We are a society entrenched in pessimism, compounded by a lack of leadership and lack of trust. The future requires long-term goals and forward thinking. We need to aim forward and work backwards. This is what was proposed at the LS:N Future Laboratory Trend Briefing Event.
The Royal Academy of Arts theatre set the stage for the event, a centre celebrating curated Creative at its best. Echoing its surroundings, the speakers Chris Sanderson and Martin Raymond looked to the future and how we can overcome the Paralysis Paradox. Joanne Merecido, Head of Group Marketing and Business Development, discusses her key takeaways from the event.
Pessimism and the danger of nostalgia
Often it is the case that nostalgia can be a good thing. In advertising, research shows that consumers part with their money more quickly when it comes to nostalgia as it provides ‘quick fix happiness’. However, societally nostalgia fetishism, as the LS:N speakers call it, becomes counterproductive. When we look back, we think of the roaring 20s, the economic boom of the 1980s which saw unemployment drop from 3 million to 1.6 million by the end of 1989 – but in fetishizing the past we make it hard for people to imagine what the future could be. According to the Pew Research Centre, when asked who thinks that when children of today grow up, will they be worse off than their parents – 64% said worse.
So, where does there need to be change?
Leadership of the future: C-Suite Saviours
In a time when leadership is lacking, the onus is on businesses not governments to make the change, with 77% of global responses from the Edelman Trust Barometer believing that businesses and not governments should be improving societal issues. For these business changes to happen, the drive needs to come from leadership.
But, as the LS:N team argues, leadership needs a re-think – we need to consider the L-Suite. Traditionally C-suite roles have been critical to running the commerciality, brand and technology of a company, but we are living as polarised populations that are losing societal commonality – and there are other key roles in a business that need to address this. For long term change, the recommendation was to look at a Chief Trust Officer, Head of Betterment or Chief Vision Officer. These roles look much further into the future to gain long-, not short-term returns for the business.
And, importantly, they suggest that businesses should be facilitating a consumer’s ability to solve problems – not just buy more stuff.
The future consumer: we need to think future and plan backwards
The future consumer is changing; ‘zalphers’ as the team at LS:N like to call them, are more complex and knowledgeable than their gen predecessors. They are a generation of collectiveness, and while you shouldn’t throw away your personas or segmentation strategy just yet, there is a need to understand their collective mindset. This, they argue, has accelerated due to the pandemic which saw zalphers creating online collective communities with shared values and ideas for the future.
Activating desirable futures
Pessimism overrules, and short-sightedness is detrimental to consumers. We need to be looking much further into the future, with key leadership roles that can look at plan A and plan B and activate the right vision for the future long-term at L-suite level.
Behavioural change in consumers has dramatically changed over the pandemic, but as shoppers reach convenience fatigue and new collective behaviours emerge, brands and businesses alike need to be prepared to pivot into new strategies.