By Sarah Whitty

In a previous post, we learned about three types of companies or brands, each of which has its own struggles and strategies to work through.

1. Companies that identify as Paranoid: Zara creates 11,000 dresses each year because they are doing everything they possibly can to keep everybody happy, a strategy which is now leading to excessive waste.

2. Companies that identify as Troubled: Domino’s pizza admitted they were troubled so they strategically re-invested and benefited from great results.

3. Companies that identify as Doing Well: Companies that ‘think’ they are doing well are more protective, repetitive, and complacent. (And look how that turned out for Toys R Us!)

This three-pronged framework is a helpful way for companies to better understand how their brands fit into the marketplace, to build a strategy to avoid becoming complacent, and to create more efficient and successful plans for the future. For all of these types of companies, the future, whatever it may be, is being driven forward by two major societal forces.

1. Demographics and the Redefinition of Roles: Canadians are becoming more diverse in language and ethnicity. Our population is aging leading to an older workforce. Cultural stereotypes related to gender and power are being crushed. These changes in demographics and social norms are happening rapidly and brands need to adapt to them at the same pace – or faster.

2. The Digital Explosion: Along with the rest of the world, Canadians are witnessing the start of the 4th industrial revolution, the exponential age, wherein the number of things, from phones and fridges to floors and fruit, connected to the internet will simply explode. By 2025, we will experience full digital explosion.

These two societal trends directly impact the everyday lives of people changing their attitudes, behaviours, and expectations towards brands and companies. In particular, six of these consumer trends include:

1. Entertainment Re-imagined: The way we get our ‘entertainment buzz’ is quickly evolving. Where primetime TV used to be the entertainment of choice, people are now taking advantage of unlimited options to stream live or pre-recorded movies, music, shows, sports, news and other options from their televisions, phones, tablets, and smartwatches. This evolution has also impacted our choices in the food and beverages we consume, the sports we play, and how we spend time with our friends and family.

2. More Connected, Less Connection: Although we are technologically more connected than ever, many people are feeling increasingly less socially connected. People are getting together less often. AI is taking over physical relationships. The Loneliness Epidemic is becoming a concern. The wide reaching benefits of technology have begun to replace the functions that once could only be accomplished through human interaction, and now our basic need for human connection is suffering.

3. Customer Experience Re-Invented: Consumers know how technology works. They know that companies track their customer experiences to understand where they are, what they want and when they want it. In turn, they expect this information to be used wisely, quickly, ethically, and accurately. Of course, in return, retail brands must now work much harder to meet the increasingly higher standards of customized retail experience that consumers demand.

4. Trust & Transparency: Does anyone know what the truth is anymore? Technology has evolved to a point where sounds, images, and videos can be faked. It’s sometimes impossible to figure out what is real. Does anyone feel comfortable sharing their opinions publicly anymore? No matter how careful and sensitive we are, our words on social media are quickly held against us. Everything is potentially offensive to somebody. This impediment to truth and openness has led people to question everything. It’s hard to trust the media, and it’s getting harder to trust brands even when their mission focuses on bettering the world.

5. Health & Longevity: Automation and artificial intelligence are physically impacting our lives. With improved abilities to test, diagnose, and treat ailments, we are on the brink of a new age of medicine that will have us living far longer than imagined. The impact this will have on our lifestyles is enormous. We will witness a new life stage for ‘old old’ people, and we will need to learn to take care of our bodies, minds, and pocketbooks for much longer than ever before.

6. State of the World: Our world continues to evolve in expected and unexpected directions. Global warming is causing cities and countries to rethink their long-term social and community strategies. Polarization of opinions on the economy and politics, paired with random Black Swan events like terrorism, natural disasters, and pandemics has created unpredictable environments for businesses to grow in. The world is a scary place.

Which brings us to ‘now what?’ These key trends affect people, consumers, and companies in very different ways. Each stakeholder has unique needs and desires that can only be met in very different ways.

By conducting a Disruption Audit based on this trends framework, you can better assess the future landscape of the world and create an agreed upon aligned view of the future for your industry, your category, and, in turn, your company. With this aligned view of the future, not only will you be better equipped to future proof your brands from potential disruption, you will also highlight the opportunities for disruption themselves. Be the disruptor, not the disrupted!

If you’re keen to lead your industry through strategic innovations, our experienced facilitators would love to help you conduct a disruption audit and get on the track to success. Please get in touch with us!