By Brad Ross, Global Trend Forecasting
Whole Foods promotes Community Giving Days where 5% of that day’s net sales are given to local non-profits. Google invests in creating exceptional work environments, and giving their employees radical amounts of flexibility. IDEO.org offers their own in-house designers’ assistance to communities in need. And the beloved Zappos “delivers happiness” through surprising customers with free overnight shipping.
If you do a Google search for the business and marketing buzzwords for 2015, you will not find the word PURPOSE. However, the tectonic plates have shifted and purpose is now a strong and real force with which to be reckoned. It is turning not only the economic tide, but concurrently altering business and consumer behavior.
By definition, “Purpose is the reason for which something exists or is done, made, or used.” The topic has been studied and written about by such authors as Aaron Hurst, in his book, “The Purpose Economy” and by Rick Warren, in his motivational phenomena, “The Purpose Driven Life.” The overwhelming response to these two works, clearly indicates society’s desire for purpose on some level. However, less obvious than millions of book sales are some deeper, more inconspicuous catalysts fueling this trend.
Armed with democratization of commerce, the Millennials are the harbingers of this movement. Tirelessly seeking purpose, they redefine success by aligning their passions with their day-to-day existence. Entrepreneurs like Perry Chen, Yancey Strickler, and Charles Adler, the founders of Kickstarter, have created a purpose-driven product based on void and need. And though this generation can impressively produce and manage these types of thriving businesses all from their smart phones, they are merely the patron saints of this new trend.
Other “disciples” of the purpose movement can be found within the maker community, (not to be confused with hobbyists), where people from all ages and walks of life are returning to creating things. Their creative “studios” can be found in kitchens, backyards, and even desktop 3-D printers. In the United States alone, there are approximately 135 million adult Makers pumping roughly $29 billion into the economy each year. This new culture of makers is establishing a unique and authentic aesthetic, with purpose at its’ core; a vision of the next industrial revolution.
The last hidden component behind this trend in purpose comes from 76.4 million people in the US coined as the Baby Boomers, who, over the next 15 years, will be retiring at a rate of approximately 8,000 a day, and by 2029, will represent roughly 20% of the US population. This massive, aging class has long-chased the American Dream, finding identity and purpose in their jobs. Albeit a noble attribute to possess, this group, upon retirement, will face a “new normal”, causing an inevitable search for a different identity and purpose. As the Boomers confront this challenge en masse, it will cause our current social and economic dynamic to be greatly altered.
So whether a Millennial, a Maker or a Boomer, a brighter future is something each one can realistically hope for, with the inauguration of this unique and powerful trend. Countless opportunities await, redefining the paths of meaning, fulfillment and purpose. In the words of Jennifer Hartnett-Henderson, Every day we’re confronted with an endless buffet of choices and excitement. But, if we’ll just randomly pick all the things we like our plate will taste like nothing. The promise of this era will only be met by those who will be able to manage them carefully. Therefore these times need new aspirations. They need a mindset that is more focused on how we do things rather than on what we do on achieving something rather than on becoming someone.
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