The Age of the Customer

Photo: unsplash.com

We live in a world where customers can demand more from companies by taking advantage of various digital channels. It is now the consumers who have the power to force companies to react and change. Companies that fail to understand this new reality will be out of business quicker than ever.

This was the main theme behind the most recent Design Forum Talk called Design and New Value which took place on Wednesday 20 May as a free online event. The event’s theme reflected the fact that consumer behaviour has changed, and people nowadays have more possibilities to influence how companies function and what kind of values they represent.

The covid-19 has only strengthened this new trend. The companies that want to be among the survivors of the pandemic will need to build trust, stand behind their values, work towards a meaningful brand and have an authentic mission. You can also call this “profit with purpose”.

The 2-hour Design Forum Talk included five presentations from five speakers:

  • Katri Vataja, Director of the Foresight, Insight and Strategy at Sitra
  • Sonja Lahtinen, Researcher from the University of Tampere
  • Annika Boström-Kumlin, Marketing Director at Verso Food
  • Jussi Mantere, Head of CX and Design at Kesko Oyj
  • Mikko Koskinen, Brand & Marketing at Kyrö Distillery

Look to the future

Katri Vataja from Sitra talked about the most important trends of the 2020s and the kind of challenges their impact brings to design and business. Katri mentioned that the mega trends such as the urgent need for ecological reconstruction or the ageing population help us to understand the future. However, the key question is what kind of future we want to build.

Sitra’s megatrend cards (Finnish version)

Solve the puzzle

Sonja Lahtinen referred to these major challenges that our generation must face as wicked problems. She used the Rubik’s cube as a metaphor to explain that we already have all the pieces at hand. Now, we only need to solve the puzzle. In order to do this, we need creative people and completely new kinds of solutions. Companies have a big role in this. By bringing more sustainable products to the market, the consumers will have a chance to make better choices as well.

Create new value

The last three speakers represented companies that have understood the importance of the new value and have been able to respond to quick changes on the market.

Annika Boström-Kumlin from Verso Food talked about their mission to change the image of vegan food so that people would only think of it as food (and really tasty food as well).

Jussi Mantere from Kesko talked about how they use digital data and insight to design customer-centric services that enable people to make environmentally sustainable buying decisions.

The last speaker, Mikko Koskinen from Kyrö Distillery, gave an interesting presentation about how their company has managed to keep the business running through covid-19 by shifting from whiskey production to produce hand sanitizer.

All of the speakers confirmed that by creating new value companies can create additional value to the customers, employees, environment, stakeholders, society and eventually to the owners of the company. The change starts from strategic thinking, courage, creativity and better understanding.

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