PSFK had the pleasure to attend the Meaningful Consumption conference, held at Base Camp, Copenhagen, on October 3, organised by the Copenhagen Institure for Futures Studies (CIFS) and Kjaer Global….
The conference, with an attendance of roughly 300, was chaired by
Adam Hill of Brand X. During the conference, the audience was able to
vote for a few questions via SMS.
Adam Hill, Brand X ,
led through the conference. His underlying message: consumers want
products that make sense. Sounds trivial, but in fact there’s quite a
lot to it.
Axel Olesen, CIFS, made a
plea for empathic leadership. It is a prerequisite for an innovative
environment, which itself is the Western hemispheres’ advantage over
other economies in the near future. recommended reading: Creative Man.
Then, Anne Lise Kjaer, Kjaer Global,took
us through her categorisation of individuals She calls them generation
“E”, because all consumers are emotionally led by several factors that
start with “e”, such as “Emotion”, “Empathy”, etc.
Tom Greatrex, Marvin Wilkinson, Anterior Insight,
argued that even in the premium or luxury sectors, consumption is
shifting from “value” to “values”. You can’t be vulgar with money. It
is for instance much easier to find fulfilment in meaningful purchases,
whether eco-friendly products, or eco-tourism.
Before lunch, Henrik Boserup, Danish Master Chef,
pleaded for good food. It is worthwhile spending more money on food
that is healthy. It is easy to cook simple, yet nourishing and tasty.
Start with the food, and as a consumer, you’ll apply same rules for
most other thing you consume.
Kate Ancketill of GDR Creative Intelligence Agency
then talked about lifestyle portals. In this case, not online portals,
but about physical stores which are much more than plain selling items
- there’s also the context. She classifies portals into four
categories, for example unbranded bohemian stores where there’s still
as strong brand behind, or technological advances such as interactive
holoprojections of lingerie models. Kate gave plenty of examples of
Rohit Talwar of Fast Future Ventures then
gave a talk focussing on present consumption and sustainability. It is
up to corporations to toady think about tomorrows consumption. there’s
a strong time component, which includes understanding shifting customer
requirements. Rohit also reminded us of the majority of the population
that is not as well off: what is meaningful consumption for the 2bn
people around the world that subside on less than $2 per day?
Prof. James Woudhuysen finally added an alternative view on
things, for example by suggesting that it might be worthwhile for
companies to get standardised basics to work at all before offering
customised experiences. Happiness is a by-product of what you do. Or,
that fear and guilt sometimes are the driving force.
There is an expanded transcript of speakers’ presentations further down.
As a summary, it was a indeed a meaningful conference. It opened new
horizons and probably introduced the audience – mostly marketing or
creative people – to alternative, yet relevant issues and provided food
The venue itself, a disused industrial building, was excellent, with
loads of space, yet still compact. The only positively negative effect
was the fact that Henrik Boserup (the Chef) was talking about food
right before lunch, and that wonderful smells were making their way
from the kitchen to the audience. I guess most participants only had
one thought in mind at that point.
Last but not least, a big thank you to CIFS (Trine Sörensen) and
Anne Lise Kjaer for letting PSFK participate. Hope to see you again
Transcript of the conference
Intro: Adam Hill, director, Brand X Intro
It’s about authenticity. Companies must create products, and use arguments that make sense to the consumer. “We must be able as marketers to come up with something more meaningful”.
The Empathic Leadership, Axel Olesen, Managing Director CIFS
Axel argued that it is, for a leader, important to undertand people’s emotions and feelings. this understanding is the foundation of any research into the future.
Empathy is a requirement. The pace of change today is much higher: the likelihood of companies losing their leadership position within ten years is three times higher than in the seventies. A CEO’s “lifespan” is much shorter than before.
As a result, one might understand a person today, but won’t understand that same person tomorrow. It is necessary to comprehend the constant change that is happenning.
In order to be able to cope with population development, the working age will – in theory – be raised to 76. Perhaps we will want to work that long. Perhaps there will be products that will cater to active older people. It will become more important and more difficult to understand people in the future.
Innovation is a necessity for the western world to survive. Empathy is necessary to have an innovative environment. Companies are “brainwashing institutions”. Learn from new employees before they are brainwashed. Hire people you don’t like.
If you want to be innovative, you need controlled chaos. Employees like to identify themselves with projects (the product they are working on) rather than the company itself.
Western Society is evolving into “Creative Man”, where individuals achieve fulfilment by participating and creating – rather than dreaming, as before. A Creative Man leader needs much empathy. Because it is too difficult to be empathic for every single employee, leaders must be facilitators.
The Empowerment Generation, Anne Lise Kjaer, Founder & Director, Kjaer global
Einstein said: it is possible to explain everything scientifically but it is not necessary. A Beethoven concert is not a variation of wave pressure. In other words, explaining trends, or analysing customers goes beyond mere numbers; emotions must be considered as they are critical in our choice of products. or lifestyle.
Anne Lise divides us into four emotional consumer types (every individual can be part of all types): Rational hunters, emotional hunters, rational gatherers, emotional gatherers.
We are the Generation “E”. Any of the four types is driven by it’s own set of E’s, such as: Empathy, Emotion, entertaining, Enganing, Educational, Emotive, expressionary, Eternal, Enlightening, Esoteric etc.
The biggest trend is contrast, polarisation. We live now, we want to consume now. But we also think about the future. Meaningful consumption is for manifacturers to consider polarisation in their offerings. Quality of life. Services, product design.
Rational hunters design their lives, using 36 hours stay awake pills, control their fitness programme through machines.
A rational gatherer is an educated consumer
The emotional gatherer (rare type) pays attention to detail. Takes out time to study. The pursuit of happiness, philanthropy, personal expression.
The Emotional hunter: spiritualy corners in the house – spiritual art, inspiration, informed kids, “transgenic tombstones”.
What is emotional consumption? Adding meaning to products
Tom Greatrex, Marvin Wilkinson, Anterior Insight, London.
There are many High Net worth individuals, including BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) and they are getting bored.
It’s now more about meaningful consumption. It’s less about value mut more about values. Less about spending, more about learning and giving. Less about customisation more about uniqueness.
Its no longer acceptable to be vulgar with money.
“Blinglash” – backlash of the ‘bling’. People are looking for tangible benefits rather than packaging.
Example: wine consumption. People understand what is inside rather than just reading the label. “Wine areas” in supermarkets recreate the look&feel of cellars.
People are becoming experts and are opinionated. They want to differentiate themselves in a substantial way (eg culture consumption). Most adults want happiness. People “curate”, they collect things. They want to buy “meaningful experiences”. Experential luxury: products must have life enhancing qualitites.
People are looking for “meaningful experiences” as a holiday – rewarding experiences. For example eco-friendly, or eco-aware stays. “Glamping” glamorous camping.
“One size fits all” doesn’t apply anymore. Experience and knowledge are key. Quality and value of service matters. Education, knowledge, discernment and innovation, return to storytelling. Ethical, social, enrivonmental aspects matter.
Resust: Better listen to consumers rather than telling them what to do. Consumer debate must happen at all levels.
Henrik Boserup – Use your senses!
Simple cooking: Think about “what am I cooking, for whom am I cooking”.
Kids need vitamins, minerals. Food for them has to be the best. There is a challenge to find the right and best food. Choice today is more important. Tapas is popular because it allows you to pick and mix.
Shopping list. Example: tomatoes: there are 10 different types of tomatoes, so you go for the cheapest. The cheapest look best but will taste worse. Better, but wrinkled tomatoes are more expensive. Which are the more expensive? The cheaper ones. They have no minerals. It takes fewer expensive tomatoes to make a better tasting tomato soup.
Discounters offer the wrong products and should assume reponsibility for what they sell. One reason we are becoming fat is that food is poor in ingredients, and we must eat more to conpensate.
Therefore, everyone should become responsible for their own lives, become their own chefs. You usually get the best petrol (gas) for your car and give it the best service. Do this with yourself too!
Marketing should take notice: consumers will ask for responsible products.
It is not meaningful to consume fast: buy and throw away. Quality matters throughout the production process.
Tip for home: use olive oil, salt and lemon. Red good meat, because enzymes are preserved and help digestion.
The product must be simple. The more wrapping the more sh*t it is!
GDR Creative Intelligence Kate Ancketill, Managing Director: Empathic Spaces & Future Theming
Kate introduced us to Lifestyle portals. A lifestyle portal – not in the web sense – but as in physical stores. They aren’t just shops anymore.
Our space is your space: partially hand over bnrand space to the consumer for their freedom to use. Results in a greater level of connection.
Rebellion: stores of the future will react to lack of trust in global companies
Emotional manipulation through technology: Using technology to interact with brand / increase sales
Thought and Meaning in a Global Context – Rohit Talwar, Fast Future Ventures Ltd.
Rohit helps clients consider a future where options are different today. Today’s decisions have an affect on the future environment . Are we taking options away or do we create options?
Questions to clients:
“What would you do if you had all you wanted today?”
“How do ensure the same level of resources will be there for the next generation?”
Framework: advances in technology, economy shifts, ecological changes. We must creat time and space to think about these changes. 60% of all consumption will be pointless in 10 years time.
Time to think back: what was it like 30 years ago? (mobile phones, WWW, etc.)
First step: use “autosummarise” in word. Take a document you’ve written and run autosummarise. Workflow in offices (software) is inefficient, as we are not trained to use it. There’s plenty of potential.
What does meaningful consumption mean for the 2bn people who earn less than $2 per day?
“Companies that are not adequately managing the consequenses of climate change on their business will not be welcomed in the future.” (Rick Murray Swiss Re)
Fundamental shift in the way companies work: the “al qaeda model” successfuly organisation, interchangeable staff. Chaotic, innovative, low-tech etc. Efficient.
Example: Infosys, India. Starting point: “no idea” – infosys keeps being reinvented. No employee knows what next year is going to be like.
What would you do if your core product became “free”?
Places like Dubai are driving innovation (undersea hotel). Countries that are not driven by legacy thinking.
Trends: Memory downloads (like “end of days”). Ageing, or rather anti-ageing (“what do you buy your partner for her 234th birthday).
Prof. James Woudhuysen
What is an experience? Look behind the blurb and think; using Coke Fridge example (“what is the experience here?”.
Mobile phones: lifestyle goes over quality. Poor service sensations equal negative experience. “One size fits all” is not a bad thing if it works!
You can’t achieve happiness by measuring it. it is a byproduct of what you do. A meaningful experience is changing the world, doing something good. Consumption is basic and we share with animals (“eat and excrete”).
Ask yourselves: is the experience meaningful?
Be realistic. Guilt and fear of energy use create bad quality time. Only achievements give meaning and happiness.
The quality of a product is important – emotional and physical.
Fear is – along with guilt- the main way we feel about a product (Sony battery recall).
The emotional dimension of energy: congestion charge in London. Makes you feel bad about driving a car in town.
We need an aware approauch to what innovation can do. It is not necessary right to “tax evil” out of existence. Rather, encourage innovation that is “good” (eg cars with good fuel economy).
Productivity depends on innovation.
“The experience economy”: we want to return being a child, become more infantile.
Experience: work on the basics first (wifi in the conference hall?) Then work on the emotions.
“Doing it is its own reward”
“I would like a bit of functionality please”
“David Beckham cannot provide meaning”
Experience has objective sides: strength, durability, price.
Don’t deliver quality time and it leads to “customer time”.
Example: google developed our talent to search. We are more clever about how we search.
Critical attitude: do not offer condescending experience if service is lacking.
Do follow what is happening with gambling, sport, computer games – experiences.
Do not patronise adults and older people in your marketing.
In a world of play, what about serious, adult contact? It’s not
The users experience embraces rational elements.
Users don’t just need experiences, they have talent for quality achievements!