Dion Chang’s views on the future| filed under: Finding Balance
I celebrated my 70th birthday in November last year and was given two copies of Dion Chang’s extraordinary book “The 2009 Flux Trend Review”. It’s a book you have to read, and you absolutely cannot ignore. It’s daunting and exciting at the same time.
|I was delighted to find a two page review in the latest issue of Leadership. If reading the review doesn’t send you off to a bookshop and then to a quite space to read it from cover to cover, nothing will. |
The whole book is a Right Brain challenge and it’s our firm opinion that Right Brain challenges draw heavily on our energy so if you can’t get Dion Chang it’s your energy that needs recharging and that’s the real challenge we all face. Our energy is exhausted.
So have a go at the article and test your energy levels and your right Brain Capacity.
The big wake-up call: Dion Chang tells us why 2008 will go down as the year of the rude awakening
2008 will do down in the world’s history as a watershed year that not many people are going to forget. It was the year that everything went pear-shaped – on a global scale. The planet was hit by natural disasters, the global economy slumped, fuel prices went through the roof, civil uprisings became widespread and, most notably, environmental issues moved from the fringe into the spotlight, as a harsh reality that affects us all.
It was a rude awakening in many ways, and perhaps a necessary one. The winds of change are gaining momentum in every corner of the globe. Politically, we are already seeing dramatic changes, whether you are looking at the American or South African political landscape.
There is a new mindset developing and this has been steered by a reawakening of civil society. Communities have rediscovered the power of the people and have begun voicing their opinions – with the help of new technology – with impressive results. The eco movement has also benefitted from this social movement, and we are seeing issues of sustainability move into mainstream consciousness.
The rise of civil society is perhaps one of the most significant trends to emerge in 2008, and one that is going to alter the way in which we do things in 2009 and beyond: from government policies down to increasingly demanding consumer expectations with which retailers are going to be faced.
Many believe that we are witnessing a massive change in our collective mindset, from a power-hungry society to a more considered society that places ethics before greed, and all the indicators are there.
The speed at which the eco movement has gained mainstream acceptance and popularity is one example. Thanks to rolling blackouts at the beginning of the year, courtesy of Eskom, and the continual price hikes in fuel, the green movement suddenly became a personal issue.
For the first time, people on this tiny blue planet realised that in the grand scheme of things countries, continents and borders don’t really matter. We are in this together, like it or not. Mother Nature is sending out a strong message. It is a tough-live kind of warning, chilling in its simplicity: change the way you live – or self-destruct as a species.
I believe that we will see a significant acceleration of civil awakening during the course of 2009.
Already in 2008, there are chilling statistics regarding civilian protests in South Africa; and average of almost one per day.
Technology will add fuel to this fire. Social Network Services (SNS) like Facebook, Mxit and MySpace are evolving quickly. When introduced, they functioned purely as a social interactive service. Something you used to track down or keep in touch with old school friends.
Lately, SNS have been used as more of a mobilising tool, with amazing results. Groups formed on Facebook have proved to be a quick and effective means of mobilising people or opinions, so much so that the leap from cyberspace to mainstream media has become seamless and symbiotic.
In The 2009 Flux Trend Review, Professor Anton Harber also cites SNS as a new tool for capturing and dispatching news – “people are able to participate actively, to contribute, and not just be the recipients of information. They therefore shape the medium and its usage themselves, and everyone can be a content producer. Thus we have the rise of citizen journalists, ordinary people who use their cell phones to record and disseminate news reports.”
The state of the economy – however dire and depressing – has also influenced the way in which society consumes …. or monitors its excessive consumption. It is ironic that we are being forced back into a cash-and-carry system: one in which one actually has to be able to afford something before taking ownership of it. Imagine that?
The credit squeeze has turned out to be the biggest global wake-up call of 2008. It has forced us all to review our lifestyles, and the domino effect of that contemplation will reverberate for years to come. It makes us reconsider not only material possessions, but also the cost of producing those material items to the planet.
Sustainability has become the ubiquitous buzzword, and it is slowly dawning on the human species that the continued demands on the planet – in the next three to four decades – are not only unrealistic, but disastrous for mankind.
This kind of crisis and realisation of the very real danger to future generations will create a spurt of innovative and creative thinking – necessity is, after all, still the mother of invention. Large corporations, in particular, will need to start rethinking their structures and approach to business as outdated modes of research or business practice begin to jar with a new global perspective.
One of the key elements to this new global perspective comes from consumers. The rise of civil society, coupled with technology and the awareness the eco movement brings, is breeding a new hybrid consumer: one that all retailers should fear.
The 2009 consumer has evolved from being a passive consumer – dictated to by manufacturers and retailers – to an active/aggressive consumer, who is technologically savvy, socially aware, informed and very, very vocal.
The online retail arena has opened up myriad possibilities for this consumer: interactive dialogue, bespoke services and, most importantly, participation in a brand or product. This consumer now expects the same level of interaction and service from traditional retailers or service providers.
In fact, they expect the same and maybe more in terms of ethical business practice, which extends to the entire supply chain. If one business does not match up, they will vote with their feet (and newly found civil voice) – and thanks to technology, they now have an alternative choice – in cyberspace.
With the slump in the economy, these consumers know just how powerful their spending power really is, so will be looking for: better quality at a lower price, traceability in the supply chain, personalised service (before, during and after sales), and some king of participation or involvement in the brand.
The rise of this demanding consumer has already set in motion a chain reaction that is altering the retail landscape. Besides the interaction or services they demand from retailers, consumers are also influencing the shopping environment.
In a digital age, we are seeing more and more a disconnect from, or lack of, sensory experiences. The more time we spend online and communicating via e-mail or SMS, the more we crave alternative sensory stimulation. Forward-thinking developers have therefore started designing consumer environments to meet this need. The traditional, enclosed mall is dying a slow death around the world. In its place are styled open-air malls, usually designed in a courtyard space. These malls are peppered with vegetation, water features and public pause areas, all designed to replicate high-street shopping.
After decades seeing the rise of the supermall, we are discovering that people gravitate naturally to mixed-use urban living, as they have always done. Every old European city functions on this concept: retail spaces at ground level, office space above and living spaces above that. For 21st-century lifestyles, mixed-use living spaces offer convenience, as well as a community spirit, which walled-off suburbs cannot provide.
“Lifestyle experiences” are a growing need. The further we hurtle into the digital era, the more pronounced this need will become. It has already affected the travel and leisure industries. The slump in the economy may have restricted people’s travel budgets, but if they are able to save enough for a holiday, travellers are demanding more for their money.
There is a huge trend for “compressed leisure”, where business travellers combine cultural activities within a business trip, or holidaymakers add extra activities onto their trips to make their time away more worthwhile.
Concern for the environment has also seen a spike in specialised travel to areas around the planet that are diminishing or are being altered because of climate change. Eco-tourism is on the rise, and there are now package trips to see icebergs break off polar glaciers, disappearing rainforests or coral reefs.
Holidays that also fulfil some form of social responsibility – like building low-cost housing for impoverished communities – are becoming popular, particularly amongst socially aware youth groups who would traditionally take a gap year before embarking on their tertiary studies.
This may seem surprising for an older generation, but the shift in traditional value systems is real and is being championed by the youth. In South Africa particularly, the impact of crime is fast-forwarding this change of perspective. Many people are opting to invest in experiences that will bring lasting memories instead of spending their hard-earned cash on material goods that could be stolen or taken away from them. The concept of luxury is therefore being redefined.
In a sensorily deprived, fast-paced, digital world – one that has also been battered by an economic recession – people are beginning to take stock of what really counts. Time has become one of life’s most precious commodities, so spending time with loved ones or sharing experiences now appeal more than expensive status symbols, which suddenly seems somewhat vulgar.
The CEO of Yves Saint Laurent, Valerie Hermann, summed it up perfectly. She described what the world – and the luxury goods market – was going through as “a crisis of values”, questioning whether or not a woman would still pay $5000 for a handbag once the current recession was over. Her prediction? “Probably not.”
2008 may have been a rude awakening, but you can be sure that we will look back on this watershed year in just a few years hence and shake our heads with disbelief at the way in which we lived our lives. Change entails instability and uncertainty. Most fear the process, while others see windows of opportunity. It all boils down to perspective. Forget merely thinking outside the box. While many are taking cover inside the box, view the box as a potential gift.
The 2009 Flux Trend Review – edited by Dion Chang and published by Pan Macmillan.