Higher gasoline prices may boost online shopping

Higher gasoline prices are causing consumers to change their driving behavior, as well as to cut spending on luxury items and even groceries, according to a survey of 1,000 consumers commissioned by PriceRunner.com. Online retailers may see benefits from higher gas prices as 22% of the respondents indicated that they’re making more online purchases to save on the cost of driving to the store.

Furthermore, 10% said that they’d canceled all or part of their vacation plans as a result of higher gas prices; and 12.8% said they had chosen closer vacation destinations.

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Methodology
Online survey with 1,000 respondents resulting in a +/- 3.1% maximum sampling margin of error at the 95% confidence level. Survey conducted by Amplitude Research, April 2007

Update

Consumers have boosted online spending in part as a way to save on gas, according to a new report released by Decision Direct Research, the marketing research division of Millard Group Inc. The survey of 55,000 consumers showed that 19% of respondents have “significantly” increased their online spending over the past year and another 39% report that their spending has increased “slightly.” When asked why they increased their Internet shopping, “saves gas” posted an increase of 13 points over 2006, while “saves time” increased by six points. — DM News, 13 September 2007

Barriers to China’s growth

China’s economy seems to be going gangbusters. “Forecasts suggest it could overtake the USA, Japan and Germany to become the world’s largest economy as early as 2035,” according to Global Futures & Forecast (GFF) and Fast Future. But GFF’s survey of international business leaders and futurists finds that there nevertheless are some short-term barriers to the China juggernaut:

Barriers to China’s growth
Bureaucracy (cited by 41% of respondents)
Corruption (32%)
Energy shortages (22%)
Lack of experienced managers (18%)
Protectionist behavior in export markets (18%)
Slow market reforms (18%)
Social unrest (18%)
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Base: 700 respondents from 60 countries
Source: “The Future of China’s Economy: The Path to 2020,” by Rohit Talwar, Global Futures & Foresight (GFF) and Fast Future; cited in The Futurist magazine (July-August 2007, World Future Society)

2020 foresight: New jobs

Futurists at Social Technologies LLC see the following new jobs on the horizon for the year 2020:

  • Realizer: Creates real versions of virtual objects for people, from grog tankards to sports cars.
  • E-scrubber: Works to undo or minimize the indiscretions that people accumulate on the Web.
  • Unrealtor: Creates virtual tourism, adventure and retail destinations.
  • Nano-decontaminator: Cleans up nanomaterials now being spread through the environment.
  • Deceptionist: Provides tech-enabled deception services for those wishing to disguise their activities.
  • Genetic dietician: Creates diets tailored to people’s individual genetic makeup.
  • Geoscaper: Makes corporate and private properties look attractive in Google Earth-style aerial views.
  • Unplugger: Counselor (or mental health professional) who helps wean people from excessive technology use.
  • Eye pilot: Operates small, remotely piloted, camera-equipped aerial vehicles over war zones, disasters and other locations of interest on behalf of news services, nongovernmental organizations and private companies.

But a colleague of mine noted that very few people will want to be known as a “deceptionist.” It’s a hard thing to want to put on your IRS tax return or tell your kids.

Proactive gets a flashy new HQ

Competitive intelligence firm Proactive Worldwide Inc. has moved into fancy new offices at its Rolling Meadows, Ill., headquarters. The announcement has a good deal of hype, but even so, it seems like the HQ will certainly impress clients. The following excerpts from the announcement describe some of the features:

  • “multi-level security cameras, motion sensors, as well as restricted keycard and biometric access” to protect  clients intellectual capital
  • “The Command Center” has an “energetic, newsroom atmosphere” for conducting primary research with “team collaboration areas and several flat-screen televisions on the walls that feed news and information to staff around the clock.”
  • “a fully equipped Center of Excellence” training center for employees and clients
  • and various employee perks (reminiscent of the dot-com days): “a cyber café, equipped with coffeehouse music tracks, flat screen TVs, Wi-Fi connectivity, a foosball table and enough seating for informal, as well as company-wide, meetings. Near the café, a relaxation room offers a haven for employees to rest and recharge in fully expandable recliner chairs, with relaxing sound, temperature control, aromatherapy, and optional chair massages once a month.”