We all know that the most important issue to be discussed, kept front and center and consistently focused on is the customer. But once you make sure you have that base covered, you need to devote your time and energy to taking a look at what is happening outside of your business. What is going on in the world, in society, and with the economy could impact your business – negatively or positively.
This economy, the Trust & Value Economy, is fast-moving and volatile. If you do not pick your head up and look outside now and then, you may get blindsided by a potential landmine — or miss an amazing opportunity that could mean a whole new level of success for you and your company.
Whether I am coaching with a client one-on-one, or I am consulting with their entire company, I insist they look at trends and outside influences at least once a quarter. In fact, I do it for my own business. Then based on what I find, I put together my list of trends: those opportunities I see just waiting for professionals and business owners to take advantage of.
Here is my list!
- The Empowered Consumer – You have heard me say it time and time again: consumers are running this economy. They are in charge and they are flush with personal power. They have been infused with control, they know it, and they are well on their way to getting more of it. Today’s consumers have a multitude of options to buy products and shop for services. They are knowledgeable and have all the information they need at their fingertips. They have a voice to share what they think and feel, and thanks to chat rooms, blogs and YouTube, that voice can be heard by millions within moments. YES, personal power is on the rise, and in the next ten years, technology, global interconnection and increased competition will create a consumer that is larger than life!
- Frugal Movement – Value anyone? Yes, this new economy has given way to a newly empowered consumer, but also to a new type of consumer: a frugal consumer. More than just this economy has changed; so has the consumer. Gone are the days of abundance and overspending. Today’s consumers are smart, savvy, and seeking value for their money. They know they can get it cheaper, so you have to convince them they can get it better from you. Gone are the days of wasteful spending; it is hip to be frugal!
- Welcome Gen Flux –If you love change, this is your economy! The most desirable employee today is one who embraces innovation, drives change, desires personal growth, and loves a challenge. Want security in your job? Sorry, those days are gone. Companies can’t provide it, the experts can’t predict it, and the economy certainly does not guarantee it. No worries: today’s most desirable employees would run from a job that offered it. The most important skill you can have in today’s economy is the ability and desire to learn new skills. If you expect to be doing your job just like you did it last year, then plan on finding a new job, because your company and your co-workers can’t afford to have you on the team anymore.
- Boomers Boomerang – They’re back! Here comes this crazy generation again; they just won’t go away. Aren’t they supposed to retire? No Way! The opportunities for this generation are endless – they have money and are willing to spend it. More than 62% of boomers approaching retirement age plan to work at least another ten years. They want to live active lives and they are ready to spend to invest in their health, stay in their homes, travel, and create new experiences.
- Healthy Investment – The health industry both in this country and around the world is exploding, and you can expect to see it keep rising. We are obsessed with our health — all of it — from eating and drinking our way into disease and obesity, to the rise of home gyms and preventive medicine. The health care industry is growing and in both directions. Alternative medicine has nearly doubled in the last five years. More than 36 percent of Americans are seeking preventive health care, and that number is expected to double again in the next five years. At the same time, there is no slowing the obesity rate and onset of diseases associated with it. In 1990 not a single state had an obesity rate in adult population greater than 14%; today only one state (Colorado) has less than 20% obese adults. Businesses and organizations on both sides of the health and wellness industry are going to grow and expand. No pun intended.
- Go Grow Green – Social consciousness has gone mainstream. With population growth rates out of control, issues such as water quality and air pollution have become a global problem. More than 50% of CEOs say being green is important, and government funding for green initiatives remains one of the few programs not suffering from government cutbacks. If you want to grow, go green!
- Rabid Collaboration and Connection – In a world that is becoming more fragmented, and with competition at an all-time high, we are seeing a rise in the desire of people to get and stay in touch. Even former business rivals are finding ways to work together. More than half of the world’s population reports being active in social networking sites, and in third world countries you are more apt to find a cell phone than food and clean water. Former competitors are going the way of cooperation. This “if you can’t beat ‘em then join ‘em” mentality finds competitors becoming fast frenemies.
- Internet Shopping – Google has become a “real” word! Enough said. Before we buy it, we google it, and often we buy it online. A National Report of holiday shoppers shared that 87% of respondents reported they prefer to shop online. Wake up – reaching, talking to and ultimately selling to consumers is changing drastically. Are sales professionals a thing of the past? No. Just as the radio wasn’t destroyed by television, the professional sales person will always be around . However, consumer passion for internet shopping is greatly changing the game.
- Love ‘em/Leave ‘em Consumers – Don’t look now, but if your customer service program is not front and center in your business, then you are in serious trouble. Why? Because there is no room — I repeat — no room for error; one slip, one mistake with your customers and they are outta there. When you combine a frugal consumer with an empowered consumer, you have a consumer who wants not only a quality product but expects a quality experience. And giving them what they expect? Well, it is just not good enough. You need to be continually, consistently and regularly questioning the level of service and quality you provide your customers, at every level in your organization, at every touch point and with every person. What you did last year – well, it is just so last year!
- Total Chaos – Welcome to the Trust & Value Economy. Charles Darwin said it best: It is not the strongest species that will survive – it is not the most intelligent – but the one most adaptable to change. Face it: we are living in a time of total chaos. How many people are using the same cell phone they did five years ago? How many people ten years ago had even heard of Skype? Today’s economy is global, diverse, and constantly changing. The variables are limitless. Predicting what is going to happen is a waste of time, and planning for the future is a guessing game. Get ready – the ride is bumpy, shifting, and you need to be flexible!
So, if those are the trends… why do we care? What does it matter to me? Why do I need to be aware? Whether you own a business or just work in one, these trends are going to impact your life. Not only are these changes happening to the economy and to your company, they are happening to you. We have entered the Age of Personal Responsibility, and you have a choice to make. Do you want to survive in this economy or do you want to thrive? Because make no mistake: it is a choice, and a choice only you can make.