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Radical reinvention for the post consumption economy

March 12, 2009

This latest downturn, recession, depression, or whatever you like to call it has gotten people scared.

There’s simply no way to see ahead to work out when this is all going to be over and life and business will return to normal.

However, there’s certainly an expectation from most people that things will eventually return back to normality, with the only question being when this will happen?

What if their expectations are wrong?

What if we are going through a giant “RESET” and there will be no return to normal, just a new post-depression era.

Perhaps we are undergoing a shift, one that’s so massive, it will be impossible to get back to what happened in the past and from the so called ashes of our past, perhaps a new more viable future will emerge with dozens of new business models emerging.

Maybe this is equivalent to the Industrial Revolution, the arrival of the Internet and the rise of Knowledge, all happening at the same time.

If this is the case, the imperative for every business is radical reinvention, a massive challenge for businesses who are thinking how they might survive the next 12 months, let alone being around in 5 years.

There are some signals already that suggest this might be the case; the shift from negative saving for US consumers, to the current 5% of income, is a big change that might not be temporary. The fall off in credit and the push to saving means a lot less disposable income floating around the system and therefore a much more challenging time for brands trying to chase these dollars.

While it’s an uncomfortable consideration for many who can only imagine the capitalist system, there are many who understand the environment and believe we can only survive if we radically reduce our consumption of energy, which basically means consuming less energy and buying fewer products.

Saul Griffith is someone who practices what he preaches, not only does he know how to measure and track personal energy consumption, he also makes an effort to reduce his own.

While Saul Griffith might be right and acting in the earth’s best interest, there are few in the world of business and politics who would happily embrace his vision,because it counters to everything we know; people need to buy stuff to keep people in work and fuel the economy by creating and spreading wealth.

However, if people put the brakes on buying stuff and the earth can’t sustain it, what happens next?

What comes after the consumer society?

Posted by Ed Cotton

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