Ryan Mathews

Futurist Ryan Mathews of FirstMatter, a consulting firm based in Westport, Connecticut, discussed "Consumerism in the Twenty-First Century" on the first evening of the Gockel International Symposium, April 18, in Taylor Auditorium at Missouri Southern State College.

Mathews has nearly 20 years of experience anticipating the trends that shape corporate America. Having advised numerous organizations, including Proctor & Gamble, Frito Lay, and Coca-Cola, he is an acknowledged expert in all aspects of supply chain management. Over the years, he has carved out a reputation as an authority on emerging retail markets and the future of doing business in the Information Age.

Utilizing this expertise, he discussed the steps the business world must take to understand the future of sales. Mathews provides corporations with a guide to the constantly changing relationship between industry and consumers. He looks at how the standards of distribution, customer loyalty, and brand identity will be irrevocably changed in the coming years and details the upcoming revolution in consumerism brought on by technology.

"The future is a convergence of forces and discontinuities – or wild cards – that drive change," Mathews said in the December 1999 issue of American Demographics. "No one was smart enough or creative enough to predict that in the 1960s, when we were preaching ‘free love’ in Golden Gate Park, that only 30 years later we would have the ‘new celibacy.’ That’s the result of a wild card."

Also a leading authority in electronic commerce, Mathews examines the way the Internet has become the method more and more people are using to purchase goods and services. He tracks the move from the one-stop shopping of the supermarket to the one-click shopping of the home computer and offers strategies for success in the retail market, which is evolving from a public business to a more intimate private exchange.

Mathews joined FirstMatter as a futurist after an 18-year career as a retail trade journalist and retail consultant. He has pioneered the use of scenario planning in the retail industry and has done work in the areas of private space retailing, ethnic marketing, retail legislation, and non-linear virtual supply chain modeling. His views on retailing and electronic commerce have been frequently quoted in a variety of publications ranging from Wired to The New York Times.

Mathews received his B.A. from Hope College in Inner Asian history and philosophy. He did his graduate work at the University of Detroit where he studied phenomenological ontology.