Anders Sörman-Nilsson is a futurist and the founder of the think tank and trend analysis firm – Thinque. As a keynote speaker for Hair Festival REALtalk in 2023, Anders tapped into the best of Thinque – an agency which provides data-based research, foresight and thought leadership assets for global brands across four continents. Anders has become one of the most relevant and agile speakers of today – bringing the future to now for any size business. We sat down with Anders post- REALtalk to take a look at some key futurism trends.
INSTYLE: What are the hottest topics in terms of presenting for a futurist right now?
Anders Sörman-Nilsson: There are two convergent trends that constitute a powerful innovation intersection right now. With the Rise of ChatGPT and the democratisation of AI tools, artificial intelligence is a huge topic of interest at the moment. Leaders and entrepreneurs are asking themselves how they save time and money, and boost their output and return on investment through the deployment of machine learning, such as through the creation of synthetic content – think AI-generated designs and imagery – or by the evolution of workflows where we are able to take the robot out of the human. In other words, utilising technology and AI to help us humans do less of the menial and the mundane and more of the meaningful and the humane.
IN: Where do you see the consumer landscape and the conscious consumer in the next few years?
ASN: The broader megatrends on the consumer side is the Rise of the Conscious Consumer – a consumer who is Eco-Conscious, Data-Conscious, Science- Conscious, Story-Conscious, Provenance- Conscious, Future-Conscious and Health-Conscious. They want to spend their disposable dollars with brands and companies that enable and empower their consciousness. They are likely to buy less, but better products, and they want to spend money in a guilt-free fashion. Luxury and sustainability have gone hand in hand, but remember that today’s luxury is tomorrow’s expectation, which means eco-consciousness, for example, is going mainstream.
IN: What Are Key Trends In Sustainability?
ASN: Sustainability is no longer a niche, it’s a necessity. Some key trends include the rise of circular economies, where products are designed to be reused or recycled. There’s a surge in regenerative agriculture, which focuses not just on producing food but restoring ecosystems. Green technology, especially in energy storage and production, is booming. Lastly, businesses are recognising that sustainability isn’t just environmentally focused, but also about ensuring social and economic fairness. Think about your salon’s circularity – switch energy plans to renewable energy, engage with haircare brands that design for productstewardship and plug into your own recycling systems.
IN: How is AI changing the face of customer service?
ASN: AI is revolutionising customer service in a myriad of ways. In some ways, the most human touch is now the human-centric, digital touch. Chatbots and virtual assistants are becoming the frontline of professional services firms’ onboarding processes, capable of resolving many queries instantly. AI-driven predictive analytics allows businesses to anticipate customer needs and personalise experiences. Additionally, sentiment analysis tools can gauge customer emotions in real time, enabling more empathetic interactions. However, while AI enhances efficiency, it’s vital to strike a balance to ensure human touchpoints remain, especially for complex or sensitive issues. We still value the humane, human touch, but during a cost-of-living crisis, we won’t trust brands and businesses who duplicate efforts, have lots of human ‘red tape’, or deploy old school paperwork.
IN: In the digital age how are we making sure we are still connecting at a human level?
ASN: The digital age, while bringing efficiency, also runs the risk of eroding genuine human connections. However, it’s crucial to remember that technology is a tool, and how we use it determines its impact. Virtual reality, for instance, can foster immersive connections and empathy across continents. Social platforms can reignite old friendships. The key is intentionality. Prioritising face-to-face interactions, practicing digital detoxes, and using technology to enhance, not replace, human connections are ways we can maintain our innate need for genuine relationships in this digital epoch. In an emerging era of synthetic content and media, true, authentic human expression (digitally verified as being “human-created”) will have a premium placed upon it, just like artisanal, small batch, local and organic have. If you can scale your personal story and empathy – both via analogue and digital channels – you will enduringly win the digital minds and analogue hearts of tomorrow’s Conscious Consumers.
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