Today’s Indulgences are Tomorrow’s Necessities

holidayad.gifI subscribe to’s monthly trend report and you should too. It’s jam-packed with great insights and it’s free. This week, I received an email from Trendwatching advertising their annual compilation report. In the graphic, I saw these words:

Today’s Indulgences are Tomorrow’s Necessities

It was accompanied by a couple of iconic branding images like the PanAm logo and what looked like a Digital Equipment Corp VT52 terminal. That got me thinking. Each decade has had it’s indulgences and aspirational luxuries which have gone on to become everyday necessities. Here are some that come to mind:

  • 50’s: Television, room air conditioner
  • 60’s: Air conditioned car, color TV
  • 70’s; Microwave oven, personal music player (Walkman), calculator
  • 80’s cell phone (in a bag), terminal and modem (PC towards the end of the decade)
  • 90’s: PC (early), Digital Camera, stock broker
  • 00’s: Daily Starbucks $4.00 latte (took less than a decade to become necessity), mobile web browsing device (also rapidly becoming a necessity)

What’s important to keep in mind is that the migration of these things to everyday necessities has been the result of both technological advances and cultural/societal changes in the world around us.

Technical advances have clearly been the enabler for the rapid transition of many recent items. In fact, it becomes increasingly difficult to look at these things in terms of the “decades”. The DVD player, for example, went from aspirational to necessity in just a few years and brought with it the death of the VCR.

This collapsing timeframe means innovators, designers, entrepreneurs and marketers all need to stay keenly aware of the technical and cultural trends which drive these migrations and be ready to take advantage of those that are about to take off.

In the spirit of leveraging the trend of social media, I would like to get your thoughts on the subject.

  • What things, considered to be aspirational or indulgences today, do you think will be necessities in the future?
  • How long will it take to get to that point?
  • How can innovators, designers, entrepreneurs and marketers take advantage of the opportunity today?

2 comments so far

  1. Bill Rattner on

    Well, I just got the Nokia N810. It does several things but the one thing it does that dosn’t quite have a name yet is bring laptop functionality to the pocket.

    “Pockettop”? I dunno, that doesn’t sound buzzword-worthy but it does capture the essence.

    It’s the love child of my laptop and cellphone.

  2. Doug Meacham on

    Hi Bill. PC/Cellphone “Love Child”! You’ll have to show it to me at our next lunch get together.

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