Preferring natural solutions where available
Au Naturale is the second of the four need states at the core of our first meta-need “Keeping it real” in ConsumerShift.
The core need for these consumers is an appreciation of the beauty and wisdom of nature. It is not totally an aesthetic appreciation, but a sense that the evolution of nature contains within it some lessons that people would do well to pay attention to. They are getting back in touch with nature and natural approaches, bringing that sensibility with them into consumer situations.
This need state, like “The authenticity premium,” also is motivated in part on perceived excesses of the modern world. It crystallizes around the sense that technology, while a valuable tool in enabling growth and progress during modernization, has consequences that bring its value proposition into question. They have become skeptical about the benefits of technology and feel that the technology cure is in some cases worse than the disease. It is not necessarily an inherently anti-technology sentiment, but one that raises questions about it. Is it really necessary? Does it make things better? Are there harmful consequences? These types of questions were rarely asked during the modernizing phase, where the focus was on economic growth. This can perhaps be summed up best by former President Bill Clinton’s campaign slogan, “It’s the economy, stupid!”
These consumers see hubris in the modernizing world. The sense that man reigns supreme over nature—that nature was to be conquered by the superior intelligence of humans—was a largely unquestioned assumption during modernization. Technological approaches are seen as inherently superior to natural ones. Efficiency is a key value in the modern world, which often runs counter to nature’s messy approach of resiliency and redundancy. These consumers see wisdom in this inefficiency in terms of creating systems that are more robust over the long term. In the past, for example, wetlands, were often done away with to suit the desire for more development space, despite the knowledge that wetlands play important roles in the ecosystem, such as providing filtration and outlets for flooding. The damage inflicted by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans highlights the differing approaches. Instead of relying on wetlands and natural approaches to flood management, a system of dikes and barriers was engineered as a more “efficient” approach. Critics suggest that a more natural approach might have spared New Orleans from such severe damage. The consumers in this need state will have a bias toward natural approaches, and will be skeptical of totally engineered ones—though not averse to combining the best of both. Andy Hines