In 2023 we’ve seen seismic shifts in attitude responding to the many mega and macro events around the world.
It’s possible we’ll look back and wonder what all the fuss was about when our worlds have tilted a bit more in 2024.
The adage, if not now, when, used to be a great way of persuading innovation workshops to be bold and creative. The truth is that, whatever walk of life you look at, if not now, when is actually, if not now, soon.
In fact, it’s might be more accurate to say that change will hit you, if not now, it’s already in the wind.
The next decade is so primed to change everything we know about real and virtual relationships, political norms, financial stability, democracy across medical science and so many other fundamental structures that underpin societies, that factors are, actually, too many to count – or even point at.
Just one thing
Looking at these issues from the UK informs a perspective that we, as future-gazers, try to avoid.
Yet, one of the factors that we’ll take into 2024 is that two thirds (+66%) of countries currently recognised as democratic will go to the polls in the same year (UK, EU, US and more).
This is the first time it has happened since anyone started counting in the 1960s. It could be quite a moment.
Left or right?
Forecasts suggest that the UK will swing to a left leaning government.
Other places (US and big chunks of the EU) are heading further to the right than they already are.
Populist leaders have had a good run and some may survive the opportunity to change. Some won’t.
Protectionism is on the rise in the US and UK, amongst others, and history tells us that this rarely ends well but may prevail for a while. It’s hard to unravel a shit show when you first come into power.
Looking out slightly further we see more change-inducing trends to impact us.
Nigeria has a population today around 219 million of which 50% is under 19 years old. 70% is under 30.
The Nigerian population growth curve is set for it to reach 377 million by 2025 and 733 million by 2100.
Think about that; a new +400 million workers under 30 from one country.
If China and India are your sources for products now, start looking for this to affect you.
Nigeria’s population will equal the US as joint third most populous country sometime soon. Those people need food and work. It is possible to think that China and India may find their GDP hard to maintain with this kind of disruption in the world manufacturing order.
What does it matter?
All manner of manufactured goods could be differently sourced with new supply opportunities.
All kinds of manufacturing could be differently located with a different attitude to access to labour.
Some enlightened nations are actively developing inward migration opportunities.
If ‘growth’ is still the driving target behind our, broadly, capitalistic objectives, more people equals more output and it’s possible to see this translating into more success for Nigeria than the UK, for example.
How do you read it?
How trawling for trends can identify risks and opportunities at the same time.
The people my wife teaches ‘A’ Level to recently had a conversation about the current tranche of dystopian TV shows, exampled by Station 11.
The class showed empathy at how a pandemic can change normal lives but couldn’t begin to imagine that anything would stop the internet. It didn’t compute.
That the internet relies on electricity wasn’t a connection they’d made.
That mobile phones ran on the same stuff also came as a surprise – in a moment of alarming realisation.
The relative problem of the internet may not have occurred to seventeen-year olds and it may not to you either.
This made me think. Our perspectives inform our view of our futures. Logically, we don’t know what we don’t know – or choose to see.
In business today there are people who were born this century alongside others who watched England win the World Cup, watched the first moon landing, Vietnam, the Torrey Canyon, Exxon Valdis, the Khmer Rouge, the Falklands… There are five generations working at the same time.
Older generations may find it easier to imagine a wholly different set of predictions than those born into a digital age.
Our common concerns are the same but our attitudes towards them could vary.
The probability of a failure in the UK national power transmission system is estimated at between 1% and 5%. At the upper end this means that there’s a 1 in 20 chance of national power interruption at any one time.
How would you cope?
- No water supply or sewage services
- No internet
- No fuel distribution or logistics
- No lights or heat…
Who do you trust?
More importantly, how much do you trust the people who control the systems that keep you running to do their jobs? Following the UK Air Traffic Control failure in August 2023 the questions around how small but pernicious data errors could be catastrophic, are very conspicuous.
The thing about viewing emerging trends is that other stuff comes into view at the same time. Being innovative and looking for information that can inform strategy is one side of the coin.
Seeing a better informed reality and being able to assess risks is the other.
Put together, the data set allows us to estimate the probability that your innovation/ product development/ new service will enjoy commercial success.
And it all comes from being interested in what’s going on around you.
This is what we do.
To talk, write to me firstname.lastname@example.org
You remember that old saying that consultants trot out when they’re there to help develop a long-range strategy: the best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago, the next best time is now?
It’s a great saying. It tells us where we’ve all gone wrong, and it instils a sense of utter hopelessness – all that time gone and no way back.
The best time to plant a tree to sit under
One of the people we watch, for good reason, is legend amongst wealth generators and head of Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffet. I was reminded recently in an article in The New European by Patience Wheatcroft that he put it better; “Someone’s sitting in the shade of a tree today because someone planted a tree a long time ago”.
I’ve previously referred to Prof. Hal Hershfield’s book called Your Future Self where the relationship between our present self is so far removed from our future self that we tend to spend our income now rather than invest it for our future when the latter is more prudent. Something Warren Buffet probably agrees with.
Short termism is possibly the most catastrophic human failing that we are seeing affect the future of everything that we know, today.
- Let’s get through this month and hit the target
- Let’s try to pay the mortgage
- Let’s not accept a reduction in tail pipe emissions if it means paying a ULEZ fee
- Let’s not pick a policy and stick to it when we know that it’s absolutely the right thing to do if it threatens our grip on power and influence today
Like the microcosms that influence your decisions in your businesses, the need to stay ahead supersedes the rationale long-term.
Tail pipe emissions
There are lots of examples of short-termism to point at that will negatively affect a wider cohort over time. The UK Labour party turned on its own member’s (Sadiq Khan) decision to impose the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) policy across wider London to save a bit of influence. The undeniable truth is that tail-pipe emissions are killing some of the same people who voted against the policy. Why? Because the immediate affect is a £12.50 per day charge. No-one needs that right now.
The rationale response could otherwise be, why are we voting down a Labour policy created by Conservatives (namely by Boris Johnson) when we could invest £250 a month in a newer, less damaging car or bikes for the family that will reduce air pollution, reduce asthma and other respiratory related illness, and cost less in fuel consumption.
Influencers know this
Picking out single things we can all do to make a difference is obviously right.
Influencers with a macro view of our conditions know this. Greta Thungberg’s little book of wisdom, No one is too small too make a difference or Alistair Campbell’s But what can I do? are responding to a trend and a craving for individuals to be able to make a difference.
Collectively we can. But it would be easier to reconsider our points of view if we weren’t always chasing down increasing mortgage costs and higher food and fuel prices or that monthly target. These priorities have the effect of keeping our minds in the present.
But, what can I do?
Our first job individually is to decide what is our priority and then who best represents us?
The people who want to represent us need to treat our priorities as the point of having influence and not as a means to getting it.
Most Mondays we try to publish a short list of thought-provoking facts that bear some relevance to the time of year and current events.
It’s not a science project, rather a list of things that catch our eye during the week from reading, viewing and absorbing by osmosis.
If anything grabs your attention, please get in touch. It’ll be a pleasure to talk; email@example.com.
Music streams in the US broke one trillion streams this year, up 11.9 billion on 2021.
Tortoises living to 150 years old do so in the same youthful state as when they were 50.
Future of work
“…employees working from home could be “socially disconnected from their organization.” Their work could be less inspired, …, and companies could experience higher turnover.”
- Malcolmn Gladwell, https://www.cnbc.com/2022/08/12/malcolm-gladwell-on-the-evolution-of-his-working-from-home-stance.html
Wework reimagined – watch the growing trend for redundant retail space. Failed (and failing) department stores are being regenerated as retail units combined with food courts and shared work space.
UK inflation examples, in the last year:
Cheddar cheese +26%
Dog food +31%
Brussel Sprouts -2%
- The Grocer
In 2019, three years after the ‘BREXIT’ referendum, Jacob Rees-Mogg is quoted as having said “I can see the opportunities of cheaper food, clothing and footwear, helping most of all the incomes of the least well-off in our society.”
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.
Maybe now it’s time to think about innovation.
Pivoting to grow
Being honest, if room44 had stayed wedded to its core business at the start of 2019, we probably wouldn’t be here today. When the pandemic shut the UK economy down, we had already opened a new venture that became our growth opportunity for 2020 and 2021. Since then we’ve also added a new ‘artisanal’ product stream to our portfolio and room44 innovation consulting has resurged.
This all came about from a reading of market trends that indicated strong growth in areas that we may not have leant into without an understanding of the probable impact of world events. We were deep into the Brexit transition back in Q1 2020 so ‘change’ was inevitable. All we had to do was take it seriously.
Old business clinging on to old ways
Since Lockdown #1, many thousands of people have seen huge shifts in their work lives. Lay-offs have released people to pursue their own dreams, as well as throwing others into the grip of financial despair. One impact of this is that the UK is doing better than ever at creating new businesses and poorly at letting old ones die naturally.
In Q1 2021 Companies House recorded a record increase in new company incorporations – up by 24%. According to Fathom Consulting, the UK now hosts @4.5 million privately owned companies and more Unicorns (£1bn+ companies) than France, Germany and Sweden combined.
So, the government has made it possible for new business to start, grow and thrive with more bounceback funding, including another £1.5bn available to support start-ups* but the same financial support has also allowed businesses that were struggling to stumble on for longer. Loans, grants and furlough funds have let companies reset. The downside is that some of them should have simply stopped being.
Hope as a strategy
An article by Matthew Lynn in The Saturday Telegraph a few months back argues that old business is clogging up the very system that should help new companies grow (Recovery depends on killing Zombie companies). It’s a good point. SMEs are a tenacious bunch and won’t give up easily, but hanging on and hoping isn’t a strategy.
Building a new vision based on new market dynamics, seeing a less-than-obvious opportunity and then acting on the vision is what will help old business survive. If you have any doubt, look at the current crop of start-ups – looking at things differently is exactly what they have done.
What is innovation?
If you’re a follower of Clayton Christensen, you’ll recognise the definition of disruptive innovation as being “a process by which a product or service takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of a market and then relentlessly moves up market, eventually displacing established competitors.”
In the context of re-imagining a business’s potential in order to survive, maybe a less ambitious definition is appropriate. How about something like – taking ideas that work in other places that we can make work here.
Business development asks you to grow your business. Innovation asks you to offer your customers something different than they can get today to satisfy a need differently, or to meet a new need entirely. This isn’t innovation in its truest sense but, if the process demands that a failing business changes what it does for the survival of the company and gives their customers something newly valuable to buy, let’s give it the benefit of the doubt.
If you’ve relied on government funding to get you through a tough patch and are worrying about how to cover the wage bill now that furlough funding is over, now is a really good time to think about a change in direction.
As the saying goes, the best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The next best time is today. If you’re an established business who wants to talk to an agency that has done exactly that, drop us a line.
Future thinking. Future proofing. It’s what we do.
room44 takes a sideways look at non-obvious trends currently developing and asks; who does this affect?
Chapter 1: Challenging questions:
- Politics in the UK.
- Cladding and negative equity.
- Interested party pacts.
Listening and watching news in June 2021 it feels as if life is good.
The UK is emerging from a year of COVID-19 lockdown, the summer is coming, pubs and restaurants are re-opening, the Conservatives have just had a landslide victory in local elections, with the implication that consistency at the top is what the UK wants. In the UK, at least, if we believe the news media COVID-19 might be a manageable problem.
Hooray, let’s go to the pub… and most of us did.
Then the hangover happened and with the cold light of day questions emerged.
To be honest, what you’re about to read is snapshot of what I’ve read, heard and seen since the euphoria of meeting people socially – and maybe you can help me join some dots together.
Politics in the UK.
The UK is one party state.
The UK is gradually regressing into its constituent parts. When Scotland votes to leave the union it’ll only take Cornwall and Yorkshire to declare independence for the everyone here to need a passport to drive from one end to the other.
Objectively, while the majority of the UK, apparently, all vote for the same political party, the place is pulling itself apart which seems a bit contrary to reason.
As a competent alternative to conservative rule, the Labour party has spent more than enough time kicking itself to death and has given us with great example of a brand failing to change with its audience. Becoming less relevant, they entered the last general and local elections without realising that ‘Labour’ is a moniker rooted in a forgotten era of industry and collective bargaining. Those days have gone and the red flag flies now over people who don’t remember what it meant.
Will Labour do the work needed to reinstate itself as a serious government candidate before the next election (and probably the one after that too)? No. Of course it won’t and so the electorate can look forward to an uncontested parliament for another decade.
With best will in the world, for Greens, Liberals or anyone else to make a serious dent in the UK Tory power base, something fundamental has to change. The signs are that they won’t despite the massive vote-winning assistance potentially offered by the biggest and most obvious crisis ever to emerge across the world – global climate change.
Cladding and negative equity.
We live in an odd period of history for all kinds of reasons. There’s always one reason or another but this particular moment in time has us sliding towards more central control, less freedom of movement, more censorship, less liberty…
Part of the conditioning that we in the UK are subject to is that home ownership is the pinnacle of achievement.
If you’ve never done this, try applying for credit and tick the ‘not a home-owner’ box and see what happens. If you want to know what it feels like to be treated like a second-class citizen this is a good way to start.
So keen are we to own property that some of us opt to buy a lease. Today, what happens when that property is found to be a serious threat to your life, because the structure of the place is significantly flammable, is a travesty.
You may need to research this but here are the bones of the issue. In the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster it has been found that many properties of the same kind are at the same risk of fire.
Understandably, until the guilty cladding is replaced these properties have little or no value on the property market.
It’s a complicated area of law but the bottom line (in my mind) is that freeholders appear to be able to pass the cost of refurbishment on to leaseholders which, in most cases, far exceeds the leaseholders’ ability to pay.
So, despite buying a lease in good faith that the home is safe and fit for purpose, it transpires that when it is found not to be, the purchaser is liable. Caveat emptor to say the least and stalemate.
It isn’t the first time the ‘little guy’ gets the rough end of the stick or that politicking is used to wiggle out of paying for mistakes made in the past. Unfortunately, in a period when the country has to stay at home through an imposed lockdown, those people who already felt unsafe, also have this extra concern for their personal safety.
Threats to van life.
In a property market that already excludes a huge tranche of people, young and older, in the UK because of the consistent rise in house values well beyond inflation rates; and in the face of doubts over the safety of some more affordable options, people are turning to alternative living arrangements.
There’s a real buzz around tiny living and van life, at the moment. It sounds romantic – and can be, but there’s a threat to this non-conformist trend that needs understanding.
To want to live in a van takes some level of dissatisfaction with traditional arrangements – or an inability to be able to afford rents or mortgages – or a rejection of the price of doing so. I’ve got a mortgage and sometimes I wonder if it’s a good decision to keep it going.
Some say that when everything is counted, the capital gain from owning a house over the life of a mortgage do much more than match the outlay. Anyhow, If you live in a van and enjoy that way of life, good luck to you.
However, our conditioning is so strong that when a van parks up on your street there’s a temptation to be wary. The Lady in the Van movie made suburbanites wonder what they’d do in that situation and regular press coverage of alleged traveller misdemeanours could be behind another governmental move to restrict the liberty of an ‘alternative’ lifestyle.
A bill has been in development and on Tuesday 16th March, 2021 the UK government held the second vote in parliament for the new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill*.
MP’s voted in favour by a majority, and the bill now goes to the committee stage, followed by the House of Lords before it becomes enshrined in law.
What is it?
This law enhances the Police’s power to confiscate the property of, particularly, van dwellers if they suspect that the occupiers may commit a crime in the future. The confiscated property can be kept for an indeterminate period.
So, we have a government supporting the removal of homes from people who have no other shelter, on the basis of nothing more than a potential complaint from another citizen and/or the suspicion that they may commit a crime someday.
Add this new law to existing wide-ranging surveillance, number plate recognition, banking and insurance monitoring networks and, even before facial recognition really finds its feet in the UK and we have a serious and insidious control of our civil liberty building in the background.
As a user base we’ve already given up our personal data to our mobile phone networks and we know our online footprints are regularly monitored so, it’s no real wonder that some of us are trying to find a bit of off-line space to live in.
News media and party pacts.
If you read and consume the same media as I do, we’ll probably have a similar view of the world. If you don’t, we won’t.
This is the reason I founded room44; to offer company teams different views of markets and market influences to reveal opportunities, not otherwise apparent.
It has always been the responsibility of the individual to search out your truth. You can doi this by consuming content from different media outlets that have different biases: political, commercial, cause or whatever.
So, a supposedly unbiased and independent media outlet is a good thing to know about.
Here, in the UK, it is widely believed that the BBC is that body but…
Where some stories get coverage, less headline-worthy items such as Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill would, seem to get less. Personally, I can’t remember ever seeing it mentioned and I, for one, wonder why?
Media has always been available to support any specific idea/notion/belief and today is no different – except the number of outlets is huge, making it easier than ever to find validation of any and every idea with a few clicks on a keypad.
Consequently, people in business can avoid reading the other side of the argument with zero effort and so, a balanced opinion becomes less easy to arrive at.
The unofficial contract that is said to exist between the establishment and media outlets controls what is published on a daily basis. Media briefings have the effect of pushing content creators in specific directions. Effectively, this controls what news we are fed every morning.
While social platforms have made it easier to avoid only seeing propaganda published by ‘interested parties’, the establishment has got better at managing the news agenda which can be seen in action every day with the focus swinging from more contentious issues to more palatable ones without much logic.
Taking a consumer view of the factors, such as those described above, and making connections between them can be useful in informing your product strategy.
For example, consumers buying vans for conversion, camping equipment, hardware and conversion services, solar panels etc all buy their products from someone.
Camping space that closes for the winter are seeing year-round demand.
The companies that sell these products may want to look at the potential for the impact of new laws to affect what they sell and who they sell to.
It bears some monitoring. To be continued.
Future thinking. Future proofing. It’s what we do.
- The Bill contains enhanced police powers to deal with public order and wider offences and increased sentences for breaching conditions imposed on assemblies and processions by the police. These proposals have significant implications for the right to protest, an aspect of the rights to free speech and free assembly.
- The Bill contains a new offence targeted at persons residing on land without permission, coupled with powers to seize property. These have implications for the right to respect for the home and the right to peaceful enjoyment of possessions, of both the landowner and the resident, and may have a disproportionate impact on particular ethnic groups.
- The right to respect for private life is engaged by the Bill’s proposed power to extract information from electronic devices.
- The Bill also proposes a number of changes to sentencing, including extending the use of ‘whole life orders’ and altering sentencing for children and young people, with ramifications for the right to liberty and the rights of victims. Changes to community sentences also give rise to concerns about respect for private life and the home.
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]room44’s data-driven approach reveals hidden trends and new opportunities to help you create high-performing, sustainable product strategies. The result? A strategic vision that is actionable in the short, medium and longer term – increasing revenue, promoting growth and encouraging brand tenacity.[/author_info] [/author]
The last few months may have been tough for some of you because of the limitations on work and communication, but for others it has been a period of blessed relief.
Coming out of lockdown and back into a regular work pattern will fill some people with dread.
Uncertainty around what kinds of business will succeed, fed by commentary across all media, isn’t helping. If we aren’t reading stories about the amazing growth rate of lockdown start-ups, we’re being told that everything established will fail.
Don’t worry. Things are no more difficult than they always were – but they are different.
How to work it through
Getting serious about the questions is a start. Can you honestly, hand-on-heart, say you’ve interrogated the probability that you can continue as before?
Try listing ideas that you could pivot into right now. You’ve probably got a sense of a latent idea that could be developed to generate sales sometime. Write it down, and work out whether it’s something to consider immediately.
Try this every day for a week. Sit and jot down ten ideas. Do it again tomorrow and the day after, and it may surprise you how often the ideas you like the most will come to the surface.
What’s a scenario?
A scenario is an anticipation of what could happen to your business at any time.
Being brutally honest with yourself and your team is another hard exercise but hugely valuable.
We’d recommend you have a minimum of three scenarios in play all the time: everything stays the same, everything goes wrong, everything goes better than imagined. By thinking this through, you gain a sense of the external factors that are heading your way and start to look further out to see emerging threats and opportunities.
For example: what would the worst day look like?
When you’ve had that thought, what would you do to:
- Avoid it
- Use it
- Create a product/system/process/service to resolve the issue presented
Acting on #3 might prevent it happening at all.
Similarly, what would the best day look like: for example, what would you do if Google came knocking to make you an offer to buy?
None of this is brain surgery, but business leaders don’t record these thoughts often enough. You may have the thoughts in the shower, but your team can’t contribute unless you share them.
The customers you supply are changing their behaviours in response to consumer demands more quickly than anyone can keep track of, which means that your value proposition will also need to change.
If you’d like someone to work with your team on this kind of exercise, you know where we are.
Download our free guide to trend identification here.
Future thinking. Future proofing. It’s what we do.
Expo 2020 posed 50 questions that were relevant when the organisers were planning the event.
Since then, Expo 2020 has been postponed by a year and many of the known knowns have become irrelevant or accelerated.
Take a look at the attached list of 50 questions (faithfully reproduced from the original) and consider how your perception of the world, viewed at the macro level, has altered in one short year.
This is the kind of stimulus that room44 uses in our scenario planning activities. After all, if you don’t know how your environment will change, how can you know how to fit into it?
Let’s discuss. Make a date here.
Future thinking. Future proofing. It’s what we do.
As I write this in August 2020, Russia is promising a mass vaccination campaign against COVID-19 in October, while Western hopes are pinned on a number of vaccines currently under trial, including one developed by Oxford University in the UK.
The media has latched on to vaccination as a game-changer against the infection caused by coronavirus, medical press is less certain. What if there is no cure? And, even if an effective vaccination is approved, what if not enough people are vaccinated for it to be successful?
While we ride out the current phase of uncertainty, countries are once again shutting down whole states and cities, because the only way to ringfence infection at this stage is to isolate people until they no longer have the capacity to pass on the disease.
In this context, let’s consider what else may have changed forever, as far as it may relate to your business.
Handshakes and cheek kisses
In a world where face masks in enclosed spaces, sanitising hands and surfaces, and wearing protective gloves are becoming accepted behaviour, it’s hard to see how our social norms can return.
Across a society where we use physical metrics to decide who is attractive, and where we feel our way into relationships through touch, how will physical distancing affect our ability to make new connections?
By the time the second wave of COVID has been experienced, it’s probable that we may all behave with a more active sense of self-preservation.
How will facial beauty treatments be carried out? Will piercings once again be a do-it-yourself activity? How can facial recognition technology work in a crowd wearing masks? Will any of us go to concerts or theatre performances?
Despite cultural events pitching new dates for 2021, there’s a good chance the hospitality sector will never regain its market size or dynamism.
Is this bad news? As always: yes and no. There will be winners and losers, and there will be people who see a different way forward. Perhaps smaller, more selective, higher-margin events will become popular, where mass catering and mass everything else isn’t necessary, and where a concierged experience will reflect the true value of the event. This model already works well in certain price bands and we can see the sub-segment growing.
Marketing and ..isms
The issues around race, gender and age bias may seem relatively straightforward, but major changes are a long time coming, and the fight for equity and equality goes on.
One thing that lockdown has done is to give people time and space to listen to a growing volume of content and active campaigning that continues to argue for a level playing field for everyone. Battles may not yet be won, but awareness of the micro-aggressions of daily life is growing, and rightly so.
While division and bias live on, if you’re a business that values young white men over older black women as customers, you should be asking yourself how you explain this.
The mega-changes that have taken place through the first wave of COVID are another sign that things are unlikely to return to the way they were. And yet we constantly hear that the companies are waiting for a ‘return to business as usual’ or to understand what the ‘new normal’ will be. Such passivity is understandable, but cannot move your business forward.
And away from COVID-centric issues, other things are going on.
Macro matters too
Poland is to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention, the piece of legislation that offers legal protection for women against violence towards them.
Hungary’s nationalist government is continuing to restrict the activities of the press amid a takeover of its media by far-right interests – read the latest from index.hu by starting here.
The US plans to ban TikTok, claiming a threat to national security, and following an unfortunately low turnout from younger people at recent presidential rallies.
Antarctica is seeing methane leaks from the ocean floors, potentially marking an escalation of the climate warming already causing rising sea levels. At the same time as countries and corporations are pledging to be carbon neutral, nations like Brazil continue to destroy their natural rainforests and fail to contain the illegal export of wild animals.
If you’ve never considered any of this as important to you, or even considered it at all, it may be time for a rethink.
Your new normal
When companies sit down to ideate and decide on their futures, there’s no obligation for them to consider any of these matters. But, without a perspective that encompasses how your business sits in a new world order, how can you determine where or who you’ll trade with? How can you feel confident about treatment of workers if you buy from low-cost manufacturing in, say, Poland? Where did that animal-based ingredient you use actually come from? How will you reduce the negative contribution of your plastic packaging to the environment?
Your new normal is for you to define. There will be no magic wand, and the way you present your company and your brand must change as we move into a more enlightened but infinitely more challenging era. Your brand story can resonate only if you understand who you are selling to and what their specific need is – as well as what it will be.
These are the challenges room44 thrives on and that we’re equipped to work through with you. To explore the opportunity, book an exploratory chat here.
Future thinking. Future proofing. It’s what we do.