Futures Brief: The Consumer Business Models of the Future

We believe that smart-ups create the success stories of the future. This Futures Brief helps us to think, act and develop like a smart-up.

The decades to come will be marked by decarbonisation, urbanisation, climate change, the depletion of natural resources and the pursuit of the circular economy. At the same time, the global middle class is growing, digitalisation is penetrating all societies, and Millennials will propel changes in consumer behaviour. These drivers will shape the economy, test the resilience of businesses, and create a need for sustainable ways to achieve a sustainable standard of living.

Furthermore, it is the eleventh hour to start fighting climate change with radical actions.

About one-third of the global population belongs to the consuming middle class – and their behaviour is changing. Millennials are projected to overtake Baby Boomers as America’s largest generation group in 2019. Baby Boomers enjoyed cheap energy, abundant resources and freedom granted by private car ownership. Millennials are less likely to have driver’s licenses, they reject the necessity of ownership, embrace digitalisation and value premium user experiences.

Smart-ups rethinking business models

The industrial economy needs new alternatives. A crucial question is how to identify compelling new opportunities deriving from global trends and challenges, and how businesses can deliver winning products and services that take into account the cornerstones of sustainability.

”Environmental values are a significant factor to most of the global middle class. But only a tenth of this group sees them as the most important factor guiding purchases.”

We call these game-changing companies smartups. Their value proposition serves a growing number of environmental, social or economic needs in society and the life of consumers. They rethink energy infrastructure, mobility services, spaces, commodities and our kitchens – while often offering a premium user experience. Smart-ups disturb and sometimes disrupt entire industries while gradually liberating us from a dependency on natural resources and CO2 emissions.

This Future Brief explains new business models needed for transforming our economy. It is based on a long-term work of Demos Helsinki, where we have been working together with big and small companies and entrepreneurs forerunning in the consumer cleantech business.

We thank The Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation for supporting this work. This paper is also part of the SmartUp Accelerator project, funded by Interreg Baltic Sea Region as part of European Regional Development Fund.

What you will learn from this Futures Brief?

Five major shifts that enable a new type of business

– Consumers: what about them do we need to understand?

– Four myths about consumer behaviour

– Climate change, the biggest business opportunity in the world

Download the Futures Brief to learn more.

Demos Helsinki builds and executes strategies for the future, and align them with what’s best for our planet. Organizations need to participate in groundbreaking cooperation to achieve systemic change. Since we have a long experience of working with both public administration and the business world, we can create partnerships that are genuinely unconventional.

We need you to join us in building sustainable and fair post-industrial societies. Contact our team.