Chapter 4

Lighten the Load and Make It Sesame Street Simple

Watch out for a new brand of consumer … surrounded by too much stuff … increasingly skeptical in the face of a financial meltdown that it was all worth the effort. Out will go luxury purchases, conspicuous consumption, and a trophy culture. Tomorrow’s consumer will buy more ephemeral, less cluttering stuff: fleeting, but expensive, experiences, not heavy goods for the home.

—John Quelch, Dean, China Europe International Business School (CEIBS), Shanghai and Non-Executive Director, WPP PLC

I have very few possessions … a few papers, a couple of books, and a few shirts, jackets, sweaters. It fits in a little thing, in a paper bag, so it’s very easy.

—Nicolas Berggruen, billionaire investor and Chairman of Berggruen Holdings

There are a number of ways we are lightening the load and dematerializing goods and information, as this evolution shows. Printed books were literally state-of-the-art for more than 600 years, while the CD-ROM and flash drive have been blink-of-an-eye stepping stones to the even lighter—and invisible—cloud storage.

SOURCE: Bix Burkhart/Photographer’s Choice/Getty Images.

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In the developed world, we are choking on stuff as well as on information: In recent years, self-storage has been one of the fastest-growing businesses, as people in even super-sized homes run out of space for their accumulating junk. ...

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