In 1999 in his book The Dream Society, futurist #Rolf Jensen predicted a business world in 2020 which will have shifted from a need driven focus to a story-driven connection with consumers. Is he right?
The scenario he paints in 1999 is one where ‘we are in the twilight of a society based on data. As information and intelligence become the domain of computers, society will place new value on the one ability that can’t be automated: emotion. Imagination, myth, ritual – the language of emotion – will effect everything from our purchasing decisions to how well we work with others.”
He argues that companies will need to understand that their products are less important than their stories and staff will search for meaning more than money.
Before Jensen, Marx may have been right: “In an ideal society, employees will own the means of production – in their heads and in their hearts.”
Anita Roddick, the late Founder of The Body Shop, often quoted that people – staff, customers, and suppliers wanted to engage with the stories of the product, not the product itself.
“The universe is made of stories, not atoms”
Seth Godin, in more recent times encourages business to find their ‘why’- the esoteric association connecting you with your customers beyond purely the trade of products and services.
I think Jensen was right as we move towards 2020 that we are less concerned with function than brand. Nearly all products these days work as good as the competitors so how does one stand out from the other? Storytelling is another buzzword in marketing and management. However is the ‘commercialisation’ of emotions just more of the same as marketers work towards this future? Are the stories real or imagined? Can every business have a compelling story?
I think marketers would have us believe as brands have a higher asking price than no names. Increasingly campaigns focus on how the products will make you feel (benefits) rather than how they perform (attributes). However combine the need for storytelling with today’s social media requirement for authenticity maybe only the products with the real stories will prevail…the free range eggs, the fair traded goods, the low food miles, the truly environmentally advanced.
Modern marketing is becoming increasingly emotional – Jensen’s prediction for 2020 – that consumers see experience and adventure as more valuable than products and price – do you think we are there yet?