For the last 40 years most of us have operated in acquisition mode. We gained access to the right schools, fought for top positions at blue-chip firms, moved into the upper-class neighborhoods, campaigned for admission into the right associations, and bought all the appropriate accessories, from high-end cars and vacation homes to exquisite jewelry and designer clothes. The pursuit was all about status. We spent a lot and sacrificed even more—our families, our health, our happiness—to demonstrate we were worthy of acceptance. In the midst of the Great Recession, however, we learned that the trappings were transient.
Our economic setbacks have not doused our desire for the finer things but forced us to assign new measures of significance to them, making smarter and more value-driven (personal and financial) purchases. In a survey released this year, PricewaterhouseCoopers revealed that 72% of shoppers changed their buying behavior because of the economy and predicted an enduring shift to more purposeful spending where shoppers look for goods that “exhibit qualities of timeliness, usefulness, and versatility.” In the next 40 years our luxury indulgences will be driven less by celebrity endorsement than a marriage of style and value. Toss your glasses of celebrity-touted Ciroc and grab the keys to the Hyundai. Don’t gasp! Their new luxury full-size sedan, the 2011 Equus, is comparable in style and handling to popular competing luxury brands—for roughly $20,000 less. Plus, with purchase, customers receive an iPad programmed with an Equus Owner’s Manual application that offers a range of personalized services, such as valet offerings, and 24/7 assistance ranging from help questions to one-touch service scheduling. It’s no coincidence that BMW’s 2011 7 series offering is being introduced for $12,000 less than the previous year.
Speaking of the iPad, technology will keep us more engaged and connected to work than ever before. Our leisure outlets will increasingly become an extension of our professional lives. In fact, many executives have adopted physical activities such as marathon running, swimming, and white water rafting as metaphors for mental endurance and meeting challenges on the job.
The global workplace will encourage the nurturing of friendships in far, exotic locales and open our tastes to a wide variety of sporting and leisure activities, whetting our appetites for greater adventure. Science and technology, however, will provide broadening insight into health and wellness. As longevity increases so will our interest in living healthier, finding fulfillment and passion in our work, and carving out a balance between business and play to better manage stress. Holistic practices such as yoga, qigong, tai chi, and meditation will connect the physical, mental, and spiritual, becoming not alternative health methods but an integrative part of how we manage our lives.
Sonia Alleyne is BE’s editorial director of careers and lifestyle.