Late last year, I was invited to attend the Global Work Tech Scenarios 2050 conference in South Africa. At first, I was nervous about sharing my thoughts because I wasn’t sure how they would be received, and I wasn’t so sure how my marketing expertise and communications would fit into the context of the future of science and technology. .
Quite often, the trend is that we see science as a mutually exclusive subject that doesn’t directly impact our daily lives – or so I thought. However, the more I have been exposed to this field, the more I realize how different waves of science and technology have shaped the cultural experience of society, for example, the way society communicates, buys and accessing information has changed because of the digital age.
Attending this conference again opened my eyes to this topic and therefore made me reflect on the possibilities for the future and the role of marketing and communications in this regard.
In preparation for the roundtable, we received a document entitled Future Work/Tech 2050 Global Scenarios. Using a prospective studies method, the case study thoroughly highlights potential scenarios that could emerge by 2050 due to global technological advances. Additionally, the case study examines the effect these advances will have on politics, economics, and culture. Of the three scenarios presented to us, the third titled: If humans were free – self-realization the economy struck me the most.
A culture of self-awareness, creativity and purpose
According to this particular future study, new technologies in the form of artificial intelligence will change the face of the labor market as we know it today. By 2050, approximately 4 billion people will turn to self-employment. This means that while new technologies may not necessarily support formal employment, they can provide an enabling environment for alternative forms of employment to flourish.
With this kind of economic change, the study predicts that the percentage of people employed by corporations will decrease and there will be an increase in the number of self-employed people. The study also suggests that individual power will begin to increase relative to government and corporate power.
This economic shift resulting from a technological revolution will also have a direct impact on global culture. Due to the increase in individual power, society will begin to embrace the concept of a self-actualizing economy. Essentially, this means that individuals will begin to decide for themselves how to use their time, reflect on issues regarding their life purpose, and find ways to express their purpose through work.
As a result, a culture of self-awareness, creativity and purpose will peak and this could also change the way people relate to brands. In a society where individuals are self-aware and driven by the need to express themselves, one has to wonder how this will affect how companies market and communicate their brand to the public.
A decline in corporate power
Corporate for many years has benefited from the existence of public relations, marketing and communications. Indeed, this field of study specializes in examining the behavior of consumers or a particular target audience, understanding their needs and desires, using various methods to mass communicate a particular service or product to a group of people for profit.
In fact, Edward Bernays, considered the “father of public relations” and known as the nephew of Sigmund Freud, based the foundations of public relations on the study of crowd psychology – which is a broad study of how an individual’s behavior is influenced in a large crowd.
Over the years, this approach has worked wonders because the economic system of capitalism has spawned a societal culture of competitiveness, consumerism, and the need to achieve material success to gain social acceptance. Thus, companies, through public relations, marketing and communication, have been able to retain different audiences by drawing on them.
However, if future studies predict a self-actualizing economy by 2050, we will see a decrease in corporate power and an increase in individual power. If the agenda in society will be to explore personal creativity, self-awareness and the pursuit of a goal rather than pursuing material success to gain social acceptance, it may mean that the field of marketing and communications may have to start finding a different approach. communication of brands to the public.
A changing consumer market
So I suspect that, unlike a mass communication approach that groups people according to what they have – for example, using the Living Standards Measurement Method (LSM) to understand a particular target audience, a more personalized approach may need to be adopted.
This means that brands may need to invest more time in analyzing the environment of their target market, taking the time to understand what affects them, what they want, what they need, their their deepest desires and fears. The evolution of the consumer market will dictate brands the ability to engage as an active member of the community and skillfully interpret their beliefs and value systems, not just their physiological needs.
Previously, brands were content to market and communicate a product to push it to market. This approach worked for years because the consumerist culture back then was more about what a particular product/service can do for me. However, this approach of a consumer today seems detached.
With the digital age giving us easy access to information, there has already been a gradual increase in consumers who are more aware and interested in the policies that govern how a brand operates. As a result, consumers confidently reject a brand that does not represent their beliefs or value system.
This type of unapologetic, self-aware consumer is set to increase exponentially by 2050. For brands that refuse to observe and listen, they will remain detached from the reality of their target audience and find themselves to preach to the unconverted.