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OPINION! Futurologist Dr. Eike Wenzel: "If I could see into the future, I wouldn't write any studies!"

Dr. Eike Wenzel, author and consultant at the Zukunftsinstitut, on economic trends, the media crisis, the power of Google, Richard David Precht and the Sense and nonsense of trend and future research.

The PhD in media studies initially worked as a radio and TV journalist with a focus on voice, media and business, before turning to acquaintance with Matthias Horx, the founder of the Zukunftsinstitut, futures research.

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Mr. Dr. Wenzel, this year you published two studies, namely “The Matrix of Change. What the world looks like after the crisis "and" Meaning markets. The change in values ​​in the consumer world ". Please explain briefly what it is about.

In “The Matrix of Change” we wanted to react quickly to the economic crisis and work out: “What are the topics for the near future? Where is the change? What will be important in the near future? In the case of the “markets of meaning”, it was more about showing the fundamental changes that are currently taking place in our society; namely that more and more people no longer want to consume standard offers cheaply at any price, but rather seek conscious individual experiences and are willing to spend a lot of money on them.

What are you up to?

For example in tourism: Ballermann mass tourism is no longer attractive for many. Even today, 20% of all tourists are individual travelers looking for very special experiences. For example, there are bicycle pilgrimages to Assisi, holidays in a hermitage on Sinai or nomad holidays in Chile. In Australia, for example, there is a luxury eco-resort with a rainforest villa, regional food, and special Aboriginal applications in the Spa and a solar powered hot tub. All ideas that make good money.

Their title sense markets sounds quite spiritual!

That is the point. Today people want to think more about meaning and have a growing need for immaterial values. And you want to be enchanted. For example, a guide market is a growth market. A study by the Institute for Religious Studies at the University of Bochum shows, for example, that esoteric and alternative offers in NRW are demanded annually by around 150.000 people. Meanwhile 2.500 centers, institutes and curative practices in NRW are to offer esoteric services.

How do you personally face the esoteric boom?

Personally, that scares me ...

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... but you don't notice anything in your study!

Right, the study only implies that esotericism is ethically and morally problematic. It's much more about showing that the trend is there and that you have to deal with it. Because the church has slept through this development completely and the economy, apart from the book publishers, has hardly recognized the potential so far. Have along Company here a wide variety of possibilities - just think of the small tea manufacturer with special types of tea ...

But is not that something bigott, on the one hand, the trend itself dubious, but on the other hand to make advertising?

No, you shouldn't leave the field to esotericism - you can do very good and important things with this topic - especially in the media and in the cultural sector. Take Peter Sloterdijk, for example, who is enjoying great success with his new book “You have to change your life”.

Or Richard David Precht.

He has written a smooth bestseller, which makes things much easier for me. Precht was then lucky that Elke Heidenreich reported in time. But, of course, Precht's success shows the trend towards more profound topics.

Apropos: According to their study, education and culture are promising markets. What is the best way to save money in the crisis?

Yes, exactly, because culture is reaching more and more people today. For example, the Metropolitan Opera in New York is broadcasting its productions in cinemas with great success. The British commercial broadcaster Classic FM had 4 million listeners per week within 4,2 months. That Concept ABC School Joke Oud: He provides classical pieces of music with explanatory tests. This shows that we must not leave classical culture to the educated citizens, but bring it into everyday life. This is happening in the music industry right now, here a lot more stars are playing live again today. As a result, many people have more open access to music.

But many stars must also live again, because the Internet sell their records badly. At the moment there are similar developments in the media sector. How do you see this as a journalist and author?

The internet is now there and we can not go past it. But this is also positive: Today, more and more people are becoming more and more accessible to the public, there are more diversity and small blogs. I also find it good that google scans my books for better retrieval on the Internet and I still get money for it. However, one would have to control Google more.

Can you understand that the newspapers, their subscribers and advertisers are migrating to the internet, not quite as positive?

Ja clearwho have overslept this development out of habit and now have to cut jobs. And of course, daily newspapers cannot fully compensate for their losses on the Internet - they need new business models, a new direction. For example, a newspaper as faceless as the Frankfurter Rundschau cannot survive with the previous models.

How do the new business models look like on the Internet?

I believe that there will be two revenue models in the future: advertising and paid content. Because managers in particular, as I know from everyday consulting, love good content. And the Financial Times has successfully shown how to use this potential by selling 117 corporate subscriptions worldwide.

Where you are addressing your own customers: What are those people for whom you are creating such studies?

As a rule, the managers and companies who want to inform themselves about future trends.

And how do you go about identifying future economic trends? Can the future be predicted at all?

If I could predict the future, I would not have to write any studies! But seriously: we do not operate an Orakelei, but try to describe social change processes. We look at what happens today, think about it, make studies and interviews. So we identify phenomena and try to explain them. In the end, we are trying to analyze how the economy will evolve over the next ten years. We also make statements on the long-term major trends, so-called megatrends, which will become important in the next 40-50 years.

Were there already trend developments that you have successfully predicted?

For example, in 2002 we started studying LOHAS and ecology in studies. At that time it was not a trend topic. We then continued to pursue this: Today it is considered the new lifestyle, which also has nothing to do with the previous organic muesli image. On the contrary, companies that are not ecologically oriented in the future Greenomics will have problems surviving.

In your study so many examples come from the US. Are they actually transferable to Germany? Especially in terms of ecology, the US is rather backward compared to Germany.

Of course you have to be careful when transferring examples - you can only do that if you know the market. But the US still has a pioneering role in many areas. And just in terms of ecology, we wanted to show that there is also a Greenomics movement over there and that, for example, they are now also starting to build eco-houses.

Could one say that future research is like market research, but for a longer period?

No, market research is trying to deduce from the present evidence how the market will look tomorrow. Future research is not at all as dogmatic: how, through our research, we offer different contexts and say that there is high probability that the future will look like this. But we do not say it will certainly be so. Our theses have yet to be verified.

This sounds a little different in her study!

Yes, this is due to our clientele: they want to read clear results and the direct benefits in such studies. In order to explain the various phenomena, I then resort to the means of overpointing, in order to reach the companies also with topics, which are not popular for them, like something sustainability. On this basis you can then talk with the companies, what exactly that means and what you can make of it.

And can companies do something with it? Do topics such as sustainability, environmental responsibility or more culture not only remain empty worthworms?

They would wonder how much companies are interested in these topics. Because they also realize that their customers suddenly tick differently and make very different demands. Those who have already had similar experiences then also look for answers to these changes. I also notice this every week in the consulting everyday.

What do you advise entrepreneurs who want to invest in a future-oriented industry?

Clearly, the classic target group pattern. Fixed target groups disappear today more and more. Rather, one should look at current trends and waves in development, such as individual and personal products, health and enjoyment.

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10 responses to “OPINION! Futurologist Dr. Eike Wenzel: "If I could see into the future, I wouldn't write any studies!" "

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