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The Value Radar – Future Insights for Brand Management


Future Values?
Let me lead into the topic by looking at two considerations: Firstly, to be honest, I’ve always wondered why schools and universities teach us only about the world as some believe it was in the past and how it is at present. But, why didn’t we use our time in the classroom to think about what it might conceivably be like in the future? Especially given that, in everyday life, everybody is actually shaping and designing the future – for example just by using energy. Some of us actually have jobs which are about planning and steering brands or products successfully into the future. So we definitely want to know what the future will look like! Unfortunately, we’re confronted with such complexity that nobody can reliably predict the future. But, we can talk about possibilities, about possible scenarios of the future – and this is vital if we want to be able to plan in the present.

Secondly, in the postmodern era of the 80s and 90s, everybody followed the “anything goes” approach and believed that everything was subjective and relative. But, after the many crises, changes, and challenges over the past 15 years, we’ve learned that this standpoint is relative, too. We certainly live in extremely uncertain and volatile times, which explains why so many people have a desire for orientation. And it is precisely here that the function of values kicks in. People’s value priorities motivate the way they think and the decisions they make. They serve as guiding principles in people’s lives. Why? Probably because values themselves aren’t just subjective and arbitrary. Consequently, if we want to know what drives people’s thoughts and actions we need to understand their values. And if we want to know what will sway and motivate people in future, we should try to figure out how our values will be weighted, interpreted, and lived out over the coming years. This is our study “The Value Radar 2030” is in a nutshell!

Our methodological approach – What’s the difference?
The objective of this study is to gain insights into changing attitudes and values in society based on central megatrends. These megatrends allow for well-founded conclusions about our societal value orientations in cultures with a Western influence and in China. The chosen time horizon for the respective scenarios is the year 2030 – this enables us to derive and develop viable recommendations for value-based brand management which is fit for the future.

Looking at the whole picture: what’s new? These days, we have easy access to so much information that it’s no longer necessary to interview each and every expert. This means we can shorten the Delphi sessions, which in turn provides scope for an interdisciplinary approach which involves integrating and mixing different modules. Hence, our research process includes individual as well as collective phases, qualitative as well as quantitative modules. Another remarkable point is that we don’t talk about values in the framework of anachronistic milieus or age groups, because none of these once clearly defined zones and boundaries are stable anymore – social groups are fluid, and individuals design themselves as patchwork identities. We therefore forecast values within the framework of societal, technological and economic megatrends.

Furthermore, we do not compile ad hoc reports every seven years. Instead we have established a continuous workflow to contextualise trend research and futures studies within a bigger picture. And finally, our research in this field is systematically linked to the concrete tasks and tools for navigating brands or products successfully into the future by integrating the “Integrated Consumer Understanding” (ICU) approach.

Five megatrends – One example
We already have identified five central structural changes which will accompany western societies over the next 15 years. These megatrends provide the basis on which to discuss possible impacts on those values which are likely to become important in the future. In this article, I just want to summarise one of our five clusters: “Algorithmisation”.

I’m absolutely convinced that we no longer live either online OR offline – after all, it’s no longer possible to distinguish between these two realities. We live “onlife” – as philosopher Floridi calls it. Within this “infosphere”, connected machines crunch data to gain a more accurate impression of who we are and what we really want. Big data and robotisation are based on smart software which allows for a new form of connectivity, autonomisation, transparency and personal pre-selection of decision-making options.

In other words, software isn’t just able to recommend options, but also can decide for us. Right now, it doesn’t really replace our decisions but nudges us in a certain direction. The question to be asked is whether this development will be understood in a negative way as incapacitation and supervision along with a loss of freedom and employment – or in a positive way as a means of lightening our workload or burden, as a welcome reduction of complexity. Another crucial question for our study concerns the impact of total algorithmisation on our values and attitudes?

Take for example the idea of trust or confidence. Will trust become more important, taking into account that the individual will have no other choice in a world of unverifiable numbers? Or will this value decrease in significances as we become increasingly intent on tracking things and making everything transparent along the lines “Trust is good, but control is better.”?

About The Author

Hannes Fernow

Dr. Hannes Fernow analyses changes in society and everyday culture, focusing on values and emerging technologies. He works as a research manager for the qualitative department of GIM Berlin and has extensive experience of trend research and future studies. Another focus of his work is on national and international research regarding brand perception, concept testing and marketing strategy in the automotive and mobility industries. Before joining GIM Berlin, he successfully completed his PhD on climate risks between innovation and regulation at the University of Heidelberg. He is the author of several books and has published in peer-reviewed journals.

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