Okay, time for the final truth. In a nutshell: we’re in the middle of an epic power shift away from institutions – think government, social organizations, big business and more – and towards the individual. And really, this one is a higher level truth that contains all the other four. Which means we can keep the theorizing short for this one ;)

We’ve already talked about four powerful strands of TRUTHFUL CONSUMERISM. Ever-greater transparency and the power it gives individuals to know almost anything, often instantly. A growing global middle class and its endless choice-fueled aspiration. Rising demands that powerful organizations leave positive impact. Ever-more individuals agreeing with the fundamental principle of tolerance: that everyone deserves human dignity, a voice, and a fair shot.

5Truths together

Empowered: individually & together

There’s no need to reiterate the deep drivers pushing all those changes forward. But here are a few powerful signs of a world in which power is flowing away from traditional centers of power and towards individuals.

First, one proxy for power is one’s ability to deliver accurate, reliable, trusted information. For centuries this power rested in institutions, whether they be tribal, religious, national, secular or academic. Now?

People now trust other people like themselves more than representatives of traditional power centers, and as much as academic or technical experts.


Meanwhile, individuals in connected societies are taking charge of their working lives in new ways and breaking the traditional idea of ‘employment’ as something an individual does for an organization. A full 24% of American adults have earned money in the digital ‘platform economy’ over the last year. Yet money was not the primary factor for many:


And signals of the shift towards empowered individuals are coming from all over the globe. Just look at Nji Collins Gbah, the 17-year-old Cameroonian who won a Google coding competition in November 2016.

From individual empowerment to collective action.

But don’t set your sights too narrow when thinking about empowerment. As mass institutions find themselves losing power and control, minority – or just previously-marginalized – groups will be empowered. Individuals can now take action in ever-more targeted and personally meaningful ways to support the communities of their choice. Just witness the $9 million raised on GoFundMe by 120,000 donors in 120 countries to support victims of the Florida Pulse shooting.

And this wave of empowerment is really just getting started. Crowdfunding is perhaps the business model innovation of the past decade that best showed how liberated individuals (and ultimately shared communities) were from established corporate institutions.

Next: the blockchain, with its truly decentralized and distributed authority, promises to be an order of magnitude more disruptive. Are you ready? ;)


Innovation Examples

Featuring Sprint, Code4Nation, First Bank of Nigeria and more…

Take Action

Really, this truth is useful as a guide to all your thinking when it comes to TRUTHFUL CONSUMERISM. If you’re innovating around transparency, aspiration, positive impact and tolerance, then you’re likely to be empowering individuals, too.

The direction of travel that’s seeing power shift away from big institutions and towards individuals is massively powerful. It’s already changed the nature of business, and society at large, in profound and fundamental ways.

Which is why in 2017 and beyond, if you’re not a brand that’s basing your thinking around the simple question, ‘how are we empowering our customers?’ then you’re swimming against a powerful tide. And dare we suggest it’s a battle you won’t win ;)



Never miss a TrendWatching Quarterly Briefing!