Megatrends and Anti-Trends

Kristin Alford who was also at last weeks SMO Cleantech Confernce has a thought provoking piece on anti trends, inspired by Stefan Hajkowicz’s overview of Megatrends which I discussed yesterday.

It’s an theory I can agree with – just because there is a trend doesn’t mean that everyone will go along with it, and the anti trends can sometimes have more impact than the trends themselves, punk rock and organic food being two recent examples. While mega trends are global, the effect of anti trends becomes magnified as we get down to more local levels. Anyway, back to CSIROs megatrends and Kristin’s anti-trends…

Megatrend 1: More from Less – A world of limited and depleting resources with increasing demand for those resources through economic growth and increases in population. A need to focus on resource use efficiency.

Anti-trend 1: Less from Less – A world of limited resources and depleting resources, with demand for those resources slowing as people appreciate these limitations. People are turning to multi-functional devices, reusable items and buying experiences and therefore require less products.

Megatrend 2: A Personal Touch – personalisation of products and services. Growth of the services sector of western economies is being followed by a second wave of innovation aimed at tailoring and targeting services.

Anti-trend 2: Reducing Choice – A backlash against too much choice. People shop at ALDI, make choices between only two suppliers (eg Mac or PC) and look for ways of simplifying decision-making.

Megatrend 3: Divergent Demographics – OECD countries are ageing and experiencing lifestyle and diet related health problems. The developing and underdeveloped worlds show high fertility rates and food scarcity.

Anti-trend 3: Growing Global Health – Improved treatments for chronic diseases lead to longer lifespans with better health outcomes. Education and application of technologies within local values in developing world also improve health outcomes and slow fertility growth.

Megatrend 4: On the move – Move to cities and people are increasingly mobile, changing jobs and careers more often, moving house more often, commuting further and travelling more often.

Anti-trend 4: Fulfilment – Young people are urged to follow passions, which lead to a range of jobs, but some consistency in career. New online technologies deliver improved face to face opportunities for connection, leading to less travel.

Megatrend 5: iWorld – digital and natural convergence. Everything in the natural world will have a digital counterpart. Computing power and memory storage are improving rapidly. Many more devices are getting connected to the internet.

Anti-trend 5: Opting out – Not everything will have a digital shadow if sections of the community are able to opt-out.

Thought provoking stuff, and also an alternative way at looking at investment opportunities. While much of venture capital goes into ‘me too’ investments such as solar, biofuels, social media, which drives up valuations and invariably ends in disappointment for most investors, spotting the opportunities in anti trends gives smart investors a way to leverage niche opportunities at low cost.

Most investment decisions are based on following a consensus view of the future, and while maverick anti trends are high risk, they also have the potential for much higher rewards.

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