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Business Trend 'Themes' for 2012

I am a data junkie.  I like to look at trend data - employment and careers, business, executive compensation, etc.  For many years (posted in 'even' years), created a list of the 10 hot business areas projected to grow for the next two years.  This year there was a marked change.  All of the business future trend sites I looked at had theme areas rather than specific business categories.  Thankfully, there was substantial overlap in these lists.  Here are what appear to be the theme areas to watch (and 'invest' in) for 2012:
  1. The Senior Market - any business associated with seniors is growing.  According to the Census Bureau, 13.5% of the U.S. population is already 65 or older.  That will grow to 16.2% by 2020.
  2. Green Power - regardless of politics, saving the planet (using less energy/creating less waste) is here to stay.
  3. Discount Retail/Consignment Shops - the Dollar Store and Family Dollar are setting records; so are resale/consignment shops.
  4. Local Business - demand is growing for locally grown and made products.  People want to invest in their community - and this is an easy way to do it.
  5. Education - huge numbers of people are going back to school.  One term for it - "up-skilling"!
  6. Parental Outsourcing - these are things we as parents will gladly pay for rather than do ourselves either because of time, safety or expertise.  Areas of growth include driving schools, test preparation, sports coaching and college selection.  (You have to love the term!)
  7. Health and Wellness - simply put, we want to live longer.  Looking good, feeling great, being healthy and fighting aging show no signs of a slowdown.
  8. Home Renovation/Design - we may not be able to afford a move to a new/larger home, but we are growing tired of not improving what we have.  And there is a sub-category of growth - senior-house retrofitting (helping seniors stay in their current homes by making the house livable on one floor).
  9. Social Media for Small Businesses - all small business owners know that they need social media; few have the time to figure it out.  A consultant with the expertise and an a la carte menu will be in high demand.
  10. Pets - we may skimp on ourselves, but not our pets.  Spending over the past few years has topped $40 billion (more that the GDP of 60+ countries).
One final fun trend piece to watch (literally) . . . . . J. Walter Thompson is one of the world's best known marketing/communications brands.  They put out a piece on the top 10 trends we need to watch this year.  Check it out at Welcome to 2012+!