Why we need to prepare today for the consumer of the 2020s

Why we need to prepare today for the consumer of the 2020s

As we approach the 2020s, uncertainty has become the new norm. But imagine that you could catch a glimpse of the future consumer landscape. What would you see? How would everyone react? What would you do differently? Recent research has highlighted three future trends that can help to answer these questions and allow us to understand how organisations are rebooting their consumer propositions to prepare for this uncertainty.

 

The first of these trends is Youthful Nativism, which involves members of Generation Z re-evaluating their cultural heritage and pushing for new positive definitions of national identity. With the American Dream fading, citizens in emerging markets such as China and Africa are re-examining their cultural heritage and driving positive definitions of national identity. In fashion, a host of new labels are emerging that no longer want to pander to Western tastes. At Fashion East in London, both Asai and Supriya Lele exhibited clothes that had fresh takes on Chinese, Vietnamese and Indian heritage. At VFiles in New York, Christian Stone showcased a collection inspired by the obsolete electronics he grew up around in Hong Kong.

 

To add to this, fashion label Yat Pit features traditional loose and flowing silhouettes with Chinese fastenings under the tagline ‘reviving lost Chinese culture’. “We want to promote Chinese clothing to this generation and not have our outfit choices dominated only by Western aesthetics of just t-shirts and jeans,” says designer and co-founder On-Ying Lai.

 

The second trend is Tribal Mentality, which is a mind-set that stands for sharing, learning and pooling resources together, and will be driven by consumers’ need to reassess their purpose and attain a sense of fulfilment. This is evident in the rise of non-binary collectives including UNITI, Gal-dem and BBZ; all of which offer their unique take on the world to a wider audience, ultimately making it more ‘acceptable’. However, this is not just a youth movement; Older Woman’s Cohousing is a group of women who have created their own community to tackle loneliness in old age. They come from a variety of backgrounds and cultures, with ages ranging from the mid-fifties to around eighty. In the coming years, this shift from individual empowerment to collective strength will be ever more present.

 

The third and final trend is Institutionless Consumer, which highlights a new kind of consumer who seeks to disconnect entirely from existing financial, media, lifestyle and government institutions, and trade directly with their peers. We are beginning to see this trend take form with Bitcoin tripling in value from £680 to more than £2,030 between January 2017 and June 2017. With this being a peer-to-peer system and transactions taking place between users directly, it is making an intermediary obsolete.

 

To add to this, Blockchain-powered platforms such as MiVote are aiming to create a fairer – and institutionless – form of democracy for citizens. The app tells users what is being debated in the Australian parliament, provides them with relevant information on the issues and enables them to vote. In aggregate, these votes would dictate what legislation representatives of the MiVote Party, if elected, would support.

 

In the next decade we are going to see accelerating change in the way consumers behave, which is likely to create an even more challenging environment for those that are slow to evolve. However, for those that are willing to accept this positive revolution and embrace a landscape of consumers who are abandoning traditional institutions, seeking comfort in safe spaces and reasserting their sense of national pride, will be part of a transformed future.

 

– Patrick Williams

Make the most of mentoring

Mentoring has been a big part of my life for over 10 years. I’ve found it an amazing way to share my experience with others while also receiving so much back, as it’s a wonderful two way process. I’ve learned new skills, gained knowledge about others and myself and found it rewarding on so many levels. As we celebrate National Mentoring Day this week, I wanted to mark the occasion by sharing some of the things I’ve picked up over the years.

One of the first and toughest skills I have learnt has been the art of listening. It’s so crucial and often underestimated. I often think in today’s busy world people don’t take the time to listen, but when you do it provides a different perspective on life: you can learn, guide and advise people from a more informed position. It’s a life skill that’s worth investing in.

Hand in hand with listening is being human. I know this sounds strange but I think we sometimes forget that people are still people when they are put into work environments. If you overlook a person as a whole you may miss out on key information and won’t understand them as a rounded person. Understanding people’s human qualities allows you to develop them further.

So you’re ready to listen and understand people as humans, now you need to establish trust and respect as these are paramount in mentoring. Without these two qualities neither the mentee nor mentor are going to have a successful or fulfilling relationship. They are the foundations that you can build your relationship on.

To establish and sustain mentoring both parties need to be committed. Often meetings and catch ups happen outside of work hours or during lunch breaks so it’s important that time is used well and everyone keeps to meeting dates and times. If you’re committed to making it work, you’ll find it so worthwhile.

The more I write about mentoring, the more I realise that the list of skills and ‘top tips’ gets longer, but the main thing I want to do is encourage everyone to mentor or become a mentee. I’ve really enjoyed nurturing people, many of whom I now call friends, and I definitely believe the skills you learn help you in life. Everyone has experiences and knowledge to share so put yourself out there, empower yourself and others.

Charlotte Read 

If a woman can be Doctor Who, can the BBC now pay all women fairly?

Two days after the BBC announced a win for women with the casting of Jodie Whittaker as the new Doctor Who, it was revealed that only a third of the highest earners are women, with the highest female earners’ salary being just a quarter of the highest males’  Having recently seen a live recording of The One Show, this gender pay issue returned to the forefront of my mind.   Does the BBC have a gender discrimination problem, and if not, why does Alex Jones earn less than her co-host Matt Baker?

The BBC took a huge leap forward for women when it announced that the new Doctor Who would be Jodie Whittaker, and girls everywhere rejoiced.  Colin Baker, who played the 6th Doctor approves ‘I was the Doctor and I’m over the moon that at last we have a female lead’  whilst his predecessor Peter Davison seemed less sure; ‘If I feel any doubts, it’s the loss of a role model for boys who I think Doctor Who is vitally important for’. Was this just a token female, or does the BBC want to promote gender equality and strong female role models?

As a predominately female office, we were stunned by the revelation of the clear gender pay gap at the BBC.  Whilst Tony Hall has promised that there will be equal pay by 2020, it worries me that this will only be the case for the stars that the BBC pays, not the stars who are paid by private companies such as Graham Norton. Even more concerning is the fact that this problem spreads across all BBC staff; on average, men in the corporation earn 9.3% more than women.

As a public company, the BBC was required to share the information and Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn has called for an audit of all companies to reveal their gender pay difference. But what would we see if other broadcasters had to share it too? Whilst this may seem like a good idea and would help to force progress, it may be a waste of government resources. Would it be better to educate on the advantages of diversity and to encourage women to apply for higher roles in companies and ask for pay rises when they deserve them? Many female stars at the BBC have said that their pay is negotiated by agents who are often male and may not fight for the pay that they deserve.

There is also a stark lack of diversity in the highest paid stars that cannot go unnoticed.  The list is predominately white with the few people of colour who made it on earning the least of the highest paid stars.

Diversity in senior positions is crucial and without it there can be little progress. As an agency that works with creative companies we recognise the importance of diversity to create content that relates to many people. A lack of diversity on a creative board can limit the breadth of ideas and can result in distasteful campaigns that can be a PR nightmare – think the infamous Kendall Jenner Pepsi commercial.

Equality and diversity are key to any company and this is not just so you can say you are diverse. Diversity can lead to increased creativity and can help a company grow and succeed.

 

Beatrix Freeland 

A year at Pumpkin

You walk out of the exam room knowing that you’re officially a graduate, you hand in your notice at the part time job you’ve been doing since school, you finish your summer internship. Regardless of the paths that have led us there, we’ve all been in that limbo period just before ‘adult’ life truly begins; where we’re staring down the barrel of the gun that is the world of work, not quite sure what we’re getting into.

This was where I was when I started at Pumpkin almost a year ago. Exhilarated, slightly terrified – ready to leap into the unknown. Ten months later and those feelings may have mellowed (at least a little), but I now have a set of skills and experiences I would never have imagined. We’re often told that the first six months of our careers will be our biggest learning curve, and in my experience, that couldn’t have been truer. Whether that was working out what a KPI was, or building my first working relationship, there were a few key things that I learnt pretty early on.

We’re told over and over again that we should trust our gut instincts, but it was only when I started working in PR that I realised just how important they are. I didn’t have a repertoire of experience to rely on, so at first, decision making was a combination of my own intuition and support from the team. Whilst I was always told that there’s no such thing as a silly question, I had to find the balance between asking enough and making my own judgements. A few weeks in, I started trying to pre-empt the answers to the questions I asked before I received them, and as my instinct increasingly matched the team’s advice, I became more confident and more independent.

A team that’s on side is the biggest asset that your workplace can give you. This may seem like a given, but there’s still a wrongful assumption that business is a dog eat dog world, and that we must have a certain level of fierceness in order to survive. This is simply not true. In fact, Forbes recently revealed that one of the top five qualities employers value in the people they hire is the ability to ‘play well’ with each other, always working as a team, regardless of the challenges. Having colleagues that I feel not only support me, but genuinely want to see me flourish, has been absolutely integral to my first year of PR.

Nothing will ever really prepare you for what the working world hits you with. Writing an essay is not the same as writing a press release, a blog post or even an email. Getting up for a 9am lecture is not the same as working a 9-6 day. But equally, you’re probably more capable than you think you are of making the phone call you’re so anxious about, or suggesting that thought piece idea that you’ve been sitting on. When you’re starting out, it can be hard to know where you stand, but having the confidence to put yourself out there is really what made me start feeling like a genuinely valuable part of the team. You were hired for a reason, so more often than not, the person you have to prove yourself most to, is you.

 

Chloé Kingscote