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The proven limits of individual efforts and the difficulty of managing collective dynamics make energy transition an extremely challenging task when approached through consumption. Fortunately, technologies can change the game: smart consumption is on the rise. But whose smartness is it: machines', electricity suppliers', or ours?

As noted in a previous article, the very notion of a responsible consumer faces certain limits. The truth is, significant changes in the energy mix cannot be achieved through the goodwill (or conversely, the guilty conscience) of individuals. Does that leave us with no other choice than following decisions from above or waiting for technological solutions from daring entrepreneurs like Elon Musk? If we wish a new, more sober way of life to emerge, we should also trust social imagination, based on the dynamics of sharing and pooling.

Connected goods will lead to 5 transformations in retail: digital shopping in brick-and-mortar stores, perfect trade promotions, optimal consumer engagement, drastic reductions in counterfeiting and food waste. All this by 2025? The biggest obstacle is the cost of change: technology is already mostly out there.

Who exactly will be the actors of a coming energy transition? Industry and the major power operators will naturally, of course, be prime contributors but the end-consumers themselves will also have a role to play. The question is: can the latter really tip the balance?

Six digital marketing traps that CMOs should avoid

Business June 18th, 2015, Gopi Kallayil & Suzie Reider / Chief Evangelist for Brand Marketing & Managing Director of Brand Solutions, Google

Digital media is evolving rapidly and requires more than traditional marketing. Suzie Reider, Google's managing director for brand solutions, and Gopi Kallayil, Google's chief evangelist for brand solutions, highlight six common traps that new-age marketers must avoid.

Sharing economy: how the wind of trust has changed direction

Society May 28th, 2015, Monique Dagnaud / Research Director, French National Center for Scientific Research

The sharing economy has wind in its sails. Its proponents are growing in numbers and the utopian narrative disseminated by its promoters is currently in vogue. But there is another side to the coin.

A modern myth debunked: no, consumers are not in control

Business May 7th, 2015, Howard Gross / Founder and Principal, HG Communications, LLC; former Senior Director of Global Communications, The Nielsen Company

Granted marketers no longer exercise the leverage they once did, it is a delusion to assume it has been transferred to consumers; especially in an increasingly complex world where the very notion of control is, itself, becoming a myth.

In the past, Hilton Worldwide, which has 4,200 hotels in 90 countries, used to look at individual consumers and decide who was a Hilton customer. It used that determination in its marketing: Hampton Inn people were targeted one way, while those who fit the profile of the Waldorf Astoria were approached in another. Then the company had an a-ha moment.

Faced with consumers who can search for information, form groups and publicly express their opinion through electronic media and social networking, goods producers and services providers will inevitably have to step down from their comfortable heights and start thinking in terms of coproduction with a customer who will become a prosumer.

Come year 2030, what will business enterprises look like? Almost every qualified answer points in the same direction, or at least provides a foreseeable trend: if as predicted instability becomes the rule and not the exception, and in a context of an entirely new ecosystem stemming from pervasive digital technologies, business enterprises will have to evolve quite considerably if they wish to remain efficient, sustainable and resilient. What factors come to bear here?

A short distribution channel is defined either by direct sale from producer to consumer or by the indirect sale, provided that there is only one intermediary. Long confined to activist circles, this alternative model is now moving out of the margins. What are its prospects? Can it prove a game changer?

Goodbye services, goodbye goods: welcome to the solutions economy

Business April 24th, 2014, Michèle Debonneuil / Senior Economist, Caisse des dépôts et consignations

Enterprises are now able to collect all kind of real-time information about the needs of each consumer. They can provide innovative products that are neither goods nor services but something else, in between, that could be called solutions. Around these solutions we are witnessing the emergence of original business models, and more generally, of a new economy.

Which innovation strategy for consumer goods?

Business February 27th, 2014, Matthieu Perrier / Innovation Manager, ITW

Shrouded in the secrecy of marketing services, at the heart of the manufacturing industry, innovation has today established itself as the ultimate solution, illustrated by insolent successes despite a challenging environment. Sometimes defined as the encounter between an invention and a market segment, innovation seems to generate alternatives, growth drivers, and even crisis products that allow companies to bounce or to renew themselves. So how are the necessary opportunities to be found? Is there a recipe for large FMCG companies? A recipe? Certainly not. But some methods, yes. And also plenty of flawed strategies.

Planned obsolescence has an infamous reputation: some denounce a crime against the environment, others, a swindle. A careful examination, however, shows that this business model is not all bad - and it even came to perform, during the Great Depression, as a miracle cure against the crisis!

Social relations, buzz, leadership, popularity, reputation... at first sight, marketing and social media seem to speak the same language. But the actual value of marketing 2.0 is difficult to assess. Can social marketing become a real growth driver?

Intention economy: from the fringes to mainstream?

Business May 22nd, 2013, Doc Searls / Alumnus fellow with the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University

Vendor relationship management is on the rise. Though for the last ten years a powerful trend has driven marketers to trap consumers and collect their personal data in order to anticipate their wishes to the point the very idea of choice was questioned, disruptive ways of managing this relationship are emerging. Will consumers recover their freedom?

China's leaders called in November for average personal incomes in the nation to double by 2020, giving domestic consumption a stronger role the normally export-reliant economy and challenging often-avoided local brands to catch up with foreign rivals.

The breaking news on Lance Armstrong's decision to give up his fight against accusations of performance enhancing drug use is just the latest example of the countless popular figures, companies and brands that have found themselves at the heart of a public scandal. However, some of these entities not only survive a crisis, but thrive beyond it. In a recent research paper, Wharton marketing professor Americus Reed and two Wharton doctoral students explore the role of moral decoupling (when consumers separate out morality from other considerations) in how those companies, brands and public figures are judged in the court of public opinion.

Smartphone credit cards and card readers, prepaid debit cards and other burgeoning electronic payment systems are making it easier than ever to move through the world without carrying cash. While going cashless offers some convenience to consumers, it also comes with potential fees and penalties from banks, credit card companies and others. As observers from Wharton and elsewhere note, cash is the more expensive proposition for those who handle financial transactions. But it will be tough for firms to convince consumers that dollars and cents have become a mere curio of the past.

With its brand new millionaires and a booming middle class, China is a dream come true for major luxury brands. But it is fraught with pitfalls – and, from design to marketing, these command a revamping of many practices. In the line of fire comes a fundamental question: is the Chinese market going to overhaul our Western conception of luxury?

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