A changing world - individualism as a new measure of value in society

The only constant is change. How global trends challenge the capital goods industry and force it to react quickly.

We humans love consistency – things you can rely on. This was true yesterday and will still be true tomorrow. Nevertheless, change has always been there. Usually gradual change, but sometimes change of a dramatic nature. 

Change is natural. Only the speed of change is variable. 

Let’s consider the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century. The transition from agricultural to industrial society left no area of social life untouched. It created new social classes, challenged individual values, and greatly influenced the political landscape. These changes were so wide reaching and took place so quickly that it can only be described as a revolution.

From oil lamps to cloud computing in the space of a single generation

In fact since this revolution, the pace of change has been continually increasing. My father had oil lamps at home and for him, the radio was still a marvel. And yet today, we dedicate our thoughts to cloud computing and social networks. It is really only a matter of time before I can no longer understand all the things that are topical for my children. 

Possessions are no longer important. Individualism is the new differentiator. 

The increased speed of change is not the only consequence of the Industrial Revolution. Industrial production meant that products could be manufactured less expensively and were therefore affordable for a wider section of the population. Just owning goods therefore became less and less important as a distinction between people. Nevertheless, the desire to be different is an innate part of human nature, so a new vehicle had to be found. This was done by creating products that themselves had differentiating features, and were thus able to convey their individuality. Today, there is already a market for providers who specialize in the production of goods for individualization, from mobile phones to new varieties of muesli. The growth of the car tuning market is not primarily a result of the desire for higher performance vehicles. It is much more an expression of individuality in design. The trend towards individualism is once again changing values, and with this, the economy – on a global scale. It is a long-term and stable phenomenon, and as such, is one of the most powerful megatrends. 

The consequences of the megatrend “individualism” for the industry can already be seen: steadily increasing variance in the market with smaller batch sizes per variant and more and more cost pressure. It is therefore vital to respond to this…