Consumer Shift: A book review by Bob Morris

Consumer Shift: How Changing Values Are Reshaping the Consumer Landscape
Andy Hines
No Limit Publishing (2011)

Here’s a GPS for those who now explore the consumer landscape

I agree with Andy Hines that “changing values are reshaping the consumer landscape” and that process has been underway since the first marketplaces were established in ancient Greek city-states (the Agora) and later in Italy (the Forvm Romanvm). Obviously, there are many influences on consumers’ values, notably those that are social and economic. That is, what is in style and affordable.

What Hines shares in this volume is based on proceedings and revelations at a “New Dimensions of Consumer Life” Futures Consortium meeting held on November 10, 2009, at the Willard Hotel in Washington (DC). The focus of the research and analysis is limited to an approximate timeframe that extends from “the seeds of the rethink [i.e. significant, disruptive changes] planted in the social fringes of the late 1960s and 1970s and are finally bearing fruit with the main stream today.” Hines estimates that by 2020, “the changes will be in full force.”

According to Hines, “At the core of the rethink are shifts [I view as paradigm shifts] toward postmodern values, and behind these are integral values reinforced by the Great Recession” now underway. He suggests that five key themes form the core of various significant, disruptive changes, “making a case for the consumer shift (note the acronym `ACASE’).” They are Authenticity, Connection, Anti-consumerism, Self-expression, and Enoughness. Hines rigorously explores each of them. People will continue to consume goods and services, he acknowledges, but will not only prefer but in fact demand a new relationship with those who provide them.

For me, some of the most interesting (and most valuable) material in the book focuses on what Hines characterizes as “The New Dimensions of Consumer Life” conceptual model. The details are best revealed within the narrative, in context, but I will point out that the model is based on a mindset that accommodates the five aforementioned, separate but interdependent themes, and, can guide and inform leaders in almost any organization (whatever its size or nature may be) when formulating and then implementing a game plan that is most appropriate to the given company’s (a) core business, (b) strategic goals and resources, and (c) its competitive marketplaces.

Hines provides a wealth of information, insights, and advice that have immediate and practical with regard to challenges, opportunities, and issues such as these:

o Why the consumer landscape is changing
o What’s going on [deep] inside consumers
o What’s being said to consummers
o How changing values are the single biggest influence on consumers
o How catalysts of change are shaping and being shaped by con summers
o What the changing consumer landscape will [soon] look like
o How to identify emerging need states (i.e. “consumer sweet spots”
o How to “bring the future to life” (i.e. “future personas”)
o Customizing the personas: the Persona Construction
o Customizing the personas: the Persona Construction Kit

It would be a fool’s errand for any reader to attempt to adopt and apply everything provided in this book. Hence the importance of working with a comprehensive, cohesive, and cost-effective framework such as the one Andy Hines proposes, “The New Dimensions of Consumer Life” conceptual model. He achieves his stated purposes: to explain how changing values are reshaping the consumer landscape, and, suggesting how best to respond effectively to changes that are occurring or will soon occur in a global business world in which change really is the only constant.


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