Towards the end of this decade, the The Future Consumer’s of the world will start to build influence and take a formal step forward in society as they enter the adult world as voting citizens, money earning consumers and digital employees. Their choices in life will start to influence the priorities of governments, the cultural & technology choices of employing organizations and the strategies of consumer brands.
While the technology gap to this The Future Consumer may appear to be vast, it is important to remember that his generation is still human, so human nature will prevail. Like their tech heroes, they believe that technology alone is not the solution. When introducing the iPad 2, Steve Jobs summarized his vision as “It is in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough—it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the results that make our heart sing.” Which embraces the idea that technology needs to be a non-intrusive enabler of humanity, free of the complexity and adoption barriers of yesterday’s technology.
Things The Future Consumer will likely never do
- Check their (physical) mailbox
- Look up a number in the yellow pages
- Read the encyclopedia britannica
- Visit a video store
Understanding The Future Consumer’s can be stripped back to a few human elements, which are and will continue to be the core human nature of a generation:
Transparency is the new Green
In a world where information is freely available, anytime, anywhere. Nothing can remain in the shadows of secrecy and complexity. The acts of Assange and Snowden, whether they are right or wrong, are seen as positive in the eyes of The Future Consumer, as transparency brings understanding. Transparency is core value of this generation, and they will pursue it like previous generations pursued women’s rights, the green movement and gay marriage. And sometimes this will be pursued at the cost of privacy.
With transparency brings an element of trust. When we believe that everyone, including companies wear their true values on their sleeve, we can instinctively trust that the greater technologically enabled society has driven their identity to an authentic position. The collective digital society will over time, call into question the authenticity of us all, and if you are hiding something, society will bring it into the light and make you accountable for it. This is immensely powerful, as our default position shifts from apprehension and self-protection to trust.
The mobile phone is one of the most important inventions in digital mankind, as it binds us together through a digital nervous system that allows us to tap the collective wisdom of society and build communities in all contexts, whether your rich or poor, in the United States or Uganda. Understanding this allows us to embrace the potential of the system to create truly enriching utilities that fit into the pocket of every human on this planet. It could be financial inclusion, access to health communities, or the latest version of Angry Birds. Either way, those that thrive in the mobile world will create value free of physicality. Thus stressing the importance of technology inclusion, a mission that The Gates Foundation, Grameen, and Google have been extremely proactive in over the past few years.
These may sound like grand ideas, but you’ll notice they give very little reference to technology. Which is important, as it highlights the human thread that we all share. We are all human, and human nature will prevail even in a technological driven world. The lesson for the broader society here is to understand and embrace new technology advancements as enhancements to our human nature, not as new levels complexity.
Take the time to understand and observe the The Future Consumer’s of the world, they have a few lessons to teach us all.
Digital consumers have access to more information than ever before, and it’s right at their fingertips. As a business, this can be a blessing or a curse.
Forget about competing purely on price; there are much more subtle factors at play throughout the marketplace, from retail to finance and even politics.
Connecting with consumers and employees in a way that resonates with them is a battle where the parameters are constantly changing. So how can you make your brand stand out for all the right reasons?
The Future Consumer is a CITIZEN First and CONSUMER Second
In our everyday lives there are three main roles we play: consumers, citizens and employees.
We can define consumers, on a basic level, as people who want something and will do what is needed to get it with very little regard for others in the process. Their priority is to get the best deal for themselves in the marketplace. They act in their own self-interest, not as a moral agent. This kind of buyer is relatively straightforward for companies to understand and entice since their decision-making is quite superficial.
Citizens, however, act with a greater sense of morality and ethics. They care about the impact their decisions will have on others. And because digital information is now so widely available, it’s easier than ever for citizens to make informed choices.
Citizens accept that they have some responsibility when it comes to fixing society’s problems whereas consumers turn a blind eye or expect someone else to deal with them.
Until recently, most buyers typically kept morals out of their purchasing decisions. But we’re now seeing these roles – and the mindsets behind them – beginning to merge. Businesses must also adopt a citizen mindset if they want to stay relevant.