Earlier this year the European Commission kicked off a foresight project to study the long-term trends that will impact the continent over the next two to three decades. Its purpose was to inform Horizon 2020
, the €80 billion (almost US$110 billion) R&D investment program of the European Union, arguably the largest such funding program globally. The project, whose report is due to be published over the summer, identified five game changers, each with important and sometimes polarized ramifications for solutions marketers.
Two opposing dynamics are at play with globalization: while the world is inevitably becoming more global, a number of communities and customer segments are reacting to this rising uniformity by favoring more fragmentation. What would an independent Catalonia or Scotland or a split Belgium mean to businesses in terms of brand, sales channels, and messaging? Solutions marketers must balance global approaches and assets with local adaptation.
An Aging Population
The over-65s age group is set to at least double between 2000 and 2050, bringing with it uncertain consequences. As is observed in Japan and Italy, a declining or aging population leads to a reduction in economic growth. However, larger contingents of older folks create opportunities for new services and products. What value propositions can be offered this segment? And, if people live to 100 or more, marketers must build brand awareness and favorability for that longer lifespan, ensuring the customer experience delivers every time.
Ubiquitous Connectivity and Technology
The implication of an ever-more intelligent population of machines wired to always-on Europeans could be incredibly positive. Individuals could be looked after, protected from harm and ill health. Humans may not have to work anymore. And increased data storage and computing power create more opportunities. Services can be personalized for each of us. They learn and soon predict our individual preferences. There is a negative side, though, to so much technology. What if a massive hack took out the connected ecosystem? How can people maintain privacy and individuality within ubiquitous connectivity? In both case, solutions providers can bring real answers to customer needs.
Sadly, the degradation of nature is plain to see across much of Europe. While the negatives of this game changer are easy to point out, the EU’s project highlights new opportunities from these triggers, too. Teleworking rather than travelling to work, shared resources like cars and cloud computing, better modeling of weather patterns—the list of adaptation and mitigation strategies is long enough to whet many marketers’ appetite. Environmental awareness is certain to be part of solution messaging towards an ever-better informed set of buyers.
Resource and Energy Scarcity
Against a backdrop of worldwide energy consumption doubling between 1990 and 2020, the implications are polarized between despair (“we’ll all live in caves”) and opportunity. The answer for marketers is to combine mitigation (the invention of services that consume less energy) and adaptation (finding new resources and ensuring the organization’s solutions work with them).
Solutions marketers must take advantage of these five mega-trends now
, by reviewing their portfolios, messaging, and segmentation.