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How will these 5 Global Megatrends Trends impact your business?

Simon McKeon, the CSIRO Chair, recently spoke about five megatrends impacting the world over the next few decades. 

The five megatrends he spoke about were
  1. The aging population
  2. The economic shift from east to west
  3. Declining biodiversity
  4. Technological connectivity, and
  5. The rising demand for experiences over goods

These megatrends are great reference points for every organisation to consider in its strategic planning. They can help stretch your thinking beyond the challenges and demands of today.

The question to ask is - how well placed is your organisation to leverage and/or de-risk your future based on these megatrends?

From a business perspective here are some thought starters:

The aging population - In McKeon’s view the trend with the biggest relevance to Australia is the change in demographics given our fast aging population. We are clearly seeing some sectors – health, aged care, housing – already tailoring offers to make the most of this shift. It’s worth considering how could you target this increasing segment? Are there variations or new versions of your products or services that could better meet their needs?

Also, how are you delivering today to an older segment? At a very tactical level I do wonder about some marketers who insist on 8 point font in their material for products that clearly are targeted at the over 50’s! Is this the result of Gen Y’s marketing to themselves (in error)?

The economic shift from east to west – Being situated in the same time zone and proximity to Asia is clearly a big opportunity and challenge both economically and socially. If not already exposed to this shift the first stage for most organisations, in my view, is to start by gaining greater cultural awareness, not jumping to ‘what can I sell’. Whilst that is the end game, just as in any type of market segmentation, the first phase is to understand the needs and drivers of the segment. Yes it’s a huge opportunity but what segments or groups are you going to be able to best target and why would they value your offer? The road to the east is already littered by failures large and small – more haste, less speed!

Declining biodiversity – Clearly this a broad societal challenge that we all as individuals need to consider. If you would like to know more about how an organisation I am involved with – Greening Australia - is working in practical ways to reverse this trend click here.

Nevertheless there are biodiversity and environmental issues all organisations need to be clear on in terms of their sustainability and footprint, now and into the future. And of course there are niche commercial opportunities to deliver value to organisations that are at the pointy end of having to manage and adjust to this challenge.

Technological connectivity

– The key outcome of increasing technological connectivity, is in my view, the digital disruption to many business models. Deloitte have developed a really useful model (Big Bang, Short Fuse) that classifies many industries on impact and timeframe. Click here to read more.

Digital disruption is the area many businesses ignore when in fact they just need to look back only ten years to see the impact. No longer do ‘rivers of gold’ flow from print media classified advertising. Book retailing is now dominated by online ordering or digital downloads. A good way to think about this is to look at each part of the value chain your business operates in and challenge yourself – how would you respond if it was digitally redesigned. What could you do now to innovate or protect your position? Who are the potential new players that could disrupt your industry – and what would you do about it?

The rising demand for experiences over goods – Clearly this is in part a response to the to the tussle around work – life balance and the desire for greater connectedness – with environment and with loved ones. Great examples include the adventure tourism boom, including historically based walking expeditions, culinary tours and festivals; high end activities such the Sydney Harbor Bridge Climb; and bespoke gift experiences as packaged by Red Balloon.

It is also a wonderful opportunity to clearly differentiate what you do today – how do you add a compelling ‘experience’ to the customer journey? It should have real resonance for retailers – providing a sense of theatre to the shopping experience is pretty limited in Australia but not so much overseas. Burberry’s flagship store in London is an amazing experience designed as a physical manifestation of its website with significant investment in technology, staging and audiovisual wizardry. They don’t want their customer to be ‘bored’ (their words) and orchestrate music and visuals to stimulate and entertain. What could you do to make your store more exciting and engaging? It sure could help put price in its place!

Finally it’s worth remembering Bill Gates’ view on the future…“We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Don't let yourself be lulled into inaction”

by James Atkins, Vantage Strategy & Marketing.
This article is linked to James' Google+ profile

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