Marketing and advertising people can talk a load of nonsense at the best of times. But if you want to hear them at their worst, ask them to talk about social trends. The average social trends presentation is a guaranteed mix of the obvious, irrelevant and false.
Recently, we were listening to a conference speech about changing lifestyles’. Life nowadays is faster than ever, said the speaker. We work longer hours. We have less free time. Families are fragmenting. Food is eaten on the run..
We’ve been listening to this bullshit for 30 years. And it’s no more true now that it was then. The inconvenient, less headline-worthy truth is that people have more free time than ever. Economic cycles wax and wane, but the long-term trend in all developed economies is toward shorter, more flexible working hours. And longer holidays. People start work later in life and spend much longer in retirement. Work takes up a smaller percentage of our life than it used to.
Related myths about pressures on. family time are equally false. Contrary to popular belief, in developed economies parents spend more time with their children these days. Not less. Research shows the amount of time families spend eating together has stayed remarkably constant over the years, As has the amount of time they spend together watching TV.