Written by ICG member, Clara Origlia , Cultures and Strategies
First Published in Research World, June 27, 2019
READING TIME: 4 MINS
Humanising the future implies that we acknowledge the richness, depth and humanity of life, develop the capacity to establish relationships with other humans in real life and cultivate listening and communication skills with real people. It also implies that we believe in the creative capacity of all the generations, including those forgotten by marketing, to share innovative ideas and contribute to the future.
Human cannot only be the product of a marketing strategy. It means having roots and foundations, it must be based on something true, authentic, and shared.
The human element creates value and needs to be nurtured by true values. An exclusive focus on younger generations might ultimately limit our vision. And not only because their life experience is shorter and not as deep, but simply because young people also age as did their parents and their grandparents too. We are all human. Humankind goes on and will continue to do so in the future, naturally. Life will be increasingly assisted by technology, but not replaced by it. The humanity of the human being has not changed.
I strongly believe in the power of cultural, generational and professional collaborating for innovation and in giving back a voice to generations or consumer segments that have been completely forgotten by marketing, and which nonetheless may prove extremely insightful if approached in a simply and truly qualitative manner.
Before we enter a “constant future” phase, these generations, more mature today, represent a precious asset in acting as a link with the future generations. They are the only generations that have remained aware of the evolutional sense of the human being and of things and have an innate competence in the transformative processes which take place in the arc of a lifetime (things, people, sentiments, values ideas, culture…) in material, objective, subjective and intangible terms. They have designed, experimented and acted out change and possess a sense of time and of the future that it would be in the interest of all to explore and share, and attach further meaning to human existence or seek a sense for it.
We need to use segmentations more creatively and reap their full potential. A greater diversity of people will help to explore life and humanity from different angles and insights will offer a richer variety of textures, colours, flavours, sounds and deeper meanings.
Age is not the only discriminating factor but it is certainly the most apparent, considering the impact of global ageing on our future. With age, individuals are no longer treated and studied as “personas”, whereas they should be treated as “experts” in the analysis of evolving needs and values. They should be valued for their experience in the original meaning of the word, but also in its more contemporary “wow” meaning. All of which hands us valuable keys for innovation, made possible by technology, made relevant in a digital world, designed for all and available to anyone.
Think of issues that have to do with usability, service, comfort or with quality of life, wellness, health, home, safety and care in all its expressions, in measuring professionalism and humanity not only in CRM but also in the health and care industry, in developing new housing solutions and in the planning of smart cities. I could go on as NPD or design thinking are not the only areas. Is the whole issue of ageing not challenging enough to spark interest and creative energy in both the industry and marketers?
Life and humanity need to be reassessed across age groups and across generations. The young, the future agers, the current agers, senior citizens, tomorrow’s old, the old, the oldest oldies, the healthy and less healthy, the disability-free or those with temporary or permanent disabilities, regardless of age, they can all provide great inspiration.
The cross-generation exchange will create value and give new meaning and purpose to all those involved. And this is the challenge, for us and for the industry.
Sociologists, anthropologists, psychologists, researchers and experts in socio-cultural transformations consider it essential that innovation and future be based on these prerequisites
- Intergenerational dialogue, to re-establish, promote, be used creatively and in a fertile and productive key;
- The passing on of experience and competence, made easier today by technology: both exquisitely human elements;
- Multiculturalism and inter-disciplinarity.
Humanity and empathy
As far back as 10 years ago, Alvin Toffler and Jeremy Rifkin, two world-renowned futurologists, discussed humanity, and empathy meant exactly as “human warmth”, as the acknowledgement of the other, as the ability to relate to his or her emotions and problems.
These same themes have been developed very acutely and with great sensitivity by other, contemporary sociologists,
Empathy requires a strong emotional connection between human beings, the power of which greatly transcends statistics and projections. We must restore this quality of connecting to the heart of a culture and an economy that are driven by business and profit. Empathy is a purely and uniquely human quality and an asset. What’s more, it is sustainable.
Diversity as well, on a par with empathy, is a natural resource, precious and available. Awareness, almost in an environmentalist mode, of the potential of diversity is increasing. And is certainly already widespread among the younger generations, that have grown up in diversity.
Diversity imposes mutual acknowledgement, sharing the responsibility of being human (each in his/her own peculiar way), and caring for this humanity, in the sense of both caring for and taking care of.
Care, caring for and taking care of are all human “processes” which evolve over time. The very concept of care, in all of its expressions and cultural specificities, should be analysed in a deeper and subtler way.
New forms of peer-to-peer cooperation will hopefully inject new strength and new inspiration into the profession. And more companies will include cultural diversity and culture-specificity in their talent teams. In addition to humanity and empathy, a wealth of talents are inbred in specific cultures which deserve to be understood in a more subtle, less stereotyped manner.
Cultural identity, cultural diversity and talent are all indeed exquisitely human.
|Clara Origlia is psychologist and a consumer and social researcher, a consumer insights expert. A moderator in Italian and French. Sensitivity, authenticity, openness and proven experience in handling the most challenging and ‘delicate’ research topics. A speaker and a trainer worldwide, also on behalf of ESOMAR. A firm, long-time believer in a multicultural, multidisciplinary, cross-generation perspective An innovator, Clara has developed agile research methods, her own projective techniques, holistic and hybrid research approaches that work effectively across countries and cultures . Founder of Market Dynamics International (1982-2012) a cutting-edge, responsive boutique agency specializing in international qualitative, creative and strategic research and consultancy. Now a freelance researcher and consultant .|