room44 innovates

“FFS Tristan, how can that work? If I make 1% changes every day I’ll have a different business in three months.”

Trump – Brexit – Covid-19 – War in Ukraine…

It’s trite to suggest that these mega-events are on the same scale as decisions you and I make in our everyday lives. What they have in common, though, is the fact that they were readable. Yes, there was a degree of uncertainty before they actually happened and the timing was a bit vague, but the likelihood of these things happening became slowly more certain.

The lie of £350 million a week going to the NHS and 100,000 troops standing on a border probably signalled the thing happening even if you didn’t want it to.

I don’t know of anyone who had a contingency plan in place for any of them.

One or two companies had a scenario map, but not a plan.

So, with the benefit of hindsight, what happens next?

The signals of change are visible for those who choose to look. room44 looks all the time and what we do is connect less obvious trends that are signalled ahead of time.

Let’s have a look at a few UK-specific signals:

  • Some EU countries are dependent on Russia for their supply of gas. Russia is at war: it will take a long time to recover and while it does it will increase its export prices for energy supply.
  • The economic sanctions against Russia will have wider ramifications that to prevent Russians from buying western goods.
  • Ukraine’s output of wheat is devastated for 2022 and for an indeterminate period into the future.
  • The cost of diesel fuel in the UK has jumped from something close to £1.20 a litre to £1.90 over the last few months and fuel prices are on the rise anyway. £3/litre won’t be a surprise.
  • All UK local authorities have targets to hit that will see an improvement in air quality.
  • Charging per mile is on the legislative agenda for motor vehicle journeys.
  • UK new building planning permissions now come with environmental improvement requirements. For commercial properties, it is often necessary for occupiers to commit to an ongoing programme of carbon reductions.
  • Urban domestic planning permissions do not automatically stipulate residences need car parking spaces as part of the deal.
  • Food prices have risen since COVID. Some foods aren’t always available. 15% thgis year is forecasted.
  • Bank interest rates are rising.

I could go on.

Everyone reading this can probably see ways in which these factors will affect the cost base in their business and the options to mitigate the effect aren’t so many now. It’s going to be very difficult to hold your overheads steady through cost management, which gives you two choices: sell more or sell for more.

The benefits of incremental marginal gains

One of the roles I play when working with clients is to bring insight to the conversation on a regular basis. The benefit from seeing trends laid bare is to see them in the context of your business.

Viewing shifts regularly gives you the opportunity to aggregate the information and to adjust your working assumptions in small ways, rather than waiting for the big market change to hit and force you to react.

We apply the benefit of marginal incremental change. The idea that you can step forward by making little adjustments to the way you do business is proven to work time after time.

It’s an odd conflict of opinion that we’ll buy into Toyota Business System, Eric Ries or ‘Lean’ principles but the idea of making 1% improvements we can see for ourselves doesn’t get the same traction.

Hence the client who said, “FFS Tristan, how can that work? If I make 1% changes every day I’ll have a different business in three months.”

Future thinking. Future proofing. It’s what we do.

If you want to talk about this, here’s my diary. Pick a time that suits you.

Right through COVID-19 lockdowns, established, proactive business has been morphing into new versions of itself. At the same time, start-ups have been making huge noise. Individuals and groups of entrepreneurs are re-starting, re-surging, re-energising and finding new ways to grab attention and grab business.

And now we have the holidays when everything stops again.

Companies who have struggled to trade, or haven’t found a new way to trade, will have to come out of their imposed exiles with the same job to do again – to restart, re-surge and re-energise.

Culture needs a strategy to feed on

The stop/start nature of many market sectors over the last couple of years has taken a toll. Clearly the logical response is to pick up where we left off as soon as possible.

Maybe, however, there’s another option.

The oft-quoted Peter Drucker is reported to have said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast” – and it’s true.

What’s also true is that, for this to be the case, culture needs a strategy to feed on. No-one wants an empty breakfast plate – so the two things go together.

Unfortunately, with vastly reduced incomes, businesses that have been forced to stall some of their creative operations are now being asked to resurge and the inclination (for the money people at least) is to retrench, conserve, trim, cut, slim down…

When you need to push forward, the guys in suits are the people to tell you to survive. Culturally, a battle is being played out in boardrooms where a fourth or fifth COVID wave is being experienced and where, now, we’re getting used to plan for the next re-opening.

Don’t trim too much

In business, it’s hard to avoid the temptation to trim away parts of an organisation when tough times loom. Typically, training gets canned, marketing budgets are an easy target, and even sales resource comes under pressure while the suits play God.

Resist the impulse. Good sense and pragmatism are just as useful in times of trouble as they are during periods of growth.

If you’re trying to get back to a version of your normal, please take another look at your options. You may need to change more than you realise and we’re here to help.

Future thinking. Future proofing. It’s what we do – and have done since 2014.

New normal

Inevitably, the events of the last three months have disrupted business and personal planning. Unprecedented circumstances have that effect.

Just before the world went into COVID-19-enforced lockdown, the UK was fixated on Brexit and guess what? It hasn’t gone away.

Other major global challenges (climate change, deforestation, plastic waste, air pollution (it’s returning)) are still out there too, but let’s, just for the sake of planning our short-term futures, have another look at Brexit.

Debt, grants and furlough

Since March, the UK has generated vast amounts of debt. Businesses are drawing on government support in the form of grants, loans and/or furlough funding, and also delaying paying rent and VAT. Hold that thought.


In June, the UK enters a critical period of negotiation over its future relationship with the EU.

If, by the end of June, we don’t reach an accord over matters such as fishing and an agreement over trade borders with Ireland, there may not be an agricultural policy deal, or any deal. Despite the UK government talking up its prospects of success, EU member states aren’t likely to agree a set of terms for the UK that are better than they can get themselves. This is part of the problem.

With no outline deal in place, we are heading for a no-deal exit that will come into effect on 1st January 2021: about the time when personal tax bills will be imminent; three months before business rents could be a full year overdue; and a couple of months before delayed VAT payments must be settled. That’s a lot of cash due to flow from businesses into the Government’s coffers within the space of a few weeks.

Future thinking

To an innovation agency that tells business to plan for the long-term, it’s clear that planning for even the next nine months, without the benefit of a certain trading relationship with our closest overseas markets and supply chains, will be problematic.

The signs are that 2021 also has the potential for new lockdowns, if COVID mutates into COVID-21. Restricted access to the workplace through enforced social distancing, app-led movement controls, face-recognition surveillance and zero return from banked cash will all still feature large.

We’re anticipating at least another year of disruption, uncertainty and risk of infection, and so, at room44, we’ll maintain a pragmatic approach of seeking new opportunities through the application of consumer-facing innovative practices.

Normal has moved on

If your business had a problem maintaining its supply chain when COVID first hit, or if you had to shut down your branch of a national chain, you probably understand the trust that previously brought customers to your door has now been diluted. Those small operators you didn’t worry much about before have been working away to fill the vacuum while you were away, and they’ve made gains in market share. It may only be local in your eyes, but it’s enough to keep them going.

Local is the new trusted brand equity

Lots of companies have pivoted into service models where their product can be delivered to consumers through new distribution methods. Even more, though, are waiting for the ‘new normal’ to float back into view, hoping that it looks a lot like the ‘old normal’.

As disrupted businesses cut back or close, there are people new to the jobs market and they too are trying to generate income by starting up a micro-business locally. Local is becoming the new trusted brand equity, further disrupting established business in a virtuous circle

Normal has moved on. Don’t wait for a return to business as it was – start working on a new plan. Tomorrow has always been different from today. Your tomorrow may be unrecognisable.

Future thinking. Future proofing. It’s what we do.

If you feel that the chasmic changes we’re all experiencing will affect your relationship with your customers, now is the time to work on that issue. The future will take care of itself and you need to take care of you.

What surprises our clients is how room44 pays attention to the detail they often take for granted. We do our best to unpick the connection between the business and what its customers will want. It may be that there isn’t a massive gap between the two, but it takes a new attitude to see a new opportunity. 


The work you’re doing now is what was on your to-do list yesterday.

This is your future, twenty-four hours on.

Always certain. Often wrong.

Looking at the next twenty-four hours, the probability is that there’s nothing major in your plan. Look back two or three weeks and everything has slipped; whatever we thought April looked like, it hasn’t worked out that way.

My forecaster friend comes to mind again. His favourite response to the question ‘how often do you get it right?’ is ‘I’m always certain and often wrong.’ And that’s the problem with prediction. It’s just not a science.

How do we formulate a plan?

So, accepting that we aren’t in full control of everything, how do we formulate a plan?

Read any room44 blog and you’ll see we focus on the end-user of your product or service, and the trends that are readable in their behaviours. It’s called Design Thinking, or Human- Centred Design. What it means is that we look at the need your customer has, and we work out how to meet it. We don’t try to shoehorn your product into their lives.

It’s always easier to see another person’s problem from an external perspective, and you need to apply the same objectivity to recognise your customers’ future needs before they can.

What surprises our clients?

What surprises our clients is how we pay attention to the detail they often take for granted. We do our best to unpick the connection between the business and what the customer will want. It may be that there isn’t a massive gap between the two, but it takes a new attitude to see a new opportunity.

If you feel that the chasmic changes we’re all experiencing will affect your relationship with your customers, now is the time to work on that issue. Design Thinking is our way of doing it and can be yours too. The future will take care of itself and you need to take care of you.

Talk to us. 

Click through to our ‘contact‘ No obligation. No fee.

Future thinking and future proofing is what we do.

Innovation, ‘new’ product development and creative strategy all have one thing in common; they are forward thinking concepts. Ideas that you have today will launch in the future, into a future market landscape and meet a need for a future consumer.

Nothing about the future has happened yet

Yes, straight line extrapolations of data will predict what might happen based on what went before but data isn’t able to anticipate anything new.


I was brought up watching movies that my dad liked to watch and he loved Westerns. Stories of outlaws and Marshalls. Almost every story involved a bank robbery so my impression of America was that banks got robbed a lot.

The assumed accuracy of this information conflicts with the reality. When Westerns were set, in roughly the second half of the 19th century, banks rarely got robbed. It’s reported that between 1850 and 1900 there were less than 10 bank robberies across all fifteen states of the US.

Following that logic I may have straight line projected and come up with a number for the 2000’s but probably would have missed what has happened and what will happen. According to FBI published data there were 2,451 bank robberies in the US in 2016.

But, this figure is now thought to be reducing

A significant reduction in cash being held by clerks in banks means that holding one up is less lucrative than it once was. It’s also easier to illegally extract money from many, many individuals directly through their bank accounts, online, with the right skill-set.

Don’t just trust the data

To innovate successfully it is essential to apply creativity, intuition and to start believing the signals you see by reading market landscapes. As you make product design decisions it’s really important to see the world through the eyes of your consumers. Through a different lens, if you like.

Sometimes you need help.

Future thinking. Future proofing. It’s what we do.

If this kind of thinking can be helpful to you, let’s talk.

Here’s my diary. Book some time.

And by the way, Tumbleweed isn’t something an American cowboy or bank robber would have seen too often either. It came from the Ukraine. Go figure.

Look through your LinkedIn feed any day of any week and you’ll find a discussion about homeworking. An enlightened manager will be lauded as a visionary for letting a team work from home for some of the week, and somewhere in the thread there’ll be a comment and the word ‘trust’ will come up.


Managers love discussing how much they can trust people who need to work even when they aren’t being watched. To me, this creates a picture in my head of a workhouse or a typing-pool: rows of people, head down and beavering away in silence. Throw an unused ping-pong table into the picture and you’ve got a modern-era open plan office.

Ask any field sales person what it feels like to be trusted to work from home and they’ll look you in the eye to see if your pupils are dilated. No-one doubts these guys do the work.

Companies know that people are motivated to work, to have purpose, to feel useful and to contribute value. But they still struggle to let them work from flexible locations, at flexible times.

They say, ‘Oh, we need to know when you’re available so you can interact.’ But staff know that too and if they need to be at a meeting or exchange ideas some other way, they’ll do it. There’s a strong body of evidence to support this theory: it’s called self-employment.

Companies today send representatives to networking meetings across the globe. At every gathering, the same complaints ring out: ‘there’s a chronic skills shortage,’ ‘we just can’t get qualified staff.’

No shit – really?


What – after decades of squeezing people into organisational structures that glorify the top end of the hierarchy, they’ve decided they’d rather work from home. Why do we wonder why they’d rather work with each other and without the need for an HR policy to manage corporate discrimination of various kinds?

And now they won’t come and work for a company? Go figure!

Let’s not blame it all on companies though. Governments have played their part. Layer in tax on benefits and take away vocational skills training from schools and it’s no surprise that kids aren’t flocking to be engineers, joiners or have an interest in manual skills. Television has done more to attract young people into cooking and the catering trade than high school learning options.

Fail to train kids in coding and digital skills, and they’ll go and learn ‘clean’ skills themselves from YouTube. Institutions like the Open University are struggling to find a new way forward when the whole world can learn to expert level without ever signing up to a course. Ironically, bricks and mortar universities have stolen a share of the market the OU used to dominate, simply by seeing that ‘digital’ and ‘distance’ are easy ways of encouraging people to join their course instead.


But I can hear you ask, isn’t that homeworking? Yup. Young and old working away to achieve a degree from a position of self-motivation. I wonder where that’ll fit into the workplace?

Written while working from home, 06.44, 23rd April, 2019.

Future thinking. Future-proofing. It’s what we do.

To learn about room44’s trends tracking service called outside insight let’s talk.

To stay relevant to your customers over the next couple of years you’ll need to be aware of mega trends: the very biggest macro factors.

Mega trends are those irreversible, slow-to-grow changes that we tend not to recognise as quickly as we might. It’s a bit like seeing a child (puppy, kitten) after a period of time: you notice their growth much more than if you see them every day.

Who do mega trends affect?

Mega trends affect us all. They offer opportunity and threat to business in equal measure. The opportunities presented by mega trends are visible to companies who actively look for ideas to grow. The threats that mega trends present are also clear to companies looking for ideas to grow. The message is this – if you’re not looking at trends, you aren’t seeing either growth opportunity or risk of disruption.

Here in the UK many brands, especially SMEs, are wrapped up in Brexit, and it’s become really easy not to look too far into the future. While Brexit is definitely a macro factor, it’s also been difficult to plan for.

True mega trends are usually easier to read than Brexit, and definitely more likely to open up an opportunity. These are some mega trends you might like to take a look at…

The sharing economy – this may be a hard one to get to grips with if you sell consumer products. As things are developing, your newest customers are making fewer capital purchases – but there are two sides to this.

If you sell sofas, you can rent out sofas. If you sell bikes, hire out bikes. The transition to a subscription model is not hard unless you just don’t see the need.

Personal Mobility – while governments around the world are pumping billions into the electrification of cars, there is an undercurrent of radical change that still has a long way to go.

Not only are cars and other vehicles subject to changes in fuel systems, with all the knock-on impact that will have on the automotive supply chain, but even this emerging market is under pressure from the sharing economy. This trend is going to run and run, and electricity won’t be the only fuel solution explored. This blog talks about this more:

Emotional intelligence – Human Resource departments are great at building systems to recruit team members who ‘fit’ with each other.

They have known for decades that IQ isn’t the only measure of probable effectiveness. Emotional Quotient (EQ) is now better understood and it’s being managed and exploited. EQ describes the way you monitor your emotions and the emotions of your colleagues, as well as how customers react in response to your brand messages. EQ extends through your recruitment, staff management and how you are able to manage consumer loyalty.

To build a sustainable brand position, your launch planning must be part of the innovation process and persona development at the earliest possible time.

The room44 Innovation Process takes EQ into account. Let’s talk about this complex part of your plan. You can book some time here to talk.

Ages of population – here’s how the ages of the various generations are described.

Your customer personas need to anticipate how the ages of your shoppers are shifting. It’s thought that 75% of the workforce in 2025 could be Millennials.

People who sit in Gen Z and Alpha will live well beyond 100 and have plenty of time for several discrete careers. What does this mean? Well, one theory is that Gen Zs are already approaching an age when their first business sectors are changing enough that they need to retrain.

Law – the legal systems we abide by have been developed over hundreds of years. Prevailing laws are the compound product of ideas and reactions to societal developments that have taken place over time.

History tells us that legislators are slow to evolve laws to meet a new situation, and yet the forecasted rate of change in many areas of our lives means that the legal system must accelerate to keep up. Laws rely on precedent to direct us, but technology is applying pressure here. Financial management, online business, digital fraud, autonomous vehicles, geographic and geo-fenced boundaries, artificial and human intelligence are a few examples of the areas where the law is evolving, but may need to anticipate what’s coming rather than react to what has happened.

These mega trends are just some of those that sit on the horizon. They’re already in play and will cascade to affect your customers’ choices, your brand positioning and your relationship with your buyers.

room44 watches trends, builds systems for our clients to watch for themselves and trains teams to innovate by being aware and informed about the way their markets are changing – before the change arrives.

 We can help with that. Call us to find out more: +44 208 144 9800 or click through to see how our outside insight service works. Don’t worry, there isn’t another form to fill in.

outside insight

Future thinking. Future-proofing. It’s what we do.

Presenting at a trade event gets the creative juices flowing. Sometimes this can be a good thing. Sometimes it leads to other ideas.

This is what happened this week. I was invited to present a short deck at Pro2Pac at London’s Excel. Appended to the annual IFE show, Pro2pac is a mash-up of machine and packaging manufacturers alongside smaller brands of, sometimes, niche and regional food products. It brings together a compelling mix of people and ideas.


My agenda time slot was titled ‘identifying and addressing consumer needs through intelligent design’.

My abstract read like this: Trends across consumer behaviour strongly signal that plastic packaging has lost its place in the hearts and minds of shoppers.

As Generation Z becomes more of a force in the buying community, companies grown and built on the belief that plastics present the best way of shipping CPGs and Produce, over long distance and in the extended supply chain, are being challenged.

How do we break the cycle that causes consumer frustration at the apparent apathy demonstrated by the packaging industry and its perceived lack of preparedness to accept responsibility for the change that is, in some peoples’ eyes, inevitable?

Already I can feel hackles rising amongst plastic packaging producers. So here’s my point: whatever output and efficiency targets incumbent producers need to hit to make money, how ever much the packaging industry tells us that we need plastic nets around oranges or seven-element packaging to make a pot of soup look premium, or a bag around bananas, or plastic wraps around trays of mushrooms… consumers know they don’t. Retailers may prefer pre-packaged goods to make the supply chain more efficient and to manage, their definition of, food waste within the system that the packaging industry and they have created – but consumers don’t NEED it.

With this single, unavoidable ‘black elephant*’ the packaging industry is losing the hearts and minds of consumers.

During my presentation, I referenced the work that is being done in class rooms with Key Stage 1 to 3 students in schools right now. Educating children about the impact of avoidable plastic usage and even more serious environmental concepts is having an effect.

Generation Z

Generation Z has received this information and the recent Greta Thunberg inspired schools strikes are an illustration of a change in the wind; new consumers beginning to make their feelings felt.

Not to put too fine a point on it, there’s a sentiment building.

With industry so hung-up on Millennials as the largest shopping age group, it’s no surprise that subsequent segments aren’t front of mind. For reasons of sustainability, yours and everyone else’s, Gen. Z should be. Do you even know what age Gen.Z is?

My presentation at #Pro2pac was along these lines. As an identified trend, age-specific shifts in attitudes towards consumerism is as clear as day. It’s signalled and is being shouted from all segments of your consumer audience. Resist all you like but if you don’t adapt and change, your business will feel it.

I’ve drawn a quick infographic that sums up this concept and you can get it here. It’s called ‘Who will you sell your packaging to?’ Have a look. I’m interested to talk to you if you agree with this sentiment. I’m more interested to speak to you if you don’t.

To talk about how we can help you re-envisage your product design strategy, we’re a call away and this link will drop time into my diary. Let’s talk soon.

*The Black Elephant is combination of boardroom clichés: the Elephant in the Room, the thing which everyone knows is important, but no one will talk about; and the Black Swan, the hard-to-predict event which is outside the realm of normal expectations, but has enormous impact.

If you haven’t heard of cross platform Apps until now and don’t see a connection with your market, it doesn’t mean something isn’t happening. It just means you haven’t seen it yet. We can change that and put you in a competitively stronger position. It starts with a call or an e-mail to us. Click here and most of the work is done for you.

What haven’t you seen yet?

When the iPhone launched, a decade ago, we all swooned over the colour-coded SMS trail. How much more creative could we expect a single brand to get? Surely Apple had reached its pinnacle.

Then Apple launched the App Store. Three short years later, iPhones made sense and the cost of buying software fell through the floor. Great news for us, even if it was a bit hard to comprehend at the time.

Since then, we’ve become conditioned to being diverted to App stores. Every one we download comes from a central iOS or Android store, and we navigate the journey like pros. But things are changing, and the redirection soon won’t be necessary.

The App Store is not an ’appy place

Cross platform Apps are already out there and growing in popularity. Across Android and Apple stores, you can choose from over four million (4,000,000) Apps today. Lots of them are duplications across platforms, but the next big shift in App usage is for them to be developed as a single product to run across platforms. It makes sense. Brands are already pushing them out to users without us needing to go to an App store.

As users, we may not see a huge difference. One less click in the UX maybe. But to the brand – no need to distribute through another channel, personal data collected directly, always on.

Cross platform Apps have access to all the bits of your operating system they need, like its camera and address book. Importantly, these apps can be used offline. For brands, this is great news. The way these Apps are built allows them to see your activity in a way that doesn’t intrude into your daily user behaviour. To the App Stores, it’s a problem: lost traffic, lost revenue, lost data – now we’re getting to the nub of the issue.

Off on a tangent (stay with me):

In other blogs, I’ve written about the serious impact electric vehicles will have on the sales of products that consumers (you) regularly buy from petrol stations – which seems obvious when you think about it. Now we see brands developing the opportunity to suck up your digital dust. These are connected concepts.

There are also efforts being made by larger brand owners (Unilever, Mars…) to deal directly with consumers and cut out the retail step in the consumer journey.

These are all signals of a trend that recognises the importance of knowing who your consumers are, how they behave, being able to anticipate when things need to be replenished, and knowing the most efficient way to get your product into their shopping baskets. From a consumer perspective, until the backlash happens and some of us decide we don’t want to give up our data quite so easily, this trend is developing in the background.

Apps for digital natives

When your kids get to market, because they are digitally native and, more importantly, have zero experience of analogue habits, these trends are showing us how they will shop.

Following this line of thinking, we can see how distribution channels may be reorganised. Whether bricks and mortar outlets will feature as much in our shopping habits as they do today is questionable. Whether wholesale and cash & carry outlets can maintain their foothold in this newly organised market is doubtful. Do they have time to do something to underpin their business in the face of trends that are gradually pushing them into obscurity? Of course they do. Will they? Are they? Not obviously, and not fast enough.

The signs are that…

Not enough of the people involved in traditional distribution are looking to their futures. As a result, unforeseen things will happen to them. But ‘unforeseen’ only because they aren’t looking, or choose not to believe what they see, or just can’t figure out what to do about the threat.

It’s fair enough to go along to an industry’s annual ball and pick up an award based on what you did in 2018. The trouble is, this isn’t where the battle is being fought.

Food distribution, technology, clothing, leisure, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, cars/mobility, retail… even culture and now Apps themselves are product and experience areas that are being differently managed as digital innovation. This not only presents new ideas, but changes whole industry sectors.

Our answer? Well, you can wait for the future to happen to you, or you can copy Jack Reacher: “hope for the best, plan for the worst.”

Randomly connected observations present opportunity

If seemingly unconnected signals like this are new to you, if you don’t see the connection between apparently random events and your market, or if you want to find an opportunity in this (and they are certainly there), get in touch.

Change of this kind is both a threat and an opportunity, depending on what you do next.

  • Knowing where to look for the signals is a skill.
  • Being able to believe the data is a skill.
  • Being able to see useable connections is a skill.

Doing any of these things will be the difference in your surviving industry change, or not; in waiting to lose orders to insurgent competition, or creating an opportunity for yourself; in being resurgent, pushing back and making the best of the tools you have at your disposal.

If you haven’t heard of cross platform Apps until now, if you don’t see a connection between your market and what is happening around you, it doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. It just means you haven’t seen it yet. We can change that and put you in a competitively stronger position.

It starts with a call or an e-mail to us, but you have to do that for yourself.

Click here and most of the work is done for you. Or call me. I look forward to talking. +44 (0) 208 144 9800

Future thinking. Future-proofing. It’s what we do.

The digital dust that brands give off every day, both as individuals and as businesses, may create an illusion of what’s on offer. The trouble is, there’s so much floating around, it’s difficult to get your particular dust in the eyes of your prospects.

So, prospective clients look for case studies. In B2B, this has become the low bar validation of a business’s credibility.

Social isn’t as social anymore

Have you noticed how some of your friends are not posting on Facebook as often as they used to? They might be reading the news on Twitter, but tweeting? Not so much.

This trend is being exploited by some clever brands. When they have something to say (sell), they’re everywhere. Otherwise, it’s hard to find them. Exclusivity in being absent.

Similarly, if you’re not looking on Instagram, you probably won’t see your teenage family or friends, and you won’t get to join the chat anyway, because WhatsApp, Messenger and Slack are the places to go for that – by invitation.

On the other hand, have you noticed a decline in advertising by the mass brands you follow? Probably not. Brands are so desperate to tell you how great they are that social platform revenues from advertising are still doing OK.

The ‘by invitation’ nuance is something to watch.

Gaining access to a private conversation is now a ‘must have’ in premium marketing. Being on the inside of a group shows that you are ‘one of us’ and gives you a pleasing exclusivity.

Exclusivity equals scarcity, which equals premium. If a consumer can get a social edge by being the first or the only one to have a new thing, they’ll be happy to pay for the privilege.

Where do you see these trends?

To see new trends before they really emerge, have a look at Instagram and Pinterest, go and see the new media being launched (like this one) – the disruptors are there and the things they’re spotlighting will soon be sought after.

You can forget Fast CompanyInc. and the rest, with their lists of 398 things we love and 128 other things you should do. These guys have lost their edge to Monocle and friends.

It doesn’t matter if you want to play in a fashion market, fruit and veg, automotive or even to see where people’s heads are at in plastics recycling, online is still the cheapest place to find the new ideas if you believe your own curiosity and intuition. For more free detail, go to the latest news outlets. It’s all there for you to explore.

So, where to look isn’t new, of course. But what’s out there is new to to the new audience, where the norm is for everyone to have access to everything, all the time.

And here’s why exclusivity is back: ‘always on’ is beginning to look a bit old. In fact, if you aren’t always on, where are you? Intrigue and brand-scarcity works if you can monetise exclusivity.

Back to case studies and digital dust.

Publishing details about the good stuff your company has done has become the basis of qualifying value propositions across markets.

Look at every website on the internet, and if a company has been there for more than five minutes it will have an ego wall of customer brand logos and a case study behind each one.

But what of the site that shows logos and no case study? What of the company that doesn’t show any clues about their track record? The question is moving from ‘well, if there’s no case study, did they really do that work?’ to ‘if there’s no case study, maybe we should talk to them to see what they delivered.’

Intrigue sells. It always has. The reason is that a buyer has to work for the benefit they perceive in the relationship. Show everything up front and the decision to talk or not is binary: yes or no?  Show a bit of what’s on offer, and a conversation has to start before anything else can happen.

Talk to us and you’ll find that whether we say it in a case study or not, the good work goes on in FMCG, pharma, culture, VMS, personal mobility/EVs, law, accountancy… we’re hard at work in and on all of these sectors.

It can be difficult to go into too much detail about our work, but you know what? Intrigue and exclusivity is what the clever brands are doing.

Want to know what we’re up to? You’ll have to email me to find out.

Click here and most of the hard work is done for you.

Seeing it differently. Future-proofing. It’s what we do.

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