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Foresight, the muse of the K Grocery Trade strategy

The most personal and valued customer experience is the vision of the K Grocery trade. As the world keeps on spinning faster than ever before, we have to focus like a laser not only on the changing customer needs and wants but also our surroundings to reach this vision. The fact that we have a clear focus in our strategy helps us exploit the possibilities that customers value the most and therefore be the forerunners of the industry time after time.

Foresight helps you to prioritize, if you have a clear strategy

We have a strategy, let’s just focus on executing it! No guys, it just does not work that way anymore. Many companies are lacking the understanding that what is about to happen outside their company and therefore fail to adjust their strategy in time. Secondly the company vision is often the most blurred tool in the strategy box, since its said to be something to go for but achieving it shouldn’t be easy. I’m not saying to ditch the strategy or keep on changing the vision all the time, but great foresight work gives you tools to prioritize - food for thought and different perspectives on how to jump on the possibilities that lie ahead and minimize the turbulence when facing obstacles during the strategy implementation process while chasing that vision. The worst nightmare a company could have is a leader that lacks the roadmap and tools to achieve the vision. The simplest thing you can do is to continuously monitor the surroundings of your business – this could be as small as updating a PESTE-analysis on a regularly basis, since the model is very easy to understand.  

Everyone is different, when it comes futures consciousness

Yay, a megatrend workshop! Duh, a complete waste of my time. Many times these are the feelings people feel while attending foresight projects. The thing what people who facilitate foresight in their organization often lack, is the understanding the differences how the participants perceive the future – researchers Ahvenharju, Minkkinen and Lalot have been able to define the five dimensions of futures consciousness at Turku University. These dimensions tend to show where the strengths’ of the different participants lie and the best mix and match is people with different strengths: 

  1. Time perspective is the ability to be aware of the past, present and future, as well as the way events follow each other over time. The human capacity for imagining the future may vary from person to person, and some are more capable of long-term thinking than others.
  2. Agency Beliefs are a basic sense of confidence that an individual has in their own ability to influence the external world. An essential part of agency is one’s capability for differentiating between the issues that cannot be influenced and those that can, and by whom.
  3. Openness to alternatives is composed of abilities used to critically question commonly accepted ideas and influences an individual’s willingness to consider alternative ways of being and doing. Openness prepares individuals for the fact that the future may surprise them.
  4. Systems perception is the ability to recognize human and natural systems around us including groups, societies and ecosystems. Systemic and holistic approaches – rather than linear and hierarchical ways of thinking – facilitate a better understanding of long-term consequences of decisions as well as the potential interactions and interdependencies related to them.
  5. Concern for others relates to the degree to which an individual pursues favorable futures for a group beyond themselves. It steers individuals away from purely selfish endeavors towards actions and behavior that give a feeling of connection to something greater than oneself bettering not only one’s own future, but the future of others, of society, and even future of generations yet unborn.

Read more: https://futuresconsciousness.utu.fi/concept/

So what should you take from this? Please make sure that you understand that people have different perspectives and capabilities in futures consciousness. Help people to understand their strengths’ and weaknesses and involve people to bring out their best. Foresight is a journey with those who drive, and others can take pitstops rather than be dragged along the entire way. 

There’s no Pandora’s box

You are lacking concreteness! If you think that foresight is equal to having a peek at megatrends through reports every now and then, you have understood it oh so wrong. But there is no Pandora’s box either. Understanding megatrends and their impacts on your business are very important and therefore you have to have a toolkit to tie these trends to the context of your business – do you understand how urbanization or ageing will change your business in numbers the coming 10 years? We surely do and that helps us plan ahead. 

Secondly the megatrends need to be implemented into implications into much deeper levels than the top management – for example understanding the impact individualism on the level of our branding and marketing is crucial in creating more personal and valued brand experiences. Or even anticipating the impact on sustainable development in our private labels, helps us be forerunners already today. At K we facilitate different teams and different levels of the organization to understand the impacts of the future directly in their work. This means that we work and involve hundreds of people to take part in futures thinking every year and we have predesigned materials and toolkits to facilitate this work in teams throughout the organization. Foresight is not waterfall management, when it happens on all the levels of the organization in our daily work, that’s where the magic happens.

Kesko employee standing among Kesko products and services

Digitalization is gear #6

Oh, so much has happened in one year! Said one of my colleagues. I always in these instances positively encourage oh, you just have seen nothing yet and you are going to love the ride! Prior to retail I used to work as a consultant for the media, telecom and the banking industry – and as we all know, digitalization has completely changed these industries by wiping out many of the physical contact points for interaction. Especially grocery trade is taking just its very first steps in this transformation, but it remains to be seen how digital this industry is about to go. As far as I know it, no one is developing digital food, yet! Jokes aside the COVID-19 pandemic developed grocery shopping online to its new heights and at K we really invest in improving these services for our customers. However, in grocery retail we get to enjoy the experiences of other businesses that have been in the front the digital transformation – these industries actually give K a trampoline to jump even higher in our development and reach for something that the world has not seen yet. The best reward however are our customers, in the past years we have received positive feedback that our efforts are giving back, people are loving the new services and ways to shop online!

There are not one, but alternative futures

So Marty you said people would drive flying cars, but they did not. Take responsibility in measuring on what speed the impacts are rolling in to your business – often we tend to overestimate the speed of something changing, but the real problem is that we did not keep on tracking the change in the first phase. At K we have Kylä, which is a community of 23.000 customers who help us develop K and together with these Kylä-members we keep on having a continuous dialogue on how trends impact their lives. While having continuity on this tracking we keep on spotting the changes at a fairly early stage and that gives us room for planning. However, the most important thing is to understand that there are alterative futures – if you keep on tracking only one point-of-view, you might miss the emerging new possibilities. 

The future of retail revealed: Read our thought-provoking speculations on how people will buy groceries in the future. Download the Future of Retail 2030 Vision - with insights on opportunities for retailers, trend materials and future scenarios.

About the author

Heidi Jungar (M.Sc.) is the Insight, Brand and Content Director at K-Group Grocery trade. She is an experienced customer insight and brand strategist, but also a certified foresight professional (CFP) on a mission to live the change. She has worked with retail and FMCG brands for over 17 years and the past years she has been a part of the team transforming the K and its retail brands towards more customer centric and purposeful paths. In her work she focuses on the emerging customer needs and possibilities of the future combined with design thinking and observational research.

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