The Ripple Effect has begun

There’s a large shift happening with the consumer.
Sneaking. Sleeping. It grows slowly in their subconscious.

The first already shout it out at the top of their lungs. On social media. They are no longer satisfied. They are looking for an additional value. For better solutions. For the human side of the company. The last especially in combination with their awareness concerning their own purchasing power including the profit greed of companies.

Even though the consumer was spoiled in the past decades, they still demanded more. The majority wants luxury for a better price, without walking the extra mile. However, a change is on the horizon. The first ripple already started.

It is a group, early majority, critically and consciously, that dares to question their luxury. One does cost cutting (especially with families). The other searches an explanation for his or her purchase greed. Numerous tactics, grounded by a reason, where a certain – necessary or unnecessary – need lies at the base.

That big TV, do we really need it? That large internet subscription, do we need it? That expensive car to drive around the church, do we really need it? How do companies see us? How do they influence us? What do they expect of us? Do they answer our needs? Or do they fool us?

The first ripple is the one that will start the second that will have an even bigger impact on the economical landscape that we currently know. The first ripple drives a mentality change; the second ripple will shake and change our society and economy thoroughly.

This first fallen drip will influence three large groups, wherein every group will make an impact on the ripple effect.

The consumer

That life’s becoming more expensive is total bull crap. There is a pleasant but hard balance that can be found between income, expenses and needs. It is manageable. Something that consumers are becoming more aware of and use this in their purchase power to, amongst other things, finding the balance between necessity and happiness.

Next to the allocation of budget in function of needs, the demand for answering to purchase is also rising. Also for the company behind the product, their vision, their values and even a view in the numbers. What happens with that phenomenal profit that is made? Do I, as a consumer, want to be a part of this and support this?

The Ripple Effect: the (late) majority follows in the coming years where they will also doubt about their purchases and the companies that sell them. They long for answers and solutions that will solve their real problems.

The companies/retailers

Companies will be obligated to invest in durability. This does not only mean cut expenses and fine tuning the internal processes, … Also the choice in offering products will have to become smaller or more directed. Bulk and push methods will no longer work.
A shift will have to happen in a very short time, which companies will have to take into account.

The “Why” purchasing of a product is questioned more lately, which causes the storytelling not to be sufficient in medium-long term. The tricky part is that it mainly concerns two large matters: the offer and the expected offer by the client.

The consumer was spoiled for years with a large offer, too much choice, which causes the making of a decision to be that much harder. Companies, retailers especially, will have to dare to ask the following questions:

Do we have to provide such a large offer? Do we have to offer so many other things, that aren’t at our core, to cover expenses? Do we have to make so much profit? And does this need to happen in this absurd manner, for example by purchasing so much stock?

Especially retailers will encounter a nuanced battle, with the client. Also with themselves and their values. Selling is what really matters. Cross-selling with the focus on new business is bogus.

It is a mindset. Reachable, but daring.

A beautiful addition can be provided digitally to support this vision. The digital channel is no solution for everything. Only a channel that can offer a good support in a larger whole, where the cost structure has many advantages long term. However… The strategy needs to be covered. Cross-channel. The investment future directed. With the eye on the client’s needs. Not what the company wishes to sell!

The challenge? Dare to give and receive trust. Trust in agencies that are willing to go for it. Getting trust with this new channel and learning to discover, with nuanced and realistic expectations. Many companies still see it too much as a substitute of offline digitally. It enriches your offline impact in many underested ways.

The Ripple Effect: non-luxury products will also be questioned in the coming years, even more than before. Sustainability will be more important than needs with the coupled blind purchasing power of the consumer. Companies will be forced to adjust their product range, to decrease it or expand it in unusual cases, where they need to find the balance between the realistic demand and offer. Sell only what is needed but do it better!

The agencies

That the digital world has a large influence was easily noticed from the amount of take-overs in the past two years. Further investment in online channels with the eye on support to offline will become one of the biggest challenges for agencies and their partners, also their clients.

Companies do not only long for a strategic partner who knows what they are doing. They mainly search for solutions within their story. Much further than most agencies are offering now. Companies want that agencies become a part of them. Thinking together, cooperating with their departments and treating the bigger picture, until even a first light form of business development, if permitted.

The Ripple Effect: An executing function has become normality, even though thinking with the client will surpass this in a wide context, for small as well as large clients. A purely executing role is no longer an option.

The customer will also find this somewhere else, for a better price, even within the home. The additional value is within the mutual thinking and progressive acting: exploring the client’s market, analysing and hereby creating an additional value in a very concrete form. Revenue with a covering strategic frame.

This is an article written for the Belgian trend report 2014.
You can find the original published article here.