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Start Imagining the Future. Leading the Way in a Changing World. Consumer Trends for The Future
Article from the book There’s a Future: Visions for a Better World

Imagining the Future. Leading the Way in a Changing World. Consumer Trends for The Future

Estimated reading time Time 23 to read

In my line of work it is well known that the future is not just somewhere you go: you create it. This means that governments, companies and individuals play an active part in determining the direction of society, through their actions and choices. Yet there is no doubt that today we face a particularly tough set of challenges. As the quantity of information at our fingertips increases, keeping up with analysis, pattern spotting and extracting useful information becomes even more crucial. With data overload everywhere in our daily lives, we need a system that talks back to us and enables us to make informed decisions — a sense-making platform that integrates data and insights to provide both information and inspiration. Over the past 20 years, I have developed tools and approaches for trends management that help companies and organisations determine the way ahead. The Trend Atlas is our trends filter, containing the building blocks for future mapping. It reveals the multiple layers — the scientific, social, emotional and spiritual dimensions that impact our everyday life — and we use it to decode the cultural contexts of society. While traditional P-E-S-T-E-L analysis only looks at part of the equation, this model documents the whole picture, giving a panoramic view of the future. In short, a Trend Atlas is a GPS for navigating complexity.

The evolution of consumption and “the evolution of consumption and “enoughism”

Reading today’s Trend Atlas, it is clear that our century-long “love affair” with economic growth hasn’t delivered more happiness. This is why people are looking elsewhere for new models and asking: How can I get more out of life? When we look back on human history and see how societies have evolved and developed, it has not been a nice even curve of constant progress, but rather, a bumpy journey of lessons to be learned. Keynes predicted that by 2030 economic growth in the developed world would, in effect, have stopped, because people would “have enough” to lead the Good Life. But the question is: Who sets the measure of what is enough? Our reality is that media constantly bombards us with contradictory messages. One day: “Small is Beautiful” and the next: “Big is Better.” And when we hear the call to: “spend, spend, spend”, it becomes all too easy to confuse the Good Life with a Goods Life.

There is a global consensus that one of the main challenges is that of over-consumption. In the Western world, “to consume or not to consume” has become today’s big ethical dilemma — one that seems to unite us but at the same time divide the haves and have-nots.

Since the Industrial Revolution, we have been urbanising at an exponential rate. Only 150 years ago, we consumed 26 times less than we do today. We have now reached a negative tipping point, where unsustainable lifestyle patterns are impacting and affecting us in both a global and local context. In The Economics of Enough: How to Run the Economy as if the Future Matters, Diane Coyle says: “Many would argue that our relentless pursuit of higher economic growth, indicated through GDP statistics, is at the heart of our current dire circumstances.”

New Models are Needed

So how can we mend the imbalance created by over-consumption and deliver a positive future legacy? Business models that embrace a system based on consumption alone are obsolete. It is crucial to evolve from a production-focused MEconomy to a WEconomy, founded on shared responsibility. This means engaging the State, companies, communities and citizens and — with calls for a more inclusive society — we must face up to the fact that just owning more is not a sustainable route to a better future. When politicians say that it is our “duty” to go shopping to keep the economy going, we are justified in asking ourselves: Is consumption our sole reason for existence? As Joseph E. Stiglitz and Amartya Sen observed in their report, Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress: “Those attempting to guide the economy and our societies are like pilots trying to steer a course without a reliable compass.”

Thankfully, we are starting to see a subtle shift in culture, a move towards a more transparent, sustainable and, most importantly, meaningful model where people actively consider how to achieve the Good Life. It is, therefore, hardly surprising that people now call for companies to demonstrate that they really do care and demand these attributes in everything from government policies to products and services.

According to the Meaningful Brands Index survey of 50 000 consumers globally, only 20 percent of brands are perceived to have a notable positive impact on our sense of well-being and quality of life and — what is more — people would not care if 70 percent of today’s brands ceased to exist. This clearly indicates that it is time to rethink business models in order to match people’s real expectations and their lifestyle universe.

Introducing a “4 P” Bottom Line

I believe that, in order to develop a more sustainable future, a 4 P bottom line, where People, Planet, Pleasure and then Profit are guiding principles, must underpin twenty-first-century business models. Most people can agree with this principle and aim to lead more sustainable lives, but our “Always On” society encourages a culture of constant consumption.

The future is not just somewhere you go: you create it. This means that governments, companies and individuals play an active part in determining the direction of society, through their actions and choices.

Contrasts will always co-exist, and this presents additional challenges for organisations. Consumers and citizens demand, on the one hand, transparency and ethics, and on the other, more choice and discounts. To balance these contrasting demands requires “whole brain” thinking. A left-brain outlook of analysis and detail paired with a right-brain ability to imagine and see the bigger picture are vital dynamics that must come together to enable organisations to think from the outside in.

What is more, a growing, so-called hyper-connected, middle class globally is aspiring to more and better, demanding instant access and gratification. This creates a tough set of choices for all of us as consumers: Disposable versus Sustainable, Fast versus Slow. And yes, it is rather complicated to work out how to strike a happy balance, but one thing is certain — you can’t solve a problem with the same mindset that created it.

The real opportunity for companies is to become trusted exponents of Good Life choices, delivering them to people in a straightforward package and enabling them make the right decisions without even thinking about it. The ideal solution must be easy and sustainable at no extra cost. A global P&G consumer survey bears this out, showing that currently, 70 percent of people want to live a greener life but they don’t want to be penalised. However, people’s priorities and values are set to shift dramatically in years to come. So investing in a 4 P scenario now is not only crucial for the planet and to attract talent, but it also makes good business sense. Governments and companies pioneering this approach are seeing huge benefits and this is already influencing how we do business, as well as shaping policy in fresh ways. Put simply, profit has to be calculated in an inclusive manner to ensure positive outcomes and rebuild people’s trust in business and government.

Tomorrow’s key society drivers

When we look ahead, success will depend on empathic leadership, where governments, institutions and brands all act as facilitators, enabling people to achieve a more fulfilling life through open dialogues about sound ethics and meaningful lifestyle choices. According to a White Paper from The Luxury Institute, building a caring company culture will enhance your own life experience and transform you from just another business executive into a happy and thriving human with a far greater purpose than the pursuit of money. Ironically, sales and profits will follow. By taking this approach, leaders demonstrate that they are heading an empowerment organisation that practises rather than just preaches values.

This requires vision, but also an understanding of both key society drivers and the mindsets of the people organisations want to invite into their universe. The first stage of this process is to step outside the corporate or government box to understand people’s culture and how they see you. Only then can you effect positive changes and innovation. It is therefore meaningful to explore some of the Key Society Drivers and disruptive forces impacting today’s lifestyle choices, as well as to link them to people’s value sets. Not only do they provide us with a profound insight into tomorrow’s consumer mindsets, but they also identify both business challenges and opportunities. In the section that follows, I have mapped out the key drivers from the Trend Atlas that will affect society, brands and people now and in decades to come — think of them as Future Sound Bites. While we often tend to talk about trends individually, it is important to understand that they are, in reality, all interconnected.

Total Transparency & Trust

Society & Business: In future, organisations will have to work harder to be noticed and trusted, earning this continuously through openness, consistent performance and total transparency. Research has also shown that the more transparent you are, the more people are willing to forgive if mistakes should happen. With growing online exposure, there is a strong call for credible interactive platforms for mutual stakeholder exchange. Social media is already causing a global paradigm shift, influencing people’s habits and behaviour. This will be a core ingredient in building rewarding, trusting relationships and it requires deep consumer engagement in order to build reputation. An authentic organisation ensures that brand promise and consumer experience are totally aligned with performance. In fact, brands’ very future depends on their accountability and requires a personable and sincere approach, demonstrating respect for and fair use of personal data. One live model of transparency can be seen in Scandinavia, which is — perhaps not coincidentally — also among the top-ranking regions when measuring life satisfaction. Here, e-government is serving citizens and the public sector alike by making a vast amount of information available in a national spatial data infrastructure (NSDI) when needed, while preserving the privacy of the individual.

People: According to Datamonitor, levels of trust in business are low and discerning consumers have proved to be highly ambivalent, questioning business praxis across all sectors. Globally, just 37 percent trust consumer packaged goods companies to tell them the truth. This distrust, paired with people’s increased skill in decoding cultural messages, means that traditional marketing is often met with scepticism. Worse still, trust in brand morals is so precarious that 65 percent of consumers would like to see stricter regulations across the board — from product safety to traceability and retailer pricing. Social networks and platforms allow people to increasingly bypass traditional routes of trade, so brands not delivering on trust issues will face becoming obsolete. Organisations must shape up to meet consumers’ and society’s demands for radical transparency. Adapting to an open and approachable model now — disclosing the good as well as the bad of the organisation’s “value ecosystem” — will earn trust from people and consumers in the future.

Smart Tech & The Internet of Things

Society & Business: Smart Technology and hyper connectivity means we can control all aspects of our lives like never before and this is fundamentally reshaping the way society is operating. Already, technology routinely facilitates our work, shopping and socialising, also informing and enabling efficient control and planning of finances, energy consumption, health and even lifestyle transitions. Within the foreseeable future, more smart devices than traditional computers will be used to access the Internet and this will call for brands to move from being device- and channel-centred to adopting people- and consumer-centred approaches, adapting their messages to multiple devices. Technology insiders have long predicted “true convergence” — this is only the beginning — but it also raises expectations of personalised information and rapid services. Many technology experts, engineers and scientists are more than willing to tell us what technology will be able to do, but this does not tell us what tomorrow will bring. A key issue we face as a society is in acknowledging that what is technologically possible is not necessarily morally acceptable or, indeed, economically viable. Ultimately, the route to maximising the success — and positive benefits — of smart technology and the Internet of Things must be in letting people and society shape their future direction.

People: As physical and virtual borders dissolve, seamless transitions and self-defined boundaries in all areas of life will be the norm. The physical retail store is no longer the core customer universe, with brands expanding onto several platforms. We will see this even more in the future and businesses need to evolve to be where people are. A new generation, raised on the freedom created by technology, social media and sharing, expects convenience alongside lower-cost products and services. Consumers already expect exchange and interaction, with the power balance tipping towards the needs and wants of people, regardless of demography and cultural context. Without doubt, we will see continuing rapid growth of social commerce and other technology-enabled industries. The mobile apps and content sector alone is, according to Gartner, set to grow from $18 billion in 2012 to $61 billion by 2016, while spending on e-books, online news, magazines and information services will rise from $5 billion in 2012 to $16 billion by 2016. This obviously challenges the media sector, while presenting ample opportunities to innovate and create new businesses. Across the board, we will see calls to rethink current industries and distribution models.

Cloud Culture & Open Dialogue

Society & Business: The cloud is one of the biggest game-changers in a world where big data and Master Data Management (MDM) will redefine how we interact. Moving services, applications and storage to clouds fosters agility for both businesses and individuals by putting immense computing power — with vast quantities of information — in easily accessible formats at relatively low cost. However, we risk moving from being digitally enabled to digitally disabled if we do not navigate this space with great care. The online data footprint we all leave behind represents an obvious opportunity for marketers, but it also raises issues of data protection. It is imperative to respect boundaries because mutual exchange of information is the key to maintaining crucial relationships. Organisations will only prosper if they are transparent about how they hold and use data because, for consumers to willingly share information, they need to know the benefits to them. Businesses must deliver immediacy and responsiveness and recognise that we live in a flatter, more democratised world, where access allows individuals to become self-styled experts. As we move away from traditional top-down distribution of knowledge, communication of brand messages is being transformed from one-way storytelling into a dynamic narrative.

People: We are becoming people of the cloud and, with the cloud responding to our pattern of behaviour, this is a world where digital and virtual truly begin to blend. According to McKinsey, 39 percent of companies already use social media as their primary channel to reach customers. With this set to rise to 47 percent over the next four years, people want organisations to engage with them on their terms, developing propositions that enrich their lives. The desire to share and access content on multiple devices will motivate consumers to start storing more than a third of their digital content in the cloud by 2016, according to Gartner. The cloud will then become a virtual extension of people, sparking a culture where anyone can be positioned as a brand. Skills and learning will increasingly be developed through networks and communities, sparking a new kind of entrepreneurship that puts The Good Idea at its core. Amidst all the promises and potential of a digitally enabled future, it is important to realise that people are essentially analogue. While cloud culture allows highly personalised digital products and services at incredible speed, it will still be analogue human touch-points and genuine service that win the loyalty of tomorrow’s consumers and cultivate fertile relationships.

Global Citizens & Cultural Mobility

Society & Business: It is estimated that, by 2050, 70 percent of people will live in cities. But what we are seeing right now is the beginning of a global movement of cultural enrichment, one where mobility reaches new levels. Eighty percent of Millennials and Gen-Y, the main proponents of Global Citizen ideals, have stated in a recent survey that they would like to live abroad, as working internationally is essential to their career plans. Meanwhile, the 50+ segments — the “grey” version — are likely to work longer and to seek new opportunities by engaging in learning, travelling or bridging their career. With their culturally open mindset, Global Citizens are hugely influential and also vital to companies’ future success. They demand new standards in virtually all areas of society and the constant flow of different points of view, passions, and interests they generate are already informing the value sets of tomorrow’s so-called digital natives. Global Citizens are fostering a global collaborative “WE” mindset, as well as being the cohesive factor for tomorrow’s flourishing social networks. Companies must forge new bonds within both the working and social environments that Global Citizens operate in so seamlessly because this group will lead society in exciting new directions.

People: Global Citizens use new technologies as a means of establishing personal interest groups and exploring fresh ideas. They are driven by the desire for opportunities and, rather than being concerned with immediate locality, they view the world as their global network device. Flexible, open-minded and naturally attracted to diversity, they seek enhanced interaction and multi-layered experiences, with technology as the key enabler of cultural exchange, social networks and brand engagement. Future migration is not only influenced by traditional pull factors, such as job opportunities and wage levels, but also by the desire for personal development and improved cultural and political conditions alongside the provision of a “higher level of service”, according to the Copenhagen Institute of Future Studies. This highly mobile citizen is shaping an entirely new future consuming culture. This is a reality where the emphasis will be on access over ownership, as they prefer facilitation over “more stuff”. Younger Global Citizens are particularly attuned to sustainability issues and expect goods to be produced and delivered responsibly.

Rising Economies & A New Middle Class

Society & Business: Rising Economies are altering economic and geopolitical global balance. As well as shifting manufacturing centres, they bring a fast-growing middle class and, according to McKinsey, by 2025 as many as 50 percent of the world’s population will have joined the so-called consuming classes and annual consumption in rising economies may hit $30 trillion. Information and communication technology (ICT) is playing a central role in economic development and the telecom industry in emergent markets could reach $200 billion by 2013. The great challenge for businesses is to adapt to local contexts because cultural capital and regional heritage are essential components in a flourishing economy of the future. Business must invest in local skills to gain an edge over global competition and resonate with local cultural values. Signs are that this is already happening because, in a recent survey of 100 global corporations conducted by Worldwide ERC, 95 percent of senior executives who responded reported that national cultures play an important or very important role in the success of their business mission. Brilliant business models are never anonymous — they reach out to local communities and enable people to connect across borders — so winners of the future will be the organisations that are agile enough to adapt to Glocalisation.

People: In a recent report called Macroeconomic Foresights, The Futures Company said that: “In developed markets, consumers feel threatened by the loss of status in declining economies. In emerging markets, consumers feel threatened by a relentless push into an unknown future because of rapidly growing economies. In both cases, consumers want reassurance, guidance and encouragement.” Provenance and heritage give brands an edge and people a sense of belonging. Local craft, storytelling and specialties will grow in value as a commodity, in tangent with an emerging need to reconnect to narratives rooted in locality. People will seek out a guide, a familiar anchor, in an increasingly fragmented, mobile and globalised world. New communities or “tribes” will be formed based on shared values and lifestyle sets and there will be a growing emphasis on balancing the need for self-expression and individuality against the WE mindset of the future. By employing global connectivity and social media applications, people can communicate globally, absorbing new regional flavours, sharing knowledge and creating authentic narratives with the potential to change concepts of belonging.

Female Factor & Social Capital

Society & Business: The Female Factor is influencing fresh approaches to collaborating and creating value, at the same time as business is recognising the twenty-first-century imperative to observe a social capital focus. As the World Bank noted: “Social Capital is not just the sum of the institutions which underpin a society — it is the glue that holds them together.” The inclusive mindset of women is more oriented toward the greater good of society, rather than individual gain. This “whole brain” approach goes hand in hand with the idea of a collaborative leadership model where our cultural environment is increasingly made up of dynamic social live networks. This collective value is now being recognised as a measure of companies’ worth as investment vehicles — but there is also increasing evidence that the Female Factor may be the vital catalyst to deliver both economic prosperity and social cohesion. With many organisations looking hard for capable talent to tackle the big challenges ahead, it is worth being reminded that Harvard research has shown that female leaders score highly on delivering better bottom lines. More importantly, their approach also strongly correlates to other key measures of organisational performance, including increased transparency, innovation, well-being and community engagement.

Brilliant business models are never anonymous — they reach out to local communities and enable people to connect across borders — so the winners of the future will be the organisations that are agile enough to adapt to Glocalisation.

People: Not only are women increasingly willing and able to play a major leadership role, but there are now more female graduates than male in Europe. According to Goldman Sachs, “closing the gender gap can drive long-term economic growth — pushing income per capita 14 percent higher than baseline projections by 2020, and as much as 20 percent higher by 2030”. Nurturing a balanced gender culture to inspire the best in people in terms of contribution, innovation and loyalty — while ensuring optimal conditions for their individual happiness — is vital to the future success of our society. The growth in participatory culture, as seen in crowd-sourcing, sharing, volunteering and affinity networks, is the positive measure of people’s desire for meaning and their aspiration to give back and “be better together”. Brands that understand how to leverage the Female Factor to connect and collaborate will thrive. This will be an altogether more human-centred approach based on real relationships, where bricks and mortar retail may well become a vehicle to bring people and communities together in positive experiences — with online retail doing the actual sale.

A Better World & Global Sustainers

Society & Business: Although many economists and politicians still view continuous and rapid growth as the only model going forward, in a Better World scenario, clean tech and conscious consumption sit alongside transparency as a core business strategy for long-term growth. It is believed that business and not government must be the primary driver behind this ecologically intelligent future. In his book, People, Planet, Profit, Peter Fisk argues that business leaders need to rethink fundamental strategic questions like: “why we exist, where to focus, how we are different, and why people will choose our products or services, want to work for us, and invest in our business.” This resonates with the Goodpurpose Study 2012 by Edelman, which shows that 87 percent of global consumers want businesses to place at least equal weight on society’s interests as on business’ interests. In this same survey, less than a third believe current business is addressing societal issues, making this a key differentiator for successful businesses of the future. It seems clear that people and organisations will have to work in synergy to create a positive, equitable future. The CEO of Carrefour Group, Lars Olofsson, has expressed this challenge very well: “We must make the aspirational attainable, the attainable sustainable, and the sustainable affordable.”

People: To consume is fundamental to being human and it provides cultural and social expression. However, as we now consume at a scale that is not sustainable, we need a rethink of this fundamental drive. Notions of status are changing, as we focus more on human connections and experiences and less on consumption and ownership. In this context, we are seeing a trend towards people conducting more or less public experiments in living with less, also challenging others to follow their example. The Share Economy, or collaborative consumption, is a manifestation of this — and this movement is already creating a global economy of its own. It favours access to goods and services over ownership — addressing the growing rejection of consumption through “unconsumption”. However, while frugality may suddenly be a new cool trend, as consumers we are realistic in our Better World aspirations. The Goodpurpose Study by Edelman found that 76 percent of consumers worldwide think it acceptable for brands to support good causes and make money, up from 33 percent in 2008. This suggests that improving our society by practising the Good Life can go hand in hand with delivering on the bottom line.

The Good Life & Happinomics

Society & Business: Economic growth does not necessarily indicate more life satisfaction — or, at the very least, it is not the only thing we should be measuring. Happinomics is flourishing, as many corporations have realised that they can achieve success and change behaviours by encouraging employees to adopt a mindful approach to work and life in general. Besides holding seminars on life satisfaction, the UK Cabinet Office published a paper in 2011 pointing to new policies that could improve the happiness of the nation. With global challenges for traditional growth, plans to measure GDP alongside Gross Domestic Well-being (GDW) have been suggested. A sense of well-being can inspire and enhance “plenty” in many areas — productivity, social connectivity and improved public health — but until we start looking beyond balance sheets, we won’t get an accurate measure of how well society is delivering the Good Life ideals. Perhaps we can learn from the fact that Harvard Business School’s course on positive psychology as the catalyst for change is now oversubscribed and is informing a new generation of business leaders. It seems inevitable that future economic models will be balanced with data measuring happiness levels.

People: As the Dalai Lama has pointed out: “happiness is not something ready made, it comes from our own actions”. Experiences that contribute to the greater good of humanity, the planet and our community are key to people’s search for engaging narratives. Personal well-being is high on the agenda, reflected in both increasing health concerns over diet and lifestyle, and in the boom in life-coaching and personal pampering. While personal well-being and meaning remain key motivators, Happinomics is something much broader. From politics and business to work and lifestyle choices, this is a big-hearted approach and a pivot for innovation of products, services and new disruptive business models. A wide range of influences determine our happiness levels, but recent scientific theory asserts that our genetic make-up is matched 50:50 by other factors. However it comes about, we know happy people live longer and have more productive lives. New business concepts, such as financial coaching and “energy makeovers”, are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to delivering Good Life propositions and experiences that engage people in self-improvement and in building the future society they want to see.

New directions

Living with the growth imperative, encouraged by government and economists, we have lived by the mantra, I consume, therefore I am, for far too long. Increasingly, and especially in the light of a new global financial reality, we are starting to question the logic and values behind our raison d’être.

As we start to challenge the belief that personal happiness is dependent on the consumption of stuff, we look to other models for inspiration on how to restructure a society based on different values. Whichever way we look at the current landscape, it is clear that the Good Life is the overriding driver for the future agenda and the social glue that interlinks all the trends, in one way or another. This presents an obvious challenge for businesses and organisations to rethink their current models and, indeed, their values.

Scenarios for 2030: Creating Opportunity from Crises Through Real Value

In 1962 — the year I was born — Thomas Kuhn’s book Structure of Scientific Revolutions was published. It describes how a crisis often leads to paradigm shifts. Are we witnessing just such a Kuhnian paradigm shift? With prolonged financial turmoil in the West, an impending environmental crisis and a technology revolution that has empowered people in ways previously unimaginable — not to mention the profound changes taking place in the geopolitical arena — there is more than enough to trigger just such a seismic change.

Trend management is a powerful strategic tool because the recognition of patterns provides a framework for future projection, planning and ideation, and combining several drivers can create scenarios for any given sector or answer specific questions about the future. Narrating potential futures requires detailed analysis, paired with the ability to ask the right questions.

Scenario development is the trend analysis’ framework, providing a storytelling platform for narrating meaningful content. Good scenarios have the potential to open minds, changing the perception of both people and businesses in a profound way. You get rid of prejudice and old patterns of thinking by opening and exploring possible future developments; the results are often surprising, enabling you to view the world in an entirely different way. To add life and structure to our scenarios, we link the trends to value sets, creating a Consumer Mindset Map to understand people’s likely behaviour. This tool provides a simple yet holistic understanding of consumers and their lifestyle preferences. All the typologies are relevant as we are not “clean-cut types” but, rather, dynamic individuals switching mode depending on our needs or situation.

Consumer Mindset Maps

So how do the trends affect tomorrow’s people and consumer mindsets? Well, we live in a diverse and polarised society made up of patchwork tribes where people share common lifestyles, preferences and value sets across conventional geographic and demographic borders. This moves us away from traditional consumer analysis and metrics into a more profound and holistic understanding of individuals and groups. In general, society is made up of two contrasting mindsets: ME People — who put themselves at the centre of everything; and WE People — who consider the world and togetherness first.

On a rational level, people demand ease of access, mobility and connectivity to drive their quest for personal empowerment. Facilitation, access and openness are central to connecting with consumers, with interaction happening through technology-driven platforms. The mindset typologies in the rational dimensions are the High Achievers and Happy Bohemes. Their key motivational value drivers are openness and flexibility — and connectivity through honest dialogue.

On an emotional level, people expect sound ethics and social and environmental responsibility within a transparent corporate community. People-centric offerings built around integrity and trust are essential in order for organisations to develop genuine and lasting consumer relationships. The Cultural Explorers and Karma Hunters are the emotional mindset typologies, with a marked preference for real engagement and collaborative communities based on meaning.

Tomorrow’s successful organisations target ME and WE People equally, also ensuring they have strategies for both rational and emotional value chains. This is the way to win both the minds and the hearts of tomorrow’s consumers. To highlight what will matter to people over the next decades, we’ve illustrated four mindset profiles.

Business leaders need to rethink fundamental strategic questions like: “Why do we exist? Where should we focus? How are we different? Why will people choose our products or services, want to work for us, and invest in our business?”.

High Achievers

The Rising Economies are paving the way for enormous growth of a new middle class. These High Achievers are ambitious ME People; individuals with a rational and progressive mindset, truly depending on the power of Cloud Culture as a connective global force. For them, the cloud presents an infinite source of new possibilities. They thrive on and expect “real-time” dialogue and a sense of partnership, building value through mutual exchange of knowledge. Inspire them by offering unique and intelligent experiences with a human touch-point and a sense of personal control and ownership.

Happy Bohemes

Tomorrow’s curious and open-minded Happy Bohemes focus on human relationships. Smart Technology is perceived to be a key enabler and the central management tool, assisting them in all aspects of life. As Global Citizens, they are informed about the world and naturally seek out opportunity in a global context. This often young and very mobile group needs flexible solutions that balance their desire to be recognised as individuals with their fundamental WE-centred mindset. This group want experiences that enable them to focus on social awareness as well as nurturing their sense of digital connectivity.

Global Sustainers

Global Sustainers are proactive and informed, enjoying community participation — real and virtual — and connecting through ideas and new concepts of sharing and authentic togetherness. These emphatic WE People have embraced an inclusive leadership style and the Female Factor as a key driver of a sustainable long view. As would-be influencers, they are attracted to businesses based on ethical principles. Offers that breathe a culture of collaboration — and take a lead in building communities to facilitate a Better World for all — will be inviting and inspiring for this mindset.

Karma Hunters

Karma Hunters are early adopters in redefining concepts of the Good Life and are attracted by brand narratives delivering on the promise of being active in the happiness agenda. To this end, trust is fundamental for a thriving relationship, making Total Transparency central to all communication and strategy. Karma Hunters are intuitive and mindful ME People, constantly reassessing what constitutes a better life. These important shapers of the future are true early proponents of the 4 P business model and engagement through meaningful and value-based experiences will make them vital brand ambassadors.


Relying on traditional measures of growth is not only unsustainable in environmental terms but also in terms of human well-being. So to succeed in the future, it will make sound business sense to start with a strategy of maximising social value and optimising conditions for human happiness within the planet’s capacity, also considering our consumption and production patterns. There is growing evidence that businesses and welfare can thrive on different models, and they must certainly explore options beyond the current unsustainable trajectory.

As we start to challenge the belief that personal happiness is dependent on the consumption of stuff, we look to other models for inspiration on how to restructure a society based on different values. Whichever way we look at the current landscape, it is clear that the Good Life is the overriding driver for the future agenda and the social glue that interlinks all the trends.

There are already the first signs of a shift, with new models of consumption being introduced based around concepts of sharing — including leasing goods, services and access and rewarding people for consuming less or behaving more sustainably. One thing is certain, new collaborative consumption models will be more accessible to all, more convenient, affordable and personalised. This is exciting and allows us to develop new and more positive scenarios for the future.

As our mindsets demonstrate, we are experiencing a paradigm shift where life priorities are already changing for many, with the rest following in the future. Increasingly, people are saying: Don’t tell me, show me! Connecting with others requires empathy and, for businesses, it is about the ability to inspire, empower and facilitate the Good Life. Understand too that people — whether they work for you, use your services or buy your products — have higher standards and more complex decision-making processes than ever before. To deliver on meaningful consumption requires a holistic brand architecture that can deliver authentic goods, services and experiences in all areas of people’s lives.

The measure of a twenty-first-century brand’s true worth and potential is how it engages with the world as a whole. To be a winner, you must implement a 4 P strategy and bottom line. We have talked about People and Planet and how to balance these with the essential P for Pleasure: the meaning and foundations of the Good Life. Focus on balancing the first three and the final P for Profit will follow. The 4 P is not just a communications and marketing strategy, but also a whole new opportunity for thriving as a business through real value and meaning.

To succeed in the future, it will make sound business sense to start with a strategy of maximising social value and optimising conditions for human happiness within the planet’s capacity, also considering our consumption and production patterns.

We are all participants in shaping the future, whether we passively accept the old and unsustainable business-as-usual route or embrace change by implementing new models that deliver brighter futures for society, business, people and the culture in which they operate. I firmly believe that current signs indicate more of us are choosing the latter path. We face huge challenges but, with a positive and open mindset, we can shape a future that brings us much closer to the Good Life ideal.


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