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Trendspotting: What is nomadism?

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Market research is partly based on the investigation of past, current and future consumption trends that may support business activity. Trends research can be seen as a component of the PESTEL analysis which aims at studying all aspects of a market that are not under your control : Political, Economic, Sociologic, Technological, Ecological and Legal constraints. Look at the first letter of each of the words and you’ll understand where the name PESTEL is coming from.

 During our market analysis we need of course to study those trends and what has struck us is that some trends impact a lot of different business. Nomadism is one of them.

What is nomadism?

Nomadism is defined by the Encyclopedia Britannica as a “way of life of peoples who do not live continually in the same place but move cyclically or periodically”.

This definition obviously don’t apply to the meaning understood in our modern societies. Rather nomadism refers to the a modern trend empowered by the development of communication possibilities and in particular mobile devices (tablets, cell phones, smartphones). In light of growing mobility pains in the urban territories, nomadism describes the possibility for the modern urban workers to carry with them their essential objects (be it work object but also personal belongings) and live their professional and personnal lives on different territories. Thanks to nomadism the very definition of “territory” vanishes. The word “territory” becomes more tightly linked to an abstract time-space definition than to a strict geographical space.

Why a territory is not a geographical definition anymore

Nomadism is originally defined in terms of territory (see above). Today people are living in more abstract territories: there are at first a personal territory (also called the “private sphere”) and a professional territory (what you do and who you are at work). They in turn define the two personalities we have to cope with and the continuum that has been created between the two. Forty years ago there was a clear separation between one’s professional and personal lives. Nowadays the frontier is blurred everything is figuratively and literally interconnected.

Objects carried from one territory to the other

This has for consequence (or perhaps for cause) that objects previously belonging to one territory in particular are now “percolating” in the other one. We carry our phones, smartphones, laptop and tablets from work into the house and are connected permanently. This is an obvious trend. Yet, what is less obvious and which we’d like to stress in this article, is that objects are also travelling the other way around.

Whereas personal objects at the workplace were limited in the past to a framed family picture, flexible work spaces have abolished the possibility to personalize the workplace with such objects.


We are now carrying everything back and forth and personal objects are also increasingly invading the professional space. These objects have however to adapt to the mobility constraints which opens up a market for companies which will reinvent those objects and will also rethink new usage. We will shortly deal with one very clever example which we found in France.

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Author: Pierre-Nicolas Schwab

Dr. Pierre-Nicolas Schwab is the founder of IntoTheMinds. He specializes in e-commerce, retail and logistics. He is also a research fellow in the marketing department of the Free University of Brussels and acts as a coach for several startups and public organizations. He holds a PhD in Marketing, a MBA in Finance, and a MSc in Chemistry. He can be contacted by email, Linkedin or by phone (+32 486 42 79 42)

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