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If we have learned anything in the last year, it is that the only certain thing is uncertainty. Businesses have felt this too, with lockdowns, virus variants and financial instability sending consumer confidence plummeting. This is in line with trends that were already at play as a series of scandals, ethical missteps and moral failures in public organisations drove home the undeniable message that businesses and institutions cannot be trusted.

For this reason, building trust should be one of the central priorities for all companies in today’s world. Especially post-pandemic, much of this trust needs to be built through consistency. For all the pivoting we have done during COVID, there is much to be said for the value of consistency in the face of uncertainty.

We have all grown used to the trends and influencers of social media, but developments of the last year are seeing the platforms we have come to know enter a new stage. The ‘creator economy’ involves the proliferating number of independent individuals who are making an earning by using social media to share their skills, knowledge and abilities. Leaving behind the influencers and polished posts of yesterday, the creator economy is ushering in a new era of marketing, influence and branding online – businesses best pay attention!

Downturns and hard times are often perceived as a curse in business. When lockdowns hit, sales dry up and market share dwindles, leaders often long for the former glory days of growth and prosperity. However, in the same way that nature has seasons, industries have cycles that serve an important purpose. The key to surviving, thriving and achieving enduring relevance in the long-term is to work with rather than war against seasons and cycles – especially the adverse ones.

In the digital age, the adage stands: if you are not paying for the product, you are the product. In an era where business marketing, sales and influence are increasingly personalised and driven by insights into consumers, there is no product of more value than your personal data. The quantified self movement and the general focus on health, fitness and beauty in recent years has brought about a proliferation of apps and devices focussed on improving these areas of our lives. However, more and more it is seeming as if our smartphones and wearable devices know us better than we know ourselves.

There are only a handful of companies that have stood the test of time, and Danish toymaker Lego stands out among them. Voted the most popular toy of all time,[1] Lego has endured through an array of changes, remaining an unwavering and dependable company through all of the social and economic changes of the last 70 years. It brilliantly exemplifies the ability to move with the times without compromising core values, and businesses would do well to learn from the company’s history and habits.

Here are 5 essential lessons we can learn from Lego:

When seeking to understanding their customers over the years, brands and organizations have had little option but to rely on blunt instruments and generalized patterns. The valuable work of marketers, analysts and strategists centred on segmenting society into broad groups based on gender, ethnicity or geographic location. These groupings would then inform how products and messaging could be tailored for relevance. In the modern age of data analytics, however, it is not only possible to understand and target an audience of one but it is increasingly becoming the expectation.

From online shopping to online dating, the digital age has introduced people to a range of options that previous generations could only have dreamed of. For every option that is swiped left or scrolled past, there is an array of others waiting that may or may not be better suited to our personal preferences.

Last year threw a spanner in the works of human movement. While we were on an unwavering trajectory towards an urbanised and globalised world, widespread lockdowns sent us back to the confines of our homes, into the borders of our own countries and towards suburbs beyond the cities. With a new balance of working from home and at the office, and real estate booming beyond the major cities, we are seeing a version of our future emerging faster and more differently than we ever could have predicted. The notion of city living is expanding in its definition as are the innovations that are accompanying it.  

COVID has drastically changed the way we shop. Online shopping, direct to consumer business models, curb-side pick up and e-commerce have all skyrocketed in popularity during the pandemic, leaving many businesses scrambling to catch up. With COVID having accelerated the transformation of consumer behaviour, businesses and brands need to move their position in line with the times.

Here are four ways to reposition your business or brand:

More than any other time of history, we have trust issues. As our era has seen so many of the institutions that once stood as societal backbones crumble beneath scandals, lies and alternative facts, the value of trustworthiness has skyrocketed in its scarcity.

Whether in our personal relationships or our interactions with big brands and institutions, trust is the foundation of loyalty, engagement and affinity. This foundation has taken a pounding in recent years – especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The next decade will undoubtedly be dominated by the large-scale trends we have long anticipated. Driverless cars, passenger drones and the rise of the robots all represent developments that are impossible to miss and will be defining for our era. However, while it’s easy to be dazzled by large-scale trends, it is equally undeniable that some of the most exciting breakthroughs that will shape the coming decade will occur at a much, much smaller scale… in fact, they will be microscopic.