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Intriguing piece in the Wall Street Journal Online yesterday about the impact that the digital age could have on an acquisitive culture.

The premise, according to the article, is that there are certain items that people simply won’t need anymore as technology changes the rules. CDs, for example, are being replaced as people download music from the Internet; they are, in essence going the way of the cassette and the eight-track.

The same is likely to happen to movies, as people eschew DVDs for online downloads. Or photo albums, which can be replaced by just a little bit of memory on a computer hard drive.

The Wall Street Journal Online doesn’t suggest that everything will be seen via digital media. Whether people will continue to read physical newspapers or will gravitate to online versions is an open question; it seems less likely, according to the column, that people will stop buying an dreading books – if only because people tend to have an emotional connection to their books that transcends the act of reading them.

And there doesn’t seem to be any way that food will be replaced by digital media – unless, of course, the food replicators seen on “Star Trek” become a reality.
KC's View:
We found this to be an intriguing piece because it suggests some basic changes in how people acquire the things they like – though it is more a shift in how they acquire, as opposed to becoming less acquisitive.

But as these changes occur, they are likely to foreshadow other changes in consumer behavior…such as a broader dependence on e-commerce, for example.

These are the kinds of social/cultural behaviors to which retailers and manufacturers need to pay close attention. The short term impact is discernible, but the broader implications are enormous.