SERIOUS CONCEPTING


Serious concepting
Book cover

At International Lifestyle Studies (Fontys University of Applied Sciences, the Netherlands), concepting is one of the main subjects students are educated in. To operationalise concepting for this program, a Dutch textbook was written:

Serious Concepting, value through values, Jakob Sutmuller/Rudy van Belkom, 2014.  

This platform is the follow-up of the book, exposed in English to reach out to a broader audience.

The discipline of Serious Concepting is based on five principles determined by the program of ILS, developed by lecturers and researchers working for ILS.

In fact they represent the important distinguishing ambitions ILS has in creating future proof, customer specific concepts that improve quality of life.

The Serious Concepting principles are:

Trends, Innovation, Cross-sectorality, Lifestyle and Quality of Life.

TRENDS


Trends
Trendresearch

Serious Concepting starts out with a fundamental understanding of trends that shape and transform society.

Micro trends are new groups of products and services that appear on the market and are visible to us. While figuring out why these kinds of products and services are interesting to consumers, underlying needs could be identified and translated into macro trends.

Macro trends are the vision of a trend researcher on a consumer level and reflect the changing needs and values. Those needs and values influence how we live and what we want. A trend researcher focuses on the development over time or the shift in meaning in response to a changing society.

Mega trends are the larger overarching developments that have great impact on various aspects of our society (consumers, companies, organisations and governments). This level is complex and penetrates society slowly through different layers, in different ways, in different sectors and in different countries.

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INNOVATION


Innovation
Innovation with impact

In terms of innovation Serious Concepting focuses on innovation with an above average impact on society.

Serious Concepting doesn’t aim at incremental innovation that focusses merely on small product adjustments, but rather on disruptive and groundbreaking innovation.

These two types of innovation have a more conceptual approach, because they depart from changing needs and values in society.

Disruptive innovations like the taxi service Uber find their origin in the changing needs and expectations of consumers towards mobility, and is fueled by low entry technological standards.

It's the ultimate ambition of Serious Concepting to innovate on the groundbreaking level like the modular mobile phone of Phonebloks (now project ARA by Google). This innovation adressed the growing threat of E-waste and also challenges the technological boundaries of the smartphone industry. 

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LIFESTYLE


Lifestyle
BSR model (smartagent)

Rather than focusing on traditional target groups characterised by socio-economic features alone, Serious Concepting also looks into the value sets of target groups.

Values build up to a certain lifestyle of individuals or mentality, which is opposed to actual demand, a much more solid approach to improving the quality of life of targetgroups.

A lot of research has been done on the mentality of groups, subsequently translated to a big variety of models. Within Serious Concepting this variety is used to identify the right departure in targeting a group of consumers.

One of the models that is used to understand the basics of mentality segmentation is the BSR model of Smartagent. Society is organised by looking at two contrasts that characterize people: ego-group and introvert-extravert.

Groups and subgroups can then be identified and researched when looking into a specific opportunity for innovation. The value set of a group helps to clearly define their pains and gains, which is crucial in formulating an opportunity. 

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CROSS-SECTORAL INNOVATION


Cross sectorality
Cross sectoral innovation

Another important aspect of Serious Concepting is the cross-sectoral approach.

This implies that inspiration for innovation is found by looking into what is going on within different sectors and industries.

It also enables the development of concepts that can be applied in different industries.  

Serious Concepting distinguishes six sectors in which from a consumer perspective, value is created that in a profound way determines our quality of life:

Appearance (our identity), Health (our healthyness), Food (what we can eat), Human Movement (our possibilities to move), Leisure (what we can do in our spare time) and Living (the way how and where we can live). 

By being aware of the significant drivers of change in these sectors, ideas for innovation can spread among them. 

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QUALITY OF LIFE


Quality of Life
Value framework (E. den Ouden)

An ultimate focus of Serious Concepting is developing concepts that contribute to a better quality of life.

Quality of life is a rather abstract phenomenon and can therefore be interpreted in numerous ways. 

To make quality of life workable in practise, Serious Concepting uses several approaches, from the individual level up to society level.

On the individual level, quality of life can improve by investing in five different but coherent areas: physical, social, emotional, and material wellbeing, and also by development and activity (Felce and Perry). Concepts will have to adress these areas.

On the society level concepts are validated by their contribution to social innovation. Therefore a framework is used which was developed by Elke den Oude, known as the Value Framework. 

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