“Growth means Experimenting.”

We caught up with Thimon De Jong, DAU 2016 Keynote Speaker and Director at Whetston, a strategic foresight think tank, to learn more about what human behaviour and strategic foresight can teach businesses wanting to grow. Thimon has presented for countless brands including Coca Cola, IKEA, and Samsung, he is internationally known for his insights.

Why should growth always be a main priority for businesses?
It’s simple; if you’re growing you’re heading in the right direction. Growth is a very general term and it usually means turning a profit, but growth can mean something very different for a business 5 years in the future. It starts becoming more about maintaining business for the next generation.
Brands should not only look at views, growth can come in many different forms. Figuring out what you need in terms of growth, it could be sustainability or increasing staff happiness levels.

What advice can you give a business having issues growing?
You have to be everywhere that your customers are, that’s the only way to truly make growth work. I would tell them to focus on future proofing their business- when a business is barely hanging on it doesn’t enhance the mood of the people working there. Innovating and changing with the times is the only way to keep growing.

Where do you see the future of retail and business in the next 10 years?
I see smart algorithms being the future, where your shopping preferences and personality are known even before you step through the door.
It will know you better than your family and friends; it’s the future of the industry.
Instead of brands targeting products you won’t be interested in, the experience will now be tailored to you for things you actually care about.

How will technology impact the way businesses use marketing?  
What would you do as a company if you knew everything about your clients?
What about your colleagues?
Knowing everything about everyone in your life?
The future is going to be very data driven. Where brands will have to try new things in order to adapt to the customers needs. It’s amazing that from data we can learn so much.

You’re speaking about “Future Human Behaviour in the Connected World,” what are a few things businesses should be taking into consideration as the world becomes much more connected?
I believe there will be a shift; companies will start going from a push to a pull. Customers will be seeking out brands rather than brands coming to them. Shopping will feel more localised and aimed towards customer preference and businesses will be able to grow according to what customers are looking for.

Do you have an example of a brand already doing a great job of experimenting and tailoring content?
Vodafone has been talking about using their physical stores to understand customers on a different level. They want to create new tech that lets staff know when an existing customer walks into the shop and when their contract expires. Chances are the customer is coming into the company to purchase a new phone or update their existing plan; it makes the experience much easier. Vodafone don’t know if customers will enjoy this new tech, they may not know if this is even a viable option, but they wont know unless they experiment and try to see what works.

Netflix is a great example of a brand already doing amazing targeting. Content recommendations are the biggest part of their business. If a customer enjoys something, chances are they will want something else similar. They have even branched into custom content. They spend time creating custom content around popular watch history from users.
Netflix learns the behaviour of their customers; studying which movies to recommend based around which movies were enjoyed and which ones they did not.

How quickly do you think these changes will happen?
We wont know how quickly this change will happen, all we know is that it will happen, we wont know if it will be a black swan effect or if it will be more gradual where we don’t realise it until we look back at the past.

You also speak about the effect technology has on the consumer, what role do you see technology playing in the future?
Smart phone addictions are very similar to the effect of cocaine, people are addicted to being connected and it’s bringing a new generation of digital zombies. The number of young people checking their phones multiple times a day keeps rising.
In the future we could see our phone as more of a digital butler, where it’s there when we need it instead of being there the entire time. It can tell when we aren’t busy and let brands know when we want to be targeted rather than being overloaded when you’re busy or at work and unable to dedicate your attention to a product.

It’s important to find a digital balance, heading towards a future where we can enjoy the world and still be connected.

Thimon will be kicking off DAU 2016 with his presentation Future Human Behaviour in the Connected Society on September 22nd at Rich Mix.
Reserve your spot today to hear more amazing insights, take a peek at our agenda here!

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