Reaching through the crystal ball
What will society look like in 2015 and what can a product and service provider do now to prepare for such an unknown place? These are the twin challenges that this paper seeks to address. Developing scenarios and futures processes (looking through a crystal ball) are often regarded as time-consuming, especially in fast-moving markets where there is relatively rapid turnover of product propositions. But, as we will show, there can be value in 'light touch' scenarios, when handled with care, to help people think creatively, and constructively, about the future of their markets. Our paper is based on work conducted in 2007 for Affinion International to develop a view of what future society might look like and start to formulate a business strategy to prepare for it. Some of the questions our paper will seek to answer include: In a world where consumer choice is exploding exponentially and the lifestyle choices available are becoming more diverse, how are businesses to respond? What demands will a 'Global Embracer' make of their suppliers? How will 'Gated Villagers' select who they will do business with in order to help them achieve the very best choice? And how will suppliers need to adjust in order to address these and other changing and increasing needs? This paper will present four different scenarios of how consumers in 2015 might adapt to and engage with the world around them and show how product and service companies can reach through the crystal ball to respond today to tomorrow's needs.
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