Americans are ending 2009 feeling better about their futures but less than merry about the present. While The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index rose to 52.9 this month from 50.6 in November, its two components went in distinctly different directions. The Expectations Index rose to 75.6, its highest level since the 75.8 reached in December 2007, but the assessment of current conditions, known as the Present Situation Index, sank to 18.8, the lowest since its 17.5 nadir in February 1983. According to Lynn Franco, director of the group’s Consumer Research Center, "Consumers remain rather pessimisticabouttheir short-term prospects and this will likely continue to play a key role in spending decisions in early 2010." In a Q&A, marketing guru Jack Trout recommended communicating with these anxious consumers via pithy statements of what a brand represents, rather than flashy technology, a rush to social media or glib sloganeering.
A Stella McCartney sketch of a custom dress made from protein-based silk in partnership with biotech lab Bolt Threads. The dress will be displayed at The Museum of Modern Art's upcoming design exhibition, "Items: Is Fashion Modern?"