Brands aim to tap new trends

17 February 2012

NEW YORK: Brand owners tapping "game changing" trends like making their products more "useful" to consumers, on-going innovation and breaking down silos could see major benefits, a study has argued.

Wolff Olins, the consultancy, recently surveyed 500 executives, and found that corporate confidence about exploiting new types of "value creation" peaked at 28% in Asia and 25% in North America.

"Traditional ways of doing business are not generating growth and global economies are suffering without it," Karl Heiselman, CEO of Wolff Olins, said. "Change is daunting, but the opportunities for businesses that adopt these new ways of doing business are enormous."

The first "game-changing" shift identified by the organisation's study was that companies need to become more "useful" to shoppers, helping them to be "smarter" and utilise their time and money effectively and efficiently.

Some 40% of interviewees agreed activities in this area - like letting consumers tailor goods or co-creation - should deliver long term growth topping 20%. A further 24% placed this figure at 11–20%.

Looking at the specific tactics seen as holding the most promise, only 22% of firms currently enable buyers to personalise products, 31% involve customers in R&D and 32% allow them to use goods in "flexible and adaptable ways".

Apple, the electronics group, was one company cited as a positive example here, alongside M-Pesa, a service assisting many consumers in fast-growth economies use mobile banking, and Zopa, a peer-to-peer lending service.

Elsewhere, 19% of the sample concurred that being "experimental" – or constantly innovating – could yield growth of 20% going forward. Members of the banking, energy, FMCG and hospitality sectors were especially engaged with this idea.

Respondents in Asia were particularly optimistic about deriving rewards from "being in a state of perpetual beta", as 34% of the panel expected to witness clear benefits from their moves here.

Google's rule of letting staff dedicate 20% of their working time to pet projects, and Tata's frugal innovation in India, covering everything from low-cost mobile phones to the Nano minicar, were mentioned as favourable examples.

Adopting "boundaryless" models was another key emerging strategy, and 85% of corporations that are prioritising this area have allied with "non-traditional" partners to leverage new revenue opportunities.

Being "purposeful" was also seen as an important notion, albeit one of unproven value. In all, 47% of firms were trying to be transparent and 46% were pursuing a "social good", even though this was not core to their growth plans.

On average, 42% of contributors predicted each of these trends would supply growth of 11% at minimum. An additional 22% anticipated the size of this sales lift should surpass 20%.

Data sourced from Wolff Olins; additional content by Warc staff