By the beginning of 2014 almost 35% of people globally worked remotely thanks, to developments in digital technology. But this trend is also inspiring new lightweight lifestyles – where ownership is abandoned in favour of access and sharing.
Global Experience Hunters
Among the ultra mobile Global Citizens, ‘lightweight’ is now an established mindset. As they set out to explore the world, their attitudes to home and ownership are changing. These digital natives are self-styled experts who just hit the net when they need something, creating their own rules. They are setting new standards in virtually all areas of society, shaping how we will live and consume in the future. Open to new cultures, they happily migrate for career and life experiences – adopting ‘lightweight’ as their new norm.
Mobility and Sharing
I absolutely believe that the ‘lightweight’ trend is here to stay, as we see more and more people favouring access over possessions – and this is already impacting consumption, lifestyle choices, business practices and how we operate as a society. New ‘lightweight’ business models with a plethora of services are already successfully serving a highly mobile user-base in real-time. The sharing economy is booming, with Cloud intelligence and disruptive technologies enabling a whole new arena for ‘lightweight thinking’.
Today we tend to measure ‘value’ in term of experiences rather than material objects – we collect treasured experiences that can be shared. Collaboration started with music, games and films, then it moved to cars, bicycles, workspaces and even living spaces. Now it’s spreading fast into most sectors globally, sparking some panic but also innovative new business idea. Evidence suggests that online communities and affinity networks have made people more open to the idea of sharing with strangers, meaning that the social media revolution has broken down conventional distrust barriers.
A generation of ‘Subscribers’
Increasingly people are concluding that there is more to life than just owning ‘stuff’. They willingly adapt to ‘lightweight’ cost-friendly subscription over ‘heavy’ cost-intense ownership – and freedom from the trappings of possessions makes them agile and mobile. By 2020, the Millennials will form 50% of the workforce and undertake most international work assignments. This group also loves sharing – currently we post 30 billion pieces of content on Facebook monthly and 175 million tweets daily, with the majority of users being Millennials.
Sharing becomes WEconomics
As I see it platforms and tools for sharing goods and services are laying the groundwork for a more inclusive economy. Mobile technologies will play a critical role in building large-scale sharing communities for the future. With a global growth of 60% in 2012, crowdfunding platforms are set to explode. Increasingly, people will want to own a share in the startups they buy from – being respected partners rather than just consumers. Caring means sharing ‘ownership’ and ensuring that all initiatives deliver mutual benefits – I call this WEconomics.
Ownership versus Access
Last, but not least, Millennials expect seamless services wherever they go and we will see revolutionary new models emerging in politics, economics, education and healthcare – completely reshaping society and business. At the end of the day, ‘lightweight’ is a mindset that will be adopted at different speeds and for various reasons. The early adopters embrace ‘autonomy’, followers look for ‘convenience’ and the last to adopt will accept the new world order because it makes ‘sound business sense’ or because there are no other options.
In search of the Good Life
Moving on through the 21st-century, we increasingly distinguish between ‘real needs’ and ‘needless desires’. Eventually, we look to make more informed choices and might find it makes us feel better to say ‘YES’ to sharing not owning. Tomorrow’s consumer behaviour and mindset will be shaped by various influences and circumstances, including disruptive technologies, more mobility, new economic models and – ultimately – our deep-seated desire to find ‘The Good Life’.
Images, All Kjaer Global
1) Wearable Technology
2) Art Installation Claire Healy & Sean Cordeiro
3) Whole Earth? Aligning Human Systems and Natural Systems
4) Consumption Infographics
5) Book Art Installation
6) Peter Cochrane OBE – Virgin Media Roundtable
* Generation ‘Asset-Light’ – Mary Meeker at Stanford University