The foresight function of the future: Leveraging storytelling in foresight

Presentation highlight: In the build-up to our MRMW 2024 series we are releasing a selection of our highest rated presentations. Sandeep Das’ keynote at MRMW APAC 2023 on “The foresight function of the future: Leveraging storytelling in foresight” was the top rated presentation of the day.

The foresight function of the future: Leveraging storytelling in foresight

A comprehensive look at the 5 big trends impacting APAC going forward in the next 3-5 years,

  • Channel: New age channels, how traditional channels will get disrupted along with elements of personalization
  • Consumer: Health and Wellness: This is about new age wellness is being defined – not just restricted to physical and mental health but much more than that.
  • Experiences: Happy Moments in a high-pressure world: Chasing experiences, immersive entertainment along with the Metaverse
  • Sustainability: How consumers are slowly looking at sustainability but not at scale
  • New business models: Will speak about scaling of social commerce and the opportunity of voice led social media, streaming and commerce


And how I have used elements of storytelling from my own book (e.g., nested anecdotes, popular culture elements, etc) to drive foresight stickiness

Sandeep Das, Global Foresight Lead, Emerging Markets, Mars

You can find all Qual360 conference recordings for free in our video section!

Video transcript below (This is an AI generated summary. There may be inaccuracies.)

In the opening keynote at MRMW APAC 2023, Sandeep Das discussed the relevance of foresight in business strategies, particularly in emerging markets. He touched on his experience leading the foresight function for Mars Wrigley and emphasized the importance of long-term planning. In his talk Sandeep covers future trends and opportunities in emerging markets and how to leverage storytelling principles to enhance the effectiveness of foresight and long-term strategy.

  • 00:00:00 In this section Sandeep Das discusses the concept of foresight and its relevance to business strategies, particularly in the context of emerging markets. He shares his experience leading the foresight function for Mars Wrigley and touches on the importance of long-term planning. Das then introduces his session by sharing two main topics he plans to cover: discussing the future trends and opportunities in emerging markets, and leveraging storytelling principles to enhance effectiveness in foresight and long-term strategy. The first topic includes five major change drivers and themes expected to play out in the next five years. These include accessible convenience, consumer behavior, trust, the environment, and commerce and infrastructure. He briefly discusses the pace of digitalization and e-commerce growth in various markets and considers the opportunities and nuances in each area. Additionally, in the latter part of his session, Das plans to delve into storytelling principles to enhance the effectiveness of foresight and long-term strategy, thus emphasizing the importance of effective communication in strategic planning and adaptation to changing market conditions
  • 00:05:00 In this section Sandeep  discusses the future of Health and Wellness, which goes beyond physical and mental health. He introduces eight dimensions of Wellness and focuses on three of them: spiritual, occupational, and financial. Spiritual Wellness, as indicated by the rise of Buddhist apps and religious chants, is becoming increasingly popular, especially among younger generations. Occupational Wellness, with the shift towards non-traditional careers and the pursuit of social currency, is essential for overall Wellness. Lastly, Financial Wellness, while still important as grandmothers used to say, has become more complex for the next generation who are aware but heavily misinformed. Marketers should consider addressing all eight dimensions of Health and Wellness to effectively engage consumers
  • 00:10:00 In this section he discusses the declining trust in institutions and the rise of influencers in marketing, specifically in the context of social commerce. Trust in corporations, governments, and the media has been decreasing over the past decade, leading to an increase in the popularity of influencers and micro-influencers. This is evident in markets like China, where influencers and live streaming have become a significant opportunity for businesses. However, mega influencers with large followings have started operating like celebrities and have faced backlash for authenticity issues, leading to a shift towards micro and nano influencers. Additionally, brands are exploring virtual influencers due to the lack of control over human influencers. The upcoming social commerce movement is expected to be driven by nano-influencers, micro-influencers, and virtual influencers. Trust remains an important factor, but it’s evolving with the changing landscape of influencer marketing and social commerce
  • 00:15:00 In this section Sandeep Das discusses the evolving trend of unique experiences in retail and technology. He begins by sharing an example of a restaurant in Dubai that has modeled its entire seven-course menu based on the popular Netflix series “Squid Games.” Consumers’ desire for unique experiences has led retailers to adopt technological advances such as contactless payments and unmanned stores, as shown by the Octobox store in Singapore. The second trend is the Metaverse, where consumers can engage in retail venues as avatars. The third theme is responsibility for consequences, showcasing how consumers are becoming increasingly conscious about the environment and ethical labor practices. Although the speaker conducted an anonymous poll online, finding that most people chose the less sustainable, cheaper option, there’s a growing movement toward conscious consumption and cell-based seafood, veganism, and eco-friendly packaging. The Eco market is poised for exponential growth, and retailers are embracing social commerce, trust through virtual influencer ecosystems, and a focus on happy moments and unique experiences
  • 00:20:00 Das discusses the challenges of convincing business leaders to plan for the long-term, citing the difficulty of predicting where they will be in the next few years. He emphasizes the importance of storytelling in foresight and shares some effective methods from his own experience, namely the use of popular references, such as Batman, and the power of anecdotes. He also advises reducing content on slides to maintain audience attention. When asked about the role of corporations in looking ahead, Das emphasizes the need for a mindset shift, encouraging leaders to begin experiments and planning now for future scenarios
  • 00:25:00 In this section Sandeep Das discusses the importance of choosing the right leaders to influence in the field of foresight, highlighting those with enterprise roles whose focus is on longer-term horizons. He acknowledges that shifting their mindset is not easy but emphasizes the significance of persistence. A question regarding wellness and its maturity in Southeast Asia is addressed, with the region being on par or slightly ahead in most dimensions, except for environmental wellness. Das also engages in a discussion about a potential future of distrust in humans and machine-run societies, expressing skepticism towards the latter scenario but acknowledging its low probability. The challenge of dealing with the gap between people’s intentions and actions is also acknowledged, offering an example of consumer behavior involving the choice between environmentally friendly and cheaper options
  • 00:30:00 In closing, Sandeep Das discusses his approach to consumer research and testing new concepts. Instead of relying solely on numbers and data, they speak to experts to understand human behavior. After identifying potential trends, they conduct pilots to test their applicability in real-life situations. This method allows them to account for the discrepancy between what people say and what they do. Despite the excellent questions from the audience, Sandeep wraps up the session

If you would like to hear more about the latest trends and innovations driving the industry forward. Check out the upcoming MRMW APAC and North America editions. All quoted speakers will present live at the MRMW APAC edition on April 17&18 in Singapore.


Avatar photo

Jens Cornelissen

Jens Cornelissen has been writing for over two decades – initially for general newspapers in his home country Germany. After receiving an MA degree in Communications, he joined a new media start-up in Amsterdam as consultant on new media technologies and country editor for two daily newsletters. In his current day job, Jens runs the global conference division for Merlien’s dedicated marketing research events. Jens is a trained journalist with a BA in Journalism from Westminster University in London and has authored several media industry reports and articles on mobile and media technology.

View all posts by Jens Cornelissen →

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *