SHIFT SPRING 2021 – In times of transformation

The two-day SHIFT Conference brought decision-makers and opinion-shapers together to exchange ideas on the topic of transformation––an issue for global companies and influential individuals alike.

Although SHIFT Spring 2021 was forced to be a virtual event, the content of this year’s spring conference was as real and tangible as the premiere that had preceded it in September 2020. Once again, the topic was change, transformation, even disruption, in all its many manifestations. As host Simone Hartmann from hartmann consultants pointed out, “The topic is a critical one for every brand, large or small.”


An initial overview of the changes that lie ahead in the post-Covid era was provided by Ulrich Köhler, CEO of trend consultancy Trendbüro. In Köhler’s view, consumers’ desires are based on “security as the key criterion.” While he identifies health as the paramount value for Germany, he notes that “honesty and authenticity” are gaining in significance. And to tackle consumers’ distrust of major brands, he advises, “Do something different!”

This introduction was followed by a debate entitled “Will Personalities Rule Brands and Commerce?” presented by Marc Schumacher, with Mrs Bella (influencer & creator) and Josip Radovic (creative director, journalist & author), as illustrators of a further transformation––namely that the pace of change is set not only by companies large and small, but also by influential individuals like themselves. As Schumacher summed up, “You are a kind of media center, power sellers, a vertical Procter & Gamble!“ The first day concluded with a talk by Nadine Wolanke (Head of Sales Retail & Consumer Goods Salesforce) in which she explored the consumer mindset further and outlined the complex associative challenges that resulted from it.

The second day’s program turned the spotlight on two global companies currently undergoing enormous upheavals. First, Christoph Heyn (Vice President Digital Product Management IKEA) explained how the Swedish furnishing giant plans to manage the shift to a circular economy and other far-reaching changes by 2030 without compromising its brand characteristics. The afternoon concluded with a rollercoaster story of how Philip Morris reinvented itself, relinquishing its focus on cigarettes and its ultimate product––the iconic global brand of Marlboro––in the process. Thorsten Scheib (CEO Philip Morris Germany) affirmed: “Transformation releases incredible energy within a company.“

These two “giants” were interspersed with stories from less well-known, but no less interesting names. “Next Level Retail Innovations” delivered entrepreneurial insights recounted by three remarkable personalities. Henner Mamane (Studio of Wonders) described the success of his Berlin assembly of fantasy worlds as an all-new type of shopping experience; Martin Bressem (_blaenk) presented “commercial real estate as three-dimensional advertising space,” while Dhi Matiole Nunes (The Latest) outlined his platform for innovative products.

The varied and wide-ranging program was rounded off by Lars Feldscher (CEO Astound Commerce) and Stephan Balzer (Founder Red Onion & Boma). Feldscher took the audience through the “New Playbook of E-Commerce” and highlighted video shopping as a future trend for Germany to watch and embrace. Balzer identified failures at management level and the need for executives to catch up; by going “back to school,” he affirms, they will understand and deal with present and future developments more effectively and maximize vital competitive edge.