In March 2017, an endurance event took place in Australia. Not so new in concept but new to the current era, it combined the old-world charm of a challenge undertaken by Australian ancestors and new age technology.
The challenge was to ride a bike, completely self-supported across Australia, as close to non-stop as possible. It’s 5,500 kms. It’s a long way.
All accommodation, food, water, first aid and maintenance are self-organised.
Water and food were available on the course but only at certain times. Miss the aid station time slot and you could wait ten hours for access to supplies, or get back on your bike and ride 150 miles to the next service stop and try again.
The irony is that, although water wasn’t readily available, 4G was. Along the entire route, whatever their condition, riders could share their discomfort with the world on social media. Videos appeared on YouTube from riders and followers, and yet water remained harder to find.
Some believe this may be a peek into the actual future. At a time when wi-fi is getting closer to 100% coverage, peak water is a phenomenon not often discussed. It’s predicted that almost a third of the world’s population will struggle to find access to water by 2025 and the rest of us will experience water stress.
As a predictor of future consumer need, this is a good example of a mega-trend with a direct link back to you. What will it mean for consumer need and necessary product design? Bottled water is already cost comparable to petrol and more expensive than carbonated soft drinks in many cases. Can this continue or will we see a revaluing of water across consumer brands and in population supply?
To put the water issue into context: if your kids are just reaching school age, by the time they are doing exams the environmental outlook will be very different to the one we see today.
Future proofing certainly relies on taking note of trends reported in accessible media but there are more useful underlying trends available as insight, if we look.
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