The World Is Being Rebuilt from the Ground upMatthias Horx, trend and future researcher, and retail expert Marcus Wild, Chairman of the SES Supervisory Board, talk about the future, new chances for retailers, paradoxes, and the redefinition of success.
In an interview during the coronavirus lockdown, you once said that “after the corona pandemic, coffee will taste different”. Why is that so? When will we go back to normal?
Matthias Horx ››› Never. The world as we know it is dissolving. This is one of those historic moments that give our future a different direction. A new world is forming, and, in the worst case, things will stay as they are. People, societies, and cultures are subject to constant changes, which is in line with the principle of evolution. At times of the coronavirus, our economy in particular requires a new legitimacy. The retail trade will also undergo a future process. The “old normal” was a very hectic time. We were addicted to an ever-increasing level of utilization, upgrades, entertainment, and “Likes”, but at the same time, we felt disorientated. The coronavirus crisis brought an unexpected silence. Let’s face it: do we really want to go back to the “old normal”? Our first impulse might be to return back to the lives that we are used to. Very quickly. Very urgently. Otherwise, everything will break down. But is that really true?
Undisputedly, the crisis has caused a lot of suffering, insecurity and financial distress. Its impact cannot be downplayed, and we are not out of the woods yet. At the same time, it has provided us with a glimpse of “the other side”. It creates a clearer, more transparent future. The world was “going under”, and yet, surprisingly, some things worked even better than they had before. The “new normal” might involve the use of a standard growth model as the only economic model for the future, as well as a prosperity index that also measures the qualitative dimensions of prosperity – environment, health, connectedness, and quality of life.
Megatrends will remain the most important drivers of change, and form the basis of retail trend developments. They bring about revolutionary changes via their enormous mid- to long-term impact on all aspects of the economy and society as a whole. The world post, or rather mid-coronavirus, has emerged from the disruption of the connectivity megatrend. However, the disruption of globalization across the entire globe does not cancel our connections, but brings about their restructuring.
Local production and booming online business – are those not contradictory to one another? Where can we see the change?
Matthias Horx ››› ”Glocal“ is key here. The boom that delivery boxes of organic goods are enjoying proves that regional products and online retail are not contradictory. The things that connect such paradoxes to a greater extent, such as the “phygital” phenomenon, are viable for the future. While the coronavirus has brought humanity closer together, we have all had to maintain our distance. One thing, however, has not changed: People enjoy meeting each other, but they also love the advantages offered by modern technology. What a huge opportunity for the retail industry! Perhaps the “new world” will also usher in an era of greater deceleration, and with it the elimination of certain things, habits, and dependencies. That does not mean that post-corona consumption will manifest itself by way of radical minimalism – but rather in the realization that an enjoyable, fulfilled life is not dependent on the number of consumer goods one owns or uses. Consumption for the sake of consumption will, therefore, lose momentum. Now, the issue is rather one that relates to conscious consumption. A boom in local business and the renaissance of crafts. Consumers have begun to value what is genuine and authentic, as well as quality, and their focus has shifted towards necessities. We’re looking at a post-growth era, featuring a new awareness of values. The constant pressure on prices is no longer required, nor does anyone desire it. Upcycling, cradle-to-cradle design, and a strategic commitment to the circular economy are the order of the day. The future will be about creating meaning rather than maximizing profits. Social responsibility is on the rise, and members of all generations desire to improve the world. People are beginning to recognize the value of mutual contribution – cooperation instead of competition. Consumers benefit from phenomena such as shared spaces and co-retailing. The retail business functions like an eco-system that can only survive in communion with the environment. This form of connectivity creates ideas, solutions, and enclaves of production cooperation. Innovation goes on.
What advice can you offer our retail partners on their journeys “into the new world”?
Matthias Horx ››› Transformation is key. Mobilize your powers to transform! Be adventurous! The tool to achieve this is “RE-Gnosis”, a mental technique under which we look back at our present time from a point of time in the future. Using this technique, we reconstruct the link that connects us to the future. Take a look at yourself during pre-lockdown times. Have you changed? Then, take a look ahead, into a world that strikes a different note. Can you see yourself in this world? Re-gnosis allows for a perspective of coping and of change.
Our future begins in the mind. Reset. Rethink. Be determined. Communicate with clarity and demonstrate your brand’s competence to find solutions. Living through times of crises means waking up to a better world in which all of us accept our responsibility for tomorrow. Excited about what lies ahead, curious, forward-looking. We make plans and have visions that let us gear our actions towards the future. Re-gnosis means understanding that we are part of the future. WE are the change that we are hoping for in the world. If YOU reinvent yourself, so will the world. You will see that the future has already arrived. Similarly to love, it is a choice. This is how change comes about, and not in any other shape or form. Change yourself and change the world.