Published in SecondSight magazine
In coming years, disruption and transformation will continue to be part of our lives. Change, accelerated by the introduction of new technology, will be the only constant factor. People who adjust easily to new situations will do well in this new zeitgeist, because a flexible mindset is the psychology necessary for achieving success. This attitude towards life is the driving force behind three consumer needs: the need to identify values in life, the need to reduce obligations and the need for the best basics.
We often have too many commitments in our lives, which hinder our flexibility. Setting priorities creates freedom (because there is less to organise), lowers our stress and frees up more energy for following our passions. We should set priorities based on our life values rather than on our schedules, since creative freedom, family life, friendship and healthy living form a more worthy compass in life. Taking these values as a starting point, it becomes easier to say “no, we can’t” or “yes, we can”.
Setting priorities gives us time in our daily lives for two creative activities: daydreaming and sleeping. First, daydreaming asks us to schedule more me-time, like an afternoon a week to do nothing. Everybody can do that: just grab a comfortable chair and stare out the window for a bit. These moments can help us find new insights and creativity. Second, getting a good night’s sleep is too often ignored in our hectic lives. A good night’s sleep helps us wake up with fresh ideas and fosters a flexible mindset.
If we have a big car, a high-rate mortgage, too many obligations and too much stuff, we can feel trapped by all our assets and liabilities. In order to remain flexible, we need fewer obligations in volatile times. This bring us to four major shifts. First, a shift from owning to having access to something: why own designer clothes, a bicycle, books or a toolkit if you are not using them every day? Thanks to new apps, it is much easier to have access to things. Technology has created a network society where supply and demand are just a mouse click away, such as the website Rent the Runway, which rents out dresses and accessories from famous designers.
Second, a shift from fixed payments to paying per use. Why should we get a subscription or pay a monthly fee for fitness when we only go twice a month? And why pay for monthly car insurance when we only need it on weekends? Technology enables us to pay per use, like Fitmob (pay-as-you-go), Lyft (a ride whenever you need one), Coursera (take the world’s best courses for free), and Elance (find freelancers online and pay per hour).
Third, a shift from buying more to buying better. We’re pickier when we buy something: “Do I really need this? Does it have a functional or emotional value for me?” Fourth, a shift from clutter to less stuff. There’s a need to downsize, to get rid of excess possessions. Why do we need a walk-in closet full of clutter? Why do we need a garage full of things we never use? Getting rid of excess stuff makes us feel freer.
In a hectic, uncertain and complex, ever-changing world, people want to enjoy the basic things in life at a superior level. Since they have less money to spend and there are so many options, they want only the very best: the best hotdog, detox juice, freshly-roasted coffee or yoga lessons. This explains the popularity of great coffee places like Victrola, Intelligentsia, Stumptown, and Fourbarrel, and the Ace and Wythe hotels where they focus on hotel-room essentials like a good bed and a refreshing shower. Then there are stores such as Uniqlo and Joe Fresh offering essential men’s and women’s clothing made from the best materials at an affordable price. People reward excellent quality and are willing to pay for it.
Companies cannot be the best at everything and must necessarily specialise. In the food sector, which is always a trendsetter in business, the trend is focus-pocus food. It started with food trucks specialising in tacos, lobster, schnitzel, or pulled beef. Now there are restaurants and gastropubs doing the same thing, focusing on a popular product like hotdogs, cheese or eggs, such as The Fat Dog in Amsterdam, Cheese Mission in San Francisco and Egg in Brooklyn.
Specialisation is also about innovating new taste combinations: that’s the pocus part. During my three-week visit to San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York, the two longest waiting lines I saw were at the Smorgasburg market for the ramen burger and at Eggslut in Los Angeles for their egg dishes. The ramen burger is a fresh, prime ground-beef chuck patty sandwiched between two craftily formed buns made from freshly-cut ramen noodles and accompanied by a special shoyu glaze and choice market-fresh vegetables. Eggslut is famous for their Slut, a coddled egg served atop potato puree, poached in a glass jar and served with crostini. The future is looking tasty as well!