It was all strategic foresight.
Tom, with his focus on the trends driving our futures, represents one aspect of where I believe market research is headed.
Luckily, I had the opportunity to talk with Tom before his presentation and as luck would have it he is heavily involved in strategic foresight and the Institute for the Future.
One discipline or methodology that Tom utilizes is tracking macroforces by meta analysis of books. Some of the more interesting trends he sees from the meta analysis are a reappraisal of capitalism along ecological and social justice lines, the rise of creativity as a key force (see Daniel Pink’s “A Whole New Mind”), and a better understanding of the consumer (via behavioral economics and positive psychology).
One of Tom’s more provocative questions was what business rules are or will replace Michael Porter’s famed five forces. I think we’re already seeing an opposing paradigm emerge along mesh business lines utilizing ad hoc collaboration, open networks, shared purpose and community engagement based on transparent reputation. On this last point Tom presented what Coca-Cola is doing with community and environmental groups to reduce waste (energy and water) and shrink environmental footprint while increasing profits.
Tom closed with something many of us have been mulling for a while now.
What will a brand be in the future?
My contention is that brands will change dramatically from “me” to “we”, from status to purpose, and from consumption to particpation. Tom argues along the same lines – that the emergent brand is based on “societal construction.” It’s the “should brand.”