04. Digitally-enabled entrepreneurship
We are now witnessing the growth of digitally-enabled entrepreneurship (e.g. Kickstarter.com) where anyone can find investors for any idea.
This, coupled with the advent of digitally-enabled manufacturing, (e.g. 3D printing) will empower people to obtain funding online and produce products from their home to create new ventures, some of which will resonate and become big.
This will level the competitive landscape as marquee brands will be forced to compete with a sea of small entrepreneurs. (Just look at how drones and robotics are already impacting everything from filmmaking to farming to manufacturing. It's quite astonishing.)
05. Four generations colliding
There are now four generations living today who each possess different values and unique consumer demands. This is creating new opportunities for how we can segment target audiences, but we can no longer rely on traditional techniques, like age, demographics or location, to segment our consumer populations.
There is no black and white. We live in a society of a thousand shades of grey. We must keep listening to our consumers, but we can't believe they always know what they want. We need to read between the lines, interpret and then decide with confidence and leadership: that's the foundation of innovation.
It will be more challenging to develop impactful and innovative design concepts under blurred lines and overlapping trends that change rapidly and affect generations differently. Effective design in this world will be the art of embracing ambiguity and complexity.
06. The Internet of Things
And finally, the age of the Internet of Things is fast approaching: a hyper-connected world where smart technology touches and impacts everything. Refrigerators, for example, will soon know when you are low on milk and eggs and automatically re-order them.
This may have the built-in advantage of automated brand loyalty, at least for a while. But it will also force brands to engage back with consumers in new ways. For instance, stores in the future could become more like showrooms for unique consumer experiences while the actual purchase occurs digitally.
Brands will still need to be relevant with consumers off-line first regardless of technological advancements. For example, an engaging brand experience at a small music festival that ties a brand to sustainability or health might lead to more impact and loyalty with consumers than a TV commercial could in one market.
We need to start thinking now about this future that has already arrived and the design innovations that will be required to meet new consumer demands and ever-changing trends. That vision and these insights for example are what have been driving us in the design of the recently launched Pepsi Spire, a smart and hyper-connected beverage dispensing system that allow consumers to customize their drink with more than a thousand different potential variations.
Changing structure, skill set and culture
As these changes begin to take root, there are three levels of complexity in which designers must navigate. Our efforts must be consistent and authentic from ideation to execution across platforms and touch points, geographies, and functions.
Only then will consumers perceive our solutions – products, brands or services – as relevant, impactful and again, authentic. This will require corporations to embrace a structure and culture of true collaboration and cross-pollination of ideas, especially the original, creative and inspired ones.
Through a mix of functionality, convenience, fun and pleasure, I believe that design can lead the way in creating a more engaging and better future for us all – a future of design that is culturally relevant, memorable, and perhaps even life changing.
Words: Mauro Porcini
Mauro Porcini is SVP and chief design officer for PepsiCo.
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