Beware middle-class anger as 2012 looks like a year of protest

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The last 12 months can be fairly described as eventful.

Over the course of a year we have witnessed the Arab Spring, seen riots across major British cities, looked on as the Euro moved to the point of collapse and watched Japan and New Zealand struggle with the aftermath of natural disaster.

Given the ever-changing nature of the world, the job of trendspotting is not for the faint-hearted, but Marian Salzman has been predicting the future for a good few years now and a little unpredictability is not about to get in her way. And her main forecast for the next 12 months? Beware the squeezed middle.

“The middle classes are terribly important in keeping stability,” says Marian, who works for the global advertising giant Euro RSCG. “When they are happy they keep the poor from becoming enraged with their lot. However, the anger which has been bubbling under for much of this year has a very good chance of rising to the top in 2012.

“People are not just unhappy, they are irate and becoming increasingly prepared to do something about it. It’s not just bankers and politicians they are railing against, this protesting tendency seems to be infecting every area of life. I was in the Netherlands recently, a place that’s usually very laid back, and they were even demonstrating against a dog park being moved.

“Regardless of what they believe or where they live, people are talking – loudly, clearly and in most cases with great aplomb.”

Given the bleak economic outlook, in 2012 more and more of us will beat a retreat from reality.

“People are looking for new ways to escape,” says Marian. “Next year will welcome a full-on push for television on the internet. YouTube will launch scheduled programming with shows on everything from fashion to sports, while Google TV will debut, surely redefining the realm of the couch potato.

“However, technology is an interesting area. We are never going to be able to wind back the clock, but as we become more dependent on the internet, the digital detox will also become part and parcel of our lives and coffee shops and other establishments I’m sure will soon be using ‘No Wi-Fi’ as a selling point.”

Marian’s other predictions include a revival of vinyl, the emergence of India as a pleasure playground, taking over from Dubai, and the domination of what she calls the “lipstick geeks”.

“The technology barons are about to be unseated as women infiltrate this traditionally male-dominated sector,” she says. “It’s already begun with the appointment of IBM’s first female CEO and 2012 will see the floodgates open.”

However, if there is one thing companies need to guarantee success in the next 12 months it is a fully working “greydar”.

“The world really is going grey, with some countries seeing citizens getting older in record numbers,” adds Marian.

“It’s no surprise that manufacturers are trying to woo this sector. LG’s successful new mobile phone boasts big buttons and text, Toyota has introduced swivel seats to make it easier to get in and out of its cars and Asahi shoes are promoting technology which is good for the knees.

“Youth will represent a niche market and the older population represents fantastic opportunities.

“However, they also know exactly what they want and won’t put up with anything they see as being patronising or second rate.”