Trendwatching calls "FREE LOVE" in this month's trendwatching report. According to Evers, the Free Love trend is defined as follows:
FREE LOVE: the ongoing rise of free, valuable stuff that's available to consumers online and offline. From AirAsia tickets to Wikipedia, and from diapers to music.
FREE LOVE thrives on an all-out war for consumers' ever-scarcer attention and the resulting new business models and marketing techniques, but also benefits from the ever-decreasing costs of producing physical goods, the post-scarcity dynamics of the online world (and the related avalanche of free content created by attention-hungry members of GENERATION C), the many C2C marketplaces enabling consumers to swap instead of spend, and an emerging recycling culture.

This report will fill you in on the astonishing amount of free goodies there are to be had, from wireless, national and international phone service, free airline tickets, free food & beverages, car rentals, photo prints, textbooks, travel guides, wifi, gps, stock photography, notes, photocopies, financial management, games, bikes, music, vacation homes... and much more.
According to trendwatching, the rise in free love is attributed to a number of factors and I agree with all of them. It even addresses how my own increased desire to get rid of our crap and clutter plays into the free love phenomena (swap - not spend...etc). My only critique of the briefing is that it doesn't seem include the economy as an influencing factor in the expansion of the free love trend- and I am positive it will have a direct impact.
Whatever the case, the report is also FREE! Read it to get yourself some goodies. Read it for the ideas. Enjoy!


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Leigh Duncan Durst (leigh at livepath dot net) is a 20-year veteran of marketing, e-commerce, and business and the founder of Live Path (www.livepath.net).

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  • by Paul Barsch Mon Mar 3, 2008 via blog

    Leigh, on a tangential note there's a good article in Wired about freeconomics. http://www.wired.com/techbiz/it/magazine/16-03/ff_free

  • by Leigh Duncan-Durst Mon Mar 3, 2008 via blog

    Thanks, Paul. Ironically, I sent off for a paper copy of that issue on Thursday - yet and neglected to put it in this post! Brain cramp.

  • by Heather Mon Mar 3, 2008 via blog

    your article hit such a chord with me. just this morning during my commute I was wondering about how early is too early for a spring garage sale. i have the urge to purge like crazy -- and it has everything to do with the need to combat the tsunami of crap that I seem to accumulate. these days, I get the same adrenaline high from removing and recycling mismatched tupperware from my kitchen cubboards that I do from running five miles. i'll likely never have the guts to do it, but my fantasies these days are of living in a tumbleweed home surrounded by freegans.

  • by Brian Reinholz Tue Mar 4, 2008 via blog

    This is interesting, especially when contrasted with the tax refund most Americans will be getting this year. More and more people are confessing that that money is going straight to the savings - so will it really have any impact on boosting the economy? Every day it seems U.S. businesses are becoming more service-oriented and less product-oriented. An interesting dynamic - but who reigns on top in a global marketplace? The knowledge leader or the production/demand leaders?

  • by Neil Anuskiewicz Wed Mar 5, 2008 via blog

    I do not think the rebate will necessarely boost the economy long-term but, keep in mind, money in savings (banks invest it), paying debt, etc., is still money doing work of some sort. There is no such thing as idle money, unless you have it stashed under your mattress. Money in savings isprobably better (in the long-run) better than short term mall binging. It prepares for the future and provides the economy with investment.

  • by Christina Lomeli Fri Mar 7, 2008 via blog

    What do you think has brought about the "Free Love" mentality? The rise of e-bay? Finding a treasure amongst someone's trash on craigslist? The in-your-face "Go Green" campaigns that sprout from every which way direction? I'm certainly curious.

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