6 Key Takeaways From PSFK’s CXI 2018 Conference

6 Key Takeaways From PSFK’s CXI 2018 Conference
Design

Speakers at PSFK's conference on May 18 left the audience with food for thought, motivating listeners to shake up their own industries with pivotal insights on the consumer experience

Catherine Ollinger
  • 24 may 2018

PSFK’s annual conference brought together key trends through talks and activations from pioneers at renowned and rising companies across industries. While insights abounded concerning how today’s movers and shakers are driving new and improved ways to create, communicate and consume, there were a few stand-outs that resonated with PSFK’s focus in particular. Here are six takeaways from this year’s Consumer Experience Innovation event:

1. Technology needs to give us time, not take it

“Technology shouldn’t require all of our attention, just some of it—and only when necessary.” 

trends psfk.com

Calm Technology was the subject of Amber Case‘s talk, which highlighted the increasing need for devices that are minimally invasive and optimally helpful. Amber has spent her career, which includes fellowships at MIT and Harvard, studying how humans and machines interact, and now she aims to inform people on how to make technology that serves humanity without overwhelming us. As she emphasized, technology is most helpful when it’s present but unnoticed or when it remains in users’ ambient awareness. Amber underscored the idea that technology can communicate but doesn’t need to speak, cluttering people’s lives with too many options, information and stimuli. Instead, it should be subtly integrated into our homes and devices using lights, tones, haptics and touch, waiting patiently at the ready for users to activate it. Otherwise, as Amber underscored, our scarcest resource won’t be time—it will be our attention.

2. Ignoring demographics and applying cross-generational themes is more profitable

“Do we think that passion ages out?”

David Stewart of Ageist brought up some of the stigmas  and career impediments that the working population over 50 has to contend with. David emphasized that the media often paints this demographic out of the picture, either infantilizing or medicalizing them, or omitting them from the narrative entirely, leaving the 50+ group—who often feel in the prime of their careers—without resources or community and also leaving younger workers without examples to draw inspiration from. This is why David and his website are dedicated to publishing stories that showcase inspiring people aged 50 and up across various industries, intending to generate a community around this content, which can in turn generate commerce, making a place for people who are living longer and livelier as they continue to pursue their passions into later decades.

3. Brands should only be able to advertise when they earn the right to

“Brands need to stop advertising and start building.”

James Cooper, head of creative at Betaworks, let the audience in on an insight of his: now that building tech is cool, “being a builder is the best way to market yourself to this new audience.” He ran through a list of brands that are succeeding in advertising because they’re building—think Elon Musk’s rocket launch and Domino’s Pizza’s often silly but attention-grabbing gadgets. James urged businesses to create products and services that speak for themselves and forge communities in which innovation can take root and grow. The new Betaworks Studios, which James described as the “Soho House for nerds,” aims to provide the space and resources necessary for builders to connect, reinforcing the age-old adage, “Build it, and they will come.”

4. Brands need to have a plan to save the world 

“We are blissfully unaware of the mess we make.”

Jordan Schenck of Impossible Foods rocked the audience with her three truths of eating food: “1) We are blissfully unaware of the mess we make. 2) A picture of your food is more important than the brand on your shoes. 3) Americans will put most anything in their mouths at least once.” With these statements, Jordan cheekily summarized the huge impact of food on society, underscoring that while certain food-related practices like animal farming are having devastating effects on the climate, forests and overall quality of life for all beings on the planet, the influence of food simultaneously provides an opportunity to effect change for these issues.

Considering the shareability of food via social media as well as people’s growing access and subsequent curiosity to try new things, Jordan left the audience feeling hopeful that innovators like Impossible Foods have the perfect opportunity to marshal the influence of food to create and successfully market plant-based and eco-friendly foods.

5. A mainstream belief in trends will lead to a better future for everyone

“I’m really interested in democratizing the future, democratizing access to the future.”

Devon Powers, a professor at Temple’s Klein College of Media and Communication, is writing a book on the trends industry, interviewing people like our audience members who spend their days looking toward the future. After sharing her journey of delving into trends and futurism with an outsider’s perspective, she proposed a reframing: what if we treated trends like tech? Which is to say, trends could play a role in solving our biggest social, political and cultural problems. Another point from her research is that the trends industry has a lot of work to do in terms of diversifying—unsurprisingly, most of Devon’s interview subjects fit the white, urban, college educated demographic. She left us with a few big things to consider: public futures, democratic futures and intersectional futures.

6. What people do is who they are. Brands should think incessantly about this

“Work should give you cachet. Like the music you listen to or the brands you wear, it should mean something.”

Michael Lastoria, co-founder of &pizza, closed the show by underscoring the importance of work that is fulfilling as well as influential, raising awareness and fighting for causes that employees are passionate about. Michael told the audience, “Our establishment is a case study of a company that cares about its workers, the community and actually gives a damn,” and went on to emphasize the responsibility of employers and those in charge to provide opportunity and support to those below them, rather than placing the entire burden of effecting change on grassroots movements. Michael, like many other speakers of the day, articulated the key need for supportive communities in any venture, from starting a business, to combatting ageism, to fighting climate change, to supporting causes we believe in.

Keep following PSFK for videos and more insights from the day.


Images: Mathias Wasik

PSFK’s annual conference brought together key trends through talks and activations from pioneers at renowned and rising companies across industries. While insights abounded concerning how today’s movers and shakers are driving new and improved ways to create, communicate and consume, there were a few stand-outs that resonated with PSFK’s focus in particular. Here are six takeaways from this year’s Consumer Experience Innovation event:

+apparel
+Automotive
+Brand Introduction
+Community
+Conference
+CXI 2018
+Design
+Fashion
+Food
+home
+Innovation
+Market Research
+Media & Publishing
+middle east
+Music
+product experience
+retail
+technology
+USA
+work

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