Hot Stuff

Millions of people: How do you get to them? Endless opportunities: How do you take advantage of them?

It used to be that the ubiquitous "hot lists" were more hype than hot. But these days, who needs hype? Sure, the hype is full-blown and millennium-powered. But for once, the pure reality is many degrees hotter than the hype.

Consider one of our hottest trends, e-commerce. What can we say about e-commerce that isn't surpassed by the technological miracles we see daily? While much of the furor over the year 2000 is egocentric vapor, the Internet will prove to be our rock-solid legacy. It's our version 2.0 of the Industrial Revolution, with one major improvement: The revolutionaries aren't factory-running capitalists-they're entrepreneurs running corporations from their desktops. E-commerce isn't merely hot; it's history in the making.

Simultaneously, the eve of 2000 finds us hitting a high note in consumerism. Drunk with the fruits of a strong economy, many people have more money than ever before and are itching to spend it. To better determine what's hot to the all-important consumer, we examined this year's trends according to demographic groups. And we found these groups are more than the sum of their catchy monikers-Generation Xers, tweens and the like are savvy consumers and major economic drivers.

Consider the hottest of today's markets: teenagers. Proving the power of their opinion and their pockets, if not judgments, they handed the Backstreet Boys the highest first-week album sales by any artist . ever. Their fanatical approach to consumerism has everyone from Hollywood moguls to Madison Avenue veterans squealing like 14-year-olds at a Britney Spears concert. Today's teens have Internet access, credit card authority and an overwhelming desire to spend, spend, spend. The last time a market generated this much heat, we were just becoming acquainted with the term "baby boomers." Now cutting-edge entrepreneurs are saying goodbye, BMW; hello, WB.

In addition, we've selected a number of nonage-discriminatory markets or life situations (for example, people who are stressed for time) that hot businesses will be operating in or selling products and services to-and show that when trends and markets collide, hot businesses are born. We've pinpointed 15 hot businesses for 2000-some traditional, some futuristic, each with undeniable potential.

Sure, you may be tired of all things hot. But this is not your father's popularity contest, nor your mother's "in" and "out" list. This is the beginning of the new economy as we know it. So before you take one more step toward the future, read this, our most important "hot" list to date.

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This article was originally published in the December 1999 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Hot Stuff.

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