Leading with Clarity In An Age Of Disruption

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Today’s world is defined by change.

Social, political and technological upheavals have dramatically reshaped the consumer landscape in which we live. Amidst these changes, new challenger brands have emerged, throwing heritage industries into disarray.

In a time when disruption has become so rapid, frequent and all-consuming, there’s never been a more pressing need for business leaders to navigate change and create healthier brands with brighter futures.

The solution isn’t always prosaic. In fact, our modern narrative is one defined by complexity, with shifting consumer behaviours and expectations forcing brands to reconsider their strategy and communications.

But while change runs rampant, opportunity awaits. By leading with clarity in an age of disruption, brands can make smart, clear and informed decisions that drive game changing performance and results.

Moreover, they can outline a clear path and activate around this by bringing strategy to life through creative engagement.

Trends Driving Disruption

Through an in-depth understanding of behaviour, technology and trends, brands can use insight as the basis of action.

When you can anticipate – even predict – consumer behaviours before they happen, then you can apply these learnings to your own competitive environment.

First, brands need to understand the positioning of their organisation versus the competition. By making use of data and a combination of primary and secondary sources, you can generate an objective assessment and gain clarification on next steps.

Typically, we see this come to life through industry research, trade research, company data, employee surveys, customer panels and of course competitor research. When these trends are accounted for, they can be put to use by understanding what this means within your new competitive environment.

Technology’s Role in Shifting Behaviours

Tech disruptors have re-written the rules of speed and user experience. With the success of brands like Deliveroo and Amazon, customers have come to expect seamless experiences and reliable service.

Alongside speed, customers now want brands to engage in a two-way dialogue, which opens up the space for shared conversations. Social media has, in a sense, democratised our society, shifting power from producer to consumer. This means communication, delivered in a timely and efficient manner, is now more important than ever.

In established industries like the automotive sector, advancements in technology have shaken the industry to its core. By 2040, the UK has announced that it will ban the sale of all new diesel and petrol cars. With the rise of electric cars and driverless vehicles, everyone from manufacturers to insurers needs to re-think how their business should operate.

But while direct conversations between brands and consumers are on the rise, traditional power roles have been displaced, meaning consumers now turn to each other for recommendations, reviews and advice. The rise of social influencers and peer-to-peer review websites has laid this truth bare, as brands are no longer the only source of information.

And with new ethical and moral values leading all of this decision-making, it’s essential that brands start by understanding the trends that are driving disruption and apply these learnings to their marketing strategies.  

Leading With Clarity

To lead with clarity, brands must become hyper-focused on customer-centricity. Simply put, this means organisational culture must be focused on customer needs beyond just their own products or services. It needs to account for shifting behaviours, expectations and technologies.

Consider traditional hospitality brands like Jamie’s Italian or Prezzo. These businesses are being quickly superseded by the market and changing customer demand, which means they’re highly susceptible to (or already have been) highly disrupted.

On the opposite side of the spectrum you have new tech challengers like Deliveroo, who don’t even produce food of their own, yet have threatened heritage brands, simply by using technology as a service.

By tapping into this new ethos of speed, customer service and seamless delivery, brands like Deliveroo have been highly successful in disrupting the marketplace. This doesn’t mean there isn’t space for traditional hospitality brands like Jamie’s Italian or Prezzo. Far from it. But in order to evolve, these brands need to bridge the experience gap, get closer to their customers and become more agile.

By increasing speed to market, these brands can attempt to right the ship.

Tackle Disruption Head On

When disruption is tackled head on, brands can revamp performance and reposition aging strategies. Take McDonalds, for example.

In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, a string of growing trends – from changing consumer taste to health fears to a new breed of competition – left profits reeling and growth in a difficult place. By tackling disruption head on, McDonalds increased its healthy eating options and completely revised its menu and partnerships.

Tapping into emerging values like sustainability, McDonalds instituted a CSR programme and revisited the core beliefs of its brand. Fast-forward to 2019, and McDonalds are flying. As the world’s number one fast food chain with top figures across sales, number of sites and brand recall, it’s clear to see how tackling disruption head on can pay substantial dividends. 

When insight is used as the basis of understanding market dynamics, brands can activate a communications plan that brings strategy to life through creative engagement. While industries the world over are in a state of flux, new consumer expectations can be used to your advantage.

The key is to recognise this and take action – before it’s too late.

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