How do we measure value?

Womit erreicht man eben jene attraktiven Avantgarde-Zielgruppen am Markt, die eigentlich schon alles haben, und sich von konventionellen Kommunikationsmaßnahmen abwenden?

Malin, you switched from fashion business to bread business – quite an unusual story.

Malin: (laughs) Yes, I studied business, marketing and network strategies and I worked as Head of Sales in the fashion business. But what always interested me most is the quality of products and the power authentic stories, so basically I could have worked in every branch. When it comes to food, bread is the most natural thing to work with. It’s where it all starts. Bread is 6000 years old and full of stories that connect all of us. Bread is borderless, genderless.

Sounds as if you were looking for some kind of new values…

Malin: This is definitely one side of it. But I also simply noticed that the product was lacking. Back in 2007, when I was living in Berlin, in the “bread country” Germany, I could not find any high quality product. People thought that bread should not cost more than two Euros, which is crazy if you value high quality ingredients and fair business. So I started baking my own bread. The first year I was just giving it away because it would have been far too expensive to sell it. I had no expectations of getting anything back. But by doing this I started a thinking process. People began to understand the huge difference between producing bread with commercial yeast and traditionally with sour-dough.

Do you see yourself as a kind of ambassador for rethinking how we are consuming?

Malin: I didn’t set out to be a missionary of the quality of bread, I was just noticing this huge lack of awareness about the value of quality. Not just in Berlin or Germany, but globally. By that time I was travelling about 170 days of the year. So I was standing up for something important. And if you do this in a nice way with a nice packaging, people are starting to learn and change their minds. If they don’t, your mission wasn’t necessary.

Do you think this new approach to quality and value is a broader trend?

Malin: I think that the group of people who are not only interested in money is growing more and more – and that it is important to reach them. Having values on top of monetary values is crucial for companies as well, something to build a portfolio around. It’s very simple: There are values that money can’t buy: stories, inspiration. By putting my bread on the bread exchange market and playing “first come, first served”, I sometimes get things I definitely don’t need but I always know someone in my network who does. This is how stories begin: People tell you about what they are offering and you talk about what people value in bread. You always end up in interesting conversations about what keeps someone going and inspires him or her.

What kind of people are particularly drawn to this kind of inspiration?

 Malin: It’s a huge variety of people. Of course there is the “revolutionary” part who is interested in stepping away from using money. But mainly it’s people that are simply looking for a good product just like I did, people who like to share and discuss. To me this is super interesting because I’m always exploring new things. A dream scenario for a company, right? 

Absolutely. Many companies are looking for innovation but are unable to step out of their common habits.

 Malin: Yes, and this is why companies ask me to teach their innovation teams how to find inspiration in everyday life. I’m working together with corporate teams and discuss how they can get out in the field and reach the people that cannot be reached with commercials and product placements. The people that I trade with are innovators, extremely interesting and extremely hard to reach. People who care for quality. This is where you start!

Talking about innovation: Do you think this is a way to explore future?

 Malin: It is a way that indicates where we can go in the future if we reach the right people, if we dare to listen to critics and to acknowledge honest opinions. It’s also about finding alternatives to our current society, to the way we are living today.

Do you see “Bread Exchange” as a manifestation of the shareconomy idea?

Malin: There are many “shareconomy” companies that don’t really build upon sharing values. My project is more about giving without the expectation of getting something back. If you’re honestly giving, with good intentions, you will get something back. That’s how we work happily, I believe. This has been my biggest lesson, it is something that I didn’t know before from my business life. I have done hundreds of thousands of bread trades and there were only two or three persons that did not put effort into the trade. We have to ask ourselves: How do we measure value? If something is shared with honesty, with the will to inspire and to share something good, this is valuable. It’s incredible how many people do understand this.

What comes next? Any new projects in the pipeline?

Malin: There are a lot of directions where this can go. Bread was a good and easy beginning, because it is something we all understand and highly appreciate: a global, borderless, classless product. But this is just the perfect example of how it can work. It can be done with anything. It started with bread but now it’s not about bread anymore.

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Florian Kondert

Der Kommunikationswirtschafter und Wissensmanager leitet die Digitale Welt und Informationsarchitektur des Zukunftsinstituts. Sein Arbeitsfeld: die Wechselwirkung zwischen Mensch und Technologie.