Future proofing innovation

Future proofing innovation

As the world continues to change – with change being the only constant – we need to anticipate the future. Analyzing that change in terms of trends helps us to envision the shape of the world for years to come, so we can begin to understand what future consumers may want.

“Covestro takes the lead in understanding and interpreting trends and mapping them into our business,” says Stephan Preussler, Manager of Consumer & Industry Insights at Global PUR Marketing Communications. “We need to anticipate the future – by analysing trends, we are better prepared for what lies ahead and can cater for people’s needs in innovative ways. We can take advantage of the changes arising in this fast-moving world and capitalize on them. No-one can guarantee to correctly predict the future but trends do help us better anticipate people’s unarticulated, future desires and dreams.”

Trends articulate shifts in consumer values. “By looking at trends closely we can gain awareness of what’s happening both in and outside the industry,” says Stephan.  “We can understand more about how people are influenced and how business is impacted. This helps us draw conclusions about the future, leading to future products and strategic decisions. It’s also one of the starting points of innovation.”

Changes in consumption culture

Climate change is one of the greatest global challenges of the 21st century and one of the key megatrends – the great forces in societal development affecting the future across all areas of economy and society.

Megatrends can reshape whole societies and affect all stages of life. They are global, sustained and macro economic forces, visible around the world, albeit with regional differences, and long lasting, with effects over many decades. And they’re highly probable, with estimated development relatively well predicted over the coming years. Mega trends define our future and the increasing pace of change.

‘Renewable energy sources are ever more important and improving energy efficiency is central to our innovation’

On a daily basis, we are reminded of the negative impact that consumption may have on the planet, even our individual wellbeing. We’re all too aware of changes like global temperature increases, the decline of Artic ice, rising sea levels and melting glaciers. At the same time, consumer culture is being profoundly shaped by sustainability – products are judged from a moral perspective and consumer decisions are more conscientious than in the past. Meanwhile new technology is creating alternatives to the throwaway society. Businesses and individuals alike are aware of the impact of our modern lifestyle and have come to realize that sustainability means taking responsibility for future generations.

“This brings challenges,” Stephan says. “We have to mitigate the cost and consequences of climate change and conserve our use of fossil fuels.

“But there are also opportunities, for example, unlocking new forms of otherwise wasted resources. Renewable energy sources are ever more important and improving energy efficiency is central to our innovation. One of the key products that Covestro has developed to address the need for alternative sources is cardyon™ which contains up to 20% carbon dioxide, created by mixing a catalyst with CO2 instead of fossil based raw material which can then be used for the production of high quality flexible polyurethane foam.

Understanding the need for a sustainable future

As consumers become better informed and increasingly sophisticated about sustainability, they’re demanding yet more from brands. They have realized they are able to have long-term influence through their purchasing behavior and make a contribution to a more sustainable world through ethical consumption.

They want to see broader, clever thinking from the brands they use – real demonstrations of how brands turn resources that might otherwise be wasted into something of value, for the good of society and the planet.

On the other hand, they don’t necessarily want to forgo doing the things they love so they look to brands to offset any negative impact by implementing products, services and initiatives that are as eco-friendly and sustainable as possible.

“So much of what we do is focused on enabling populations around the world to live a better life and enjoy a sustainable future by facilitating their lifestyles and reducing negative impacts. One further example is our first ever wind turbine blade made with polyurethane, a game-changing innovation poised to make renewable energy affordable and attainable for all,” says Ulrich Liman, Global Head of R&D, PUR. “We align our entrepreneurial conduct in its entirety with sustainability because we are deeply committed to interacting carefully with our ecological systems.”

With 80 years of experience and over 15,000 employees worldwide, Covestro’s product portfolio enables it to develop solutions for the greatest challenges of society today. Sustainable thinking and acting are essential to preserve our planet and improve both the basis of life and the quality of living for millions. Covestro aligns economic growth with sustainability – creating profitable products and technologies that benefit society, with a reduced impact on nature.

“One might think that a raw material producer would not be focusing on trends and consumer insights. But at Covestro, human values such as ethical consumption, education, equality, health and life itself are at the heart of our strategy,” says Villy Nikolaidou, Global Head of Marketing Communications for PUR. “We are constantly looking for ways to understand the fluidity of human behaviour either through primary consumer research, trends analysis or joint insight projects with our customers.

“Ultimately, our materials go into products that touch the daily lives of consumers around the world. Knowing how we can add value long term is not only extremely worthwhile but adds meaning to everything we do.”

Covestro works closely with various stakeholder groups and acts according to the strict guidelines and principles embedded in its corporate policy, driven by the ambitious goals the company wants to reach by 2025. These goals deliver hard figures that make the company’s progress transparent and measurable, but also demand the same level of commitment from its suppliers. Covestro is part of various global cooperative initiatives to drive sustainability, and the company regularly receives awards from external institutions.

Sustainability is a core element of the company’s mission, and an integral part of its strategy. “We live and breathe innovation and want to grow with products and technologies that benefit society and reduce the impact on our ecological systems,” says Stephan.

Find out more about Covestro’s sustainability strategy

Sources: Trendwatching, Zukunftsinstitut, Z_Punkt, Frost & Sullivan, and TrendOne

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