How The Recession Could Impact Communications Forever

This recession (or depression) has the potential to systemically impact how people communicate.  Some potential impacts:

  • Death of newspapers (discussed last week)
  • Death of the land line (everyone has a mobile phone)
  • Death of magazines (similar to the newspaper issue – drop in advertisements)
  • Reduction in mail (as costs go up and if service were dropped to 5 days a week)
  • Short-term reduction in use of high speed Internet (save money)
  • Short-term reduction in use of text messaging (save money)
  • Less use of cable (being replaced by online TV shows)
  • Move to digital coupons

I think some of these will also be affected by the green movement where printing massive amounts of paper and sending those to people (who can get the same information online) will become important.  [Although this has been talked about for years, costs may finally make it a reality.]

Some other things that could change:

  • Reduction in the value of co-branding information as the employer relationship becomes less long-term and more fragile [Traditionally, this has been an important strategy in direct mail from health plans and PBMs where using the employer has improved response rates.]
  • Improvement in use of online tools (Health 2.0) as people move away from print
  • Increased use of virtual meetings and further loss of face-to-face contact as companies move to virtual offices and cut travel budgets

If you combine cost driven changes with environmental driven changes with likely technology changes, I suspect that the way we communicate and interact with people over the next 10 years will dramatically change.  In the short-term, we may even see an increased number of new Luddites (people who shun technology to save money and over frustration with our overall economic situation).

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