Richard Laermer's Trends for 2009

Plus Reasons Chinese Consumers Won't Save the West

By Published on .

1. BAILOUT FOR BOOKS
First people stop buying books as Wii, DVR, and Hulu make it too easy to do eye exercises. Prez Obama sinks a cool billion into life support for the publishing doofuses. Taxpayers take to the street to protest; then the hullabaloo makes people realize Barnes & Noble is in fact a bookstore, not a coffee shop.

2. MACY'S GOES CASUAL
People learn Target and Macy's basically sell the same stuff and stop paying attention to their advertising. Macy's becomes "Walmart without dog food and toilet paper."

3. A HEART-WARMING BLOCKBUSTER?
A movie opens quietly that touches people's hearts and yet has no celebrities. What occurs is this: Wes Anderson changes his name to something obscure and recruits actors via YouTube auditions. They shoot the feel-good movie of the year in Prospect Park, and it grosses more than a billion. But alas, the goodwill is ruined by the studio's DVD- release hype.

4. BLOOMBERG VS. CHAINS
The City of New York bans store chains from opening more than one location in any neighborhood. As 7-Elevens invade the territory reserved for the grimy neighborhood bodega, third-termer Michael Bloomberg proclaims that every city block ought to have at least one store where it's fine for locals to sit outside on milk crates and drink $2 Snapple out of paper bags . Subsequently, taxes rise. I heart NY.

5. A MAGAZINE STAYS OPEN, SELLS ADS
The post-millennial Saturday Evening Post announces that it is merging with Playboy, and suddenly Martha and O's magazines are in big trouble. The new mag publishes things people want to read and engenders brand loyalty in its readers by being authentic and dirty. The printed word is the new black.

6. A BIG IDEA
Someone not named Donnie Deutsch takes over the 10 p.m. spot on CNBC and does interviews with people who have something to say that isn't a prepared statement by flacks. Jeff Zucker for once gets a night's sleep.

7. THE IPHONE TIDE
The iPhone is given away with boxes of Tide detergent. Steve Jobs takes to the stage at MacWorld and proclaims that Tide is all he ever uses on his closetful of black turtlenecks and jeans because, "like Apple,Tide is a noun, and I like nouns." The iPhone is priced down to $9.99, and Americans begin to make all their spending money selling ideas via the App Store.

8. BANDWAGONING
After the calamitous failure of several self-help biz books, we start noting how much cheaper it is to enact someone else's great idea -- and pretend it's ours. The '09 way to live a saner and more successful existence is by, you guessed it, jumping on the bandwagon in order to forgo sitting at the reins trying to blaze the trail ourselves.

9. BAD TV IS BANNED
All remaining reality TV gigs, "One Tree Hill" and the ridiculously skinny "90210" are banned by the feds because a CDC study proves they are in fact not guilty pleasures at all but instantly kill brain cells upon viewing. The ACLU challenges the move as a violation of free speech, or at least a bad use of pee breaks. The liberals win, and a Fox reality show is quickly constructed. Its title: "ACLU-Ville."

10. EXECS SELL THEIR SOLES
Those bass-ackward Kenneth Cole HELP ads inspire jobless executives to hawk $500 loafers on New York's Canal Street. In a similar story, "My Super Sweet 16" is canceled because no one is able to afford to pay for parties that huge and absurd anymore. Rational people rejoice. 2009 is heralded as a banner year!

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Richard Laermer is CEO of RLM Public Relations and author of "2011: Trendspotting"

Reasons Chinese Consumers Won't Save the West

1. SLOW GROWTH
The country was overdue for a major cyclical downturn. GDP growth has fallen below 10% for the first time in more than five years.

2. WORLD BANK BLUES
The World Bank revised China's growth downward to 7.5% from an earlier projection of 9.2%.

3. STALLED AUTO SECTOR
This fall, after six years of at least 20% annual growth, Chinese car sales have started to drop.

4. SLOW GROWTH (PART TWO)
Property prices in China this fall grew at their slowest pace in more than three years.

5. TRUST ISSUES
Despite the tainted-milk scandal, most Chinese consumers still trust domestic brands more than foreign ones.

6. SLUMPING STOCK MARKET
By mid-November, China's benchmark stock index, the CSI 300, had slumped 67% this year, making it Asia's worst performer. The Shanghai Stock Exchange has also nose-dived.

7. THE 'C' WORD
Salaries for the urban middle class will remain stagnant, and their spending will fall as China's Communist party narrows the wealth gap and secures political stability in rural areas with New Deal-like investment projects.

8. FACTORY CLOSINGS
Falling export orders have forced thousands of factories to close in industrial south China.

9. POPULATION PRESSURES
China is under growing tension from its large population, limited resources and environmental problems. Its focus is sustainable development, not a global bailout.

10. SELF-INTEREST
China's government enjoys gloating. After years of Western pressure to open up its financial markets, the shoe is on the other foot. At most, China can save itself.

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