Driving to a new destination, especially one far away, used to be a real test of both planning and patience. You first had to open a physical map book, plot out different options based on rough distances (measured with a piece of string for those particularly, well, particular), and take into account speed limits and your own estimated likelihood of traffic. Once plotted out, you then had to actually find your way, relying on good signposting and, sometimes, a navigator to help (or hinder) you.
These days, we rely on technology to do all the hard work. Simply enter the postcode or address of where you want to go, and the satnav will direct you on the optimum route, taking into account live traffic conditions and any other preferences you have for your journey.
Of course, there are many great benefits of this transformation. However, you could argue that despite gaining in convenience, we have lost something in consciousness. We trust technology, sometimes to ridiculous degrees as evidenced by the numerous stories that surface of drivers travelling hundreds of miles in the wrong direction following a mistyped address into their satnavs. Thankfully, the manufacturers of satnavs (or navigation apps on smartphones) would appear to have little incentive to do anything other than take us on our optimal route.
But what about other areas of life, and the retail world in particular? Much has been made of the modern “savvy” shopper, empowered by technology and increasingly concerned with both price and provenance. But the other big factor, for time-poor shoppers, is convenience. Are we ceding too many of our conscious choices to the portfolio, promotions and packaging the industry presents? And do we really have the wide array of choices we think we have?
Have retailers realised and embraced the responsibility they have to help consumers make informed decisions about what they buy, both in terms of provenance as well as health & nutrition? We’ll be investigating what consumers should be asking for (and how they can find it) as well as how retailers and manufacturers can see this as an opportunity, rather than a challenge, to differentiate themselves and be more purposeful with the impact which they undoubtedly have. Watch this space over the coming months for ideas, insight and inspiration.