In the shifting landscape of consumer behaviour and product design, successful brands must find new ways to collaborate with their customers. That’s the message from Jörgen Jedbratt, a trend forecaster at the Stockholm-based research and consulting firm Kairos Future.
One challenge for companies in the next 15 to 20 years will be to develop products with, not for, customers. How will that change the design process?
“We are entering a shopping detox economy, and that’s a whole new ball game. We’re starting to see a shift from ‘shopaholic’ to ‘saveaholic’ consumer behaviour, where we reuse, recycle and rent more products than ever. At the same time, companies need a more circular rather than end-focused process for product development, with new technology driving collaboration with consumers. For example, when Lego was about to go bankrupt it turned to its fans for ideas. Today’s seven-year-olds know what they want.”
Who should companies be trying to please?
“The trick is to get your customers to engage with your product. If brands can understand that, they will see design and development in a new way.”
Just how collaborative will this process be?
“When punk came, everyone could play it. Now you can see that in production and lifestyle goods. Design is being democratised. We don’t know exactly what will happen, but it will involve more collaboration.”
Read more about the report Detox in the Consumer Landscape at Kairosfuture.com/publications
What effect will this have on the craft and design industry?
“The digitised collaborative economy offers tremendous opportunities. Artisans will have more control over the shopping process through the Internet. They will be better able to collaborate in new ways with their audience and other artisans doing handicraft with a twist, using 3-d printers and mini-robots to serially produce things they couldn’t serially produce before because it was too expensive.”
TEXT GRAEME NADASY PHOTO SHUTTERSTOCK