On the real ‘guiding cultures’ in Germany

If business is about making a bet about people’s future behavior, then how can we best predict the ways in which people experience and behave? As cultural consumer researchers, we firmly believe that context must always be taken into account. For as contexts change, the attitudes and behavior of people change as well.

Trends are thus nothing but emerging new contexts which confront people, eliciting behaviors from them. The swirling interplay of trends and countertrends gives rise to new guiding ideologies that create new demands.

Our consumer trend research is currently focused on eleven virulent currents which are emerging as new and relevant behaviors and attitudes in society. In patterns identified in socio-cultural signals we recognize the motivations, hopes and fears that pervade ‑ and will be pervading ‑ society.

Behind or above trend currents are ideas about what people currently consider to be a “better” life – a life with meaning and direction. We call these life-guiding ideologies Future Mindsets. Every Future Mindset is driven by another “promise of happiness” (Stendhal). These guiding ideologies find followers in consumer discourse, thus playing a formative role in consumer style. All of us can feel drawn to multiple guiding ideologies at once, and have a different mindset in different areas. But let’s first take a look at them.

1. Nesters

Nesters have a need for emotional and social stability, integrity and guardrails in a complex world. Their closest circle of relatives is the most important thing to them ‑ their partner, family and home are their nest. Consumers with this mindset desire to be treated personally and with empathy; they want to recognize themselves in brands and the products they use, having a trusting and conscious relationship with them. With digitalization, simple skin contact is becoming increasingly lost to us, leaving us absolutely hungry for touch.

2. Considerates

Considerates are looking to realize a vision of a better life for themselves and the environment. They have a pronounced sense of responsibility and strong community-oriented values. They seek possibilities to bring about a more sustainable and more meaningful co-existence in times of social, ecological and economic insecurity.

3. Nowist

Full of curiosity and impelled to self-realization and action, NOWists are always looking for ways to broaden their horizons. NOWists live hedonically in the here and now, and are more prone to taking risks than to forging big, hard-to-achieve plans for the future.

4. Autonomics

Self-determined and reasonable, autonomists are driven to seek independence and self-efficacy—socially as well as mentally. Autonomists want recognition as individuals and to be different by virtue of having new experiences and engaging in superior self-design. Consumers in this mindset want to strengthen themselves and amplify their resources so as to be fit and flexible for all options. They program and experiment with themselves, increasing their personal reach and widening their physical, mental and social fields of play.

5. Counter Punks

And then there is the emerging Counter Punk mindset. People with this mindset like to make their own decisions and demonstrate willpower, living in opposition to relativization and passively enduring life. New media formats indicate clearly how in today’s world there is no room for “maybe”. Consumers are showing their individual position in society—taking things back into their own hands at last. Revolt, Disrupt, Rebel.

These consumer ideologies are the new beliefs consumers form with regard to markets which inform their behavior. These beliefs guide what I want to take out a loan for and in what manner, for example, and what and how I want to eat. They define our fundamental goals and motivations within categories. Modern marketing thus always has to take the consumer as starting point, and his/her cultural consumer ideology.

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Author: Stefan Baumann

Consumer psychologist Stefan Baumann develops brand visions and concepts of transformation and innovation based on insights about changing consumer cultures.

sbaumann@sturmunddrang.de