Tag: technology

Where we do business, who we do business with, and how we work are all changing. The rise of the gig or sharing economy – and the burgeoning success of apps like Uber and Airbnb – is creating a new breed of workers.

In this new economy middle man roles are eliminated or diminished, and people have no set hours or ongoing commitments.

Contractor life might sound great, but there is a degree of uncertainty that comes with not knowing how much you’ll make week to week.

Despite some of the obvious downsides – like no employee benefits – it’s estimated that some 150 million workers in North America and Europe are working as independent contractors – and the success of tech service platforms like Uber are at least partly credited with this transition.

But what challenges and opportunities does the gig economy present for leaders? Here are four key areas I’ve identified that need attention.

Staff Retention
As many of the best and brightest shift to working for themselves, staff retention will be a big challenge for companies. Team continuity is highly desirable, but a report by McKinsey recently found that “knowledge-intensive industries and creative occupations are the largest and fastest-growing segments of the freelance economy”. One potential solution? Adopting a startup mentality, often characterised by a culture of idea sharing. Creating a mission-driven culture where there is room for innovation and experimentation will help to keep your team engaged – and benefit your business.

Embrace Technology for Good
Technology – and especially mobile technology – is a major element of this new ‘gig’ economy, but leaders should be discerning about how, why and when a business will use technology. The end goal should not be digital disruption, but the enhancement of the end-to-end customer experience. The imperative to use technology to improve efficiencies should be balanced against the need for quality human connections. Leaders will need to reflect on the end-to-end consumer experience to a greater extent and ensure a client-centric model underpins all interactions. Ask: What opportunities do we offer for personal connection with our consumer? Stakeholder feedback will be critical too.

Innovation Isn’t Just an App
New technologies are an important aspect of modern workplaces, but they’re only part of the story. While uberisation – defined as “a different way of buying or using [a service], especially using mobile technology” – has its place, it isn’t relevant to all people and all businesses who want to use a service. Leaders must keep their target consumers’ needs front of mind, and can also consider some of the other ways to innovate as a business. Co-creation, waste minimisation and partnerships are some of the ways companies can implement innovative practices into their business. You can also check out this article I wrote recently about nine innovative consumer trends.

Accept the Pace
The pace of change is perhaps one of the biggest challenges for businesses across the board. In 2019 artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR), apps, drones, and advanced robotics have all become mainstream tech vernacular. Allocating and respecting the time and resources needed to think creatively as a business is essential. Leaders must accept that continuous innovation in business is no longer a choice. And continual review and assessment will be vital to getting it right.

As consumers, the gig economy means more choice and greater convenience than ever before. But, more than ever, businesses and leaders must ensure that you bring your team and customers along for the ride. This means balancing the need for fast-paced innovation against cultural considerations, and constantly assessing our end-to-end experience from both a technological and human experience perspective.­

Increased competition, diminishing consumer trust, and fast-moving tech innovation… There’s no doubt it’s a competitive moment to be in business.

But with every challenge comes opportunity, and in this case, to the changemakers come the spoils. In other words, if your business is investing in innovation and forward-planning, there’s no reason it can’t be successful, whether you’re in hospitality, brick and mortar retail, or professional services.

The Kiikstart team have rounded up nine key consumer trends that we think will be big in 2019.

Personalised & client-centred
For your business to succeed, more than ever you must be client-centred in everything that you do. The days of a one size fits all approach to customer service are long gone, as savvy customers seek out brands that are willing to go the extra mile. Personalisation is one example of this. Nowadays everything from your Nutella jar to your handbag can be personalised, and Australian brands such as The Daily Edited have capitalised on this trend. Consumer trends sight TrendWatching say “mass hyper-personalisation is just around the corner”. They cite examples such as Albertson’s & Genomind recently introducing custom genetic testing by pharmacists in-store to assist with more tailored medication recommendations.

Be inclusive
While premium brands have long-focused on exclusivity, now brands that create a sense of inclusivity will benefit. While quality of end-to-end offerings is essential, customers still want a brand to feel accessible. Marketing strategist Sonia Thompson says exclusion marketing – “..when companies serve the masses, without making accommodations for anyone who may have different needs” has consequences for business.

So whether it’s providing for a range of dietary requirements on a restaurant menu, or celebrating cultural diversity through an advertising campaign, inclusivity presents opportunities for your business. Examples include Rihanna’s makeup line Fenty Beauty, which launched with 40 shades of foundation to accommodate women of all colours, and Nike’s Pro Hijab line of performance sportswear for Muslim women athletes.

All about the experience
The shift to a focus on experiences rather than physical goods in part reflects the views of millennials. A Harris Poll study found that 78 per cent prefer to spend money on events and experiences rather than objects. Social media is in-part credited with this shift. TechCrunch describes how “You can only snap an item once, but a worthy lifestyle encapsulates hundreds of shareable moments”. Brands that create Instagram-worthy experiences will reap the rewards.

But creating a memorable experience extends beyond the physical, to what you can smell, hear, touch and taste. Even for brands that are selling physical goods, there are opportunities to create a memorable and different experience on the shop floor – check out my recent post on future-proofing your retail space for more tips.

Encouraging interaction
One important element of your experience is interaction and immersion with products. Whether you’re a brick and mortar business providing education opportunities about your products, or a brand like Jacob’s Creek who are inviting their customers to make their own blend of wine on-site, discerning consumers want to interact with the brands they support.

Less salesy
One element of this more experiential approach to engaging with consumers is a less sales-focused attitude on the part of business. In 2019, businesses need to create an environment that is based on exploration and discovery, rather than a quick sale. Caroma’s Norwood showroom is one example of this. The interactive space provides clients with an opportunity to engage with their products and interior designers to generate ideas and interact with products. There is no option to buy on-site, so the sales element is eliminated. Customers are instead provided with a helpful introduction to the brand, a swag of ideas, and the details of retailers who can sell them the products at a later date.

Multi-purpose venues
While brands can’t be everything to everyone, one tourism and hospitality shift is the trend towards multi-purpose spaces. Brick and mortar venues that offer food and beverages as well as products for sale are well-placed for success as long as they remain consumer-centric. New Adelaide Hills venue Lot 100 brings together four local companies, creating a “mega booze destination” according to Grace Schneider. The cellar door, distillery and brewery are all on-site, as well as a restaurant that can cater weddings. The venue also offers masterclasses in brewing, distilling and cider making, bringing an interactive and educational element. Increasingly, venues must offer a range of options to consumers, but at the same time they must remain authentic to the people, the region and its history.

Utilising technology
This one might sound obvious, but businesses that embrace technology – and employ it in a focused, customer-centric way – will benefit. UK fashion retailer ASOS’ decision to use augmented reality (AR) to create an app that lets customers see how an outfit will look on a range of body types is one practical example of this that keeps the customer front of mind. Convenience and interaction are key.

All hail the start-up
Remember that consumers love discovering new and boutique brands. After all, everyone wants to be seen as a leader rather than a follower! Whether you own a restaurant or a large department store, complacency is a killer. Product must remain fresh and contemporary, and supporting start-ups and smaller brands makes good business sense. KaDeTe took this theory to the next level recently when they opened the world’s first ‘startup supermarket’, bringing together recently launched food and beverage brands. (Such a cool concept!).

Responsible business
As consumers become more aware of sustainability issues, there is an expectation that businesses will reduce their waste wherever possible. It simply isn’t in a company’s long-term interest not to be socially and environmentally responsible. Whether it’s a business decision to do away with plastic straws, or a luxury label’s decision to finally go fur-free (Burberry did so this year), companies will be rewarded for responsible decision-making.

So there you have it – our round-up of the consumer brands your business should take to stay competitive and keep kicking goals in 2019 and beyond.

Need support with your company’s innovation strategy? Get in touch today at enquiries@kiikstart.com to find out how we can work together.