Fueled by rapidly advancing technology, an explosion in consumer touchpoints, and a wave of new digital-first brands exploiting lower barriers to entry, consumer expectations have changed
irrevocably. No longer satisfied with just purchasing a “product,” they want services that bring convenience to their lives and experiences that embody the brand purpose
they’ve bought into. They want brands to deliver something that’s “just right” for each particular moment in their lives.
Crucially, they also want to be far more
active participants in the brand at every stage.Consumers feel increasing “ownership” of the brands they love -- and they also know the best way to get the products they want is to help
design them themselves.
Startups stepping up Look at how purpose-driven brands like Ogee and Kopari are meeting consumer needs for natural cosmetics and ethical beauty,
placing new emphasis on the provenance and organic production of each ingredient and adapting the food industry’s “farm to fork” ethos into “farm to face” for beauty.
By exploiting new technology, many brands are already able to offer customers new experiences as well as individually tailored products and services. Consider how Mink’s
technology lets customers “3D-print” self-designed makeup at home.
Pivoting to relevance at scale So how can the big incumbent brands respond to this complex,
multifaceted web of consumer engagement possibilities? Relevance at scale isn’t something that happens by itself. It calls for a rethink of the entire value chain, all the way from developing
new ideas and concepts, through manufacturing, to the store shelf. There are four areas of focus in particular:
- Balance the brand
portfolio. Growth will come by a reinvention of brands shifting to serve the consumer through new products and services, with a realigned business model that delivers on consumer relevance. The
core business must be transformed and managed while the focus shifts to new engines of growth, whether through M&A, in-house innovation, or both.
- Get out into the integrated marketplace. Brands must look beyond linear value chains to exploit the multitude of consumer touchpoints that now exist, adapting the product,
service, message, experience, even packaging to the needs of each individual at each moment. Brands also need to face up to the impact of ecommerce giants, working out a strategy that optimizes
customer experience on these hugely popular platforms.
- Partner up. Few brands are positioned to go it alone. The majority need to be
looking to partner with a much greater range of other players across the ecosystem (retailers, suppliers, technology innovators, etc.)
truly digital behind the scenes. To support these new business and operating models, companies need agility above all. They must ensure data and insights flow through their organizations as
smoothly as their products, leveraging digital manufacturing/operations and new ways of working to enable rapid responses to consumer needs.
Put simply, doing nothing is not an option.
For every incumbent brand that struggles to adapt, there are numerous well-funded startups ready to step in and eat up market share. So realigning portfolio strategies, operating models, and
technology architectures to deliver evolution is now essential to maintaining competitive advantage. For brands, it’s nothing less than the foundation of future growth.