When people travel, they obviously tend to focus on the differences between places. The scooter traffic in Saigon seems like a world apart from the freeway car jams in Los Angeles. The preserved architecture in Paris is the antithesis of the ultra-modern structures at the Bun in Shanghai. Food usually varies a great deal between different parts of the world, depending on the local natural resources and taste buds.
We as humans have built different cultures that interpret the world from varying perspectives. For many, like me, those differences are what make traveling so interesting and rewarding. Learning new cultures, languages and perspectives stimulates the mind, the senses and our souls.
However, what is just as strikingly interesting now are the similarities between different cultures and different lands. As peoples of this world we’ve decided, more or less, on certain universal preferences. For example, Italian-style coffee has become the world’s standard (aided by a brand called Starbucks). Japanese-style sushi is in large part the universal favorite seafood for the young – as well as many of the health-conscious old – whether you are in Rio, Chicago, Moscow, Rome, Tokyo or elsewhere.
Apple and Samsung smartphones have become the standard worldwide whether you are in the backstreets of Mumbai or the high streets of London. Most of us communicate by texting each other regardless of languages, and spend much of our time on social media platforms communicating with our so called “friends”.
For me, it seems as if I can’t escape American pop music no matter where I am in the world. It’s basically the “universal pop culture” for the young. “Cool” is “kool” all over the world.
As technology (with its own biases) continues to pull our cultures together and multi-national brands get better at appealing to the core desires of all human beings, the convergence of societies will accelerate for better or for worse (especially from urban centers to urban centers). There will be continued development of universal tastes that easily and naturally transcend across cultures. From these trends the next generation of mega-global brands will eventually emerge, ruling the business ecosystem for the coming decades.