It is becoming almost a new fad in the market to see people making choices based on well-being, and health and taking the form of an altruist rather than just a consumer driven by price. Many leading firms including The Body Shop, Starbucks and Toyota along with organizations such as PETA have already taped into this market as the demand for ethical, sustainable and local rootedness continue to become important buying factors for consumers.
A huge market that has able to develop and flourish in this altruist environment is the market for organic products. Although organic products and services are in comparison more expensive to conventional products, this market has seen substantial growth in recent years. There are three major factors that enable small organic farms to stay competitive in the industry: a rising consumer demand for organic produce, a huge increase in farmers’ markets nationwide, and the growing popularity of community-supported agriculture.
A health conscious consumer is one type of persona but looking at the idea of an altruist consumer helps businesses build good will within their company. Cotton On is an example of a retail business that has developed goodwill by creating a foundation to help support children in poor communities. In every transaction they ask the customer if they would like to purchase a charity bag or bracelet to help support this foundation . This is another example of how people are motivated to purchase on the basis of doing something beneficial for the wider community and where price plays little relevance.
— Warren Bennis, http://www.leadershipnow.com/
The spatial design of the store creates a sensorial experience for customers and makes it an engaging and memorable shopping event.
Professor Philip Zimbardo displays through an interactive lecture, how individual perspectives of time affect an individuals view on work, health, well-being and overall lifestyle. As time changes and we progress into the future, our mentality and the way we perceive the world continues to change. How does a business catch up with the ever changing demands and needs of its consumers? Understanding changing trends and consumer behaviour is key when addressing new ways to innovate.
In today’s lecture John Schweitzer emphasized the importance of innovation for contemporary businesses and organizations so that they remain competitive and can continue to increase growth, productivity and economic wealth. However it is increasingly getting difficult to innovate as society is now heavily globalized and entering into a networked world where goods and services are becoming highly commoditized and customer needs and expectations are a lot higher and constantly increasing. Businesses must now focus their attention on innovating thinking and progresses in relation to the experience they offer to its consumers in order to find a competitive edge/advantage in the now entering ‘experience economy’. As Joseph Pine II and James Gilmor explain “An experience occurs when a company uses services as the stage–and goods as props–for engaging individuals in a way that creates a memorable event.”
If you think about it, using the retail industry as an example, many stores now find it an equally important priority to offer good customer service and a unique shopping experience to customers as well as simply just selling goods or providing services. Peter Alexander is an example of a successful business staging an experience to create value for the customer. There are many retail stores that sell the same product line as Peter Alexander (sleepwear, lounge wear, day wear) but the designer and now Creative Director of the business, Peter Alexander, was able to take an ordinary product and create an experience for the customer by evoking the senses through the interior/spatial design of the stores, music and fragrance, package design, the uniforms of the employees. All these elements are able to create a fun sort of fantasy for the customer and this is much more appealing than the average department store that offers good products and customer service but leaves no lasting memory and impact to the person.
But then this leads unto another issue where all the leading edge companies are know realizing the benefits and entering into the experience economy, how much longer will it be until an experience also becomes a commodity? A video that I recently viewed called ‘The Secret Powers of Time’ explains how future generations are becoming increasingly relatable to the digital world and less interested in the analogue. This paints a possible future scenario of businesses utilizing the advancements of digital technology e.g. creating interactive online stores where people create their own experiences by building a 3D world around them that they desire.
 Pine, J. & Gilmore, J. 1998, ‘Welcome to the Experience Economy’, Harvard Business Review, Vol. 76 (July-Aug), No.4, pp. 97-105
This first lesson is focused on businesses and how radical innovation is a key element to survive and thrive in the current and also future markets. Many leading organizations have realized the potential of the changing markets and also the emergent of new markets and therefore have capitalized the benefits of innovative thinking and concepts of designing for the future.
IDEO is a good example of combining innovative design thinking with organizations so that they can remain competitive and continue to grow. “We help organizations build creative culture and the internal systems required to sustain innovation and launch new ventures”. IDEO has recognized that the users or the consumers are at the heart of this process; they are the end users and therefore have the best knowledge of their needs and wants. In the contemporary business environment human centered design seems to be becoming more and more prevalent and moving further away from traditional views of who constitutes as a designer, or in a business context, who calls the shots as to which services and products the consumer needs. As Charles Leadbeater discusses, it is difficult to find big ideas in mainstream markets in large organizations and that the ideas are actually coming from consumers who are often ahead of the producers. He uses the mountain bike as an example to highlight this notion where a group of young users developed a new product because they had a vision, the motivation and incentive to innovate an existing commodity. Everyone has the ability to be innovative, but in the business environment, incremental innovation or small changes do not really have a massive impact on the business or the market. It is radical developments that businesses should be aiming to employ if they want to see a change in the market and this is where entrepreneurs step into the scenario.
Entrepreneurs are thinking big ideas, meaningful ones that not only change the market but also have the potential to create new ones and change the world through lifestyle, well being, education and dealing with deeper issues such as poverty and scarcity surrounding limited resources such as oil and water etc. Guy Kawasaki talks about changing the world by creating meaning and you can do this through increasing the quality of life, making people more creative, righting a wrong or preventing the end of something good.
An example I have researched and find interesting is the creation and continual growth of Facebook. At Facebook’s f8 Conference in September, founder Mark Zuckerberg revealed that half-a-billion people had accessed the service in a single day. But is Facebook innovative? It certainly was not the first social network. Before it, there was Myspace, Friendster and Bebo. So Facebook is not an original idea was still able to overtake all its competitors and become the giant in the market? It is very interesting to note that execution and timing played a major factor in the startup of Facebook. The world was ready for a global social network, but he (Mark Zuckerberg) had to ease them in gently. And the key point to innovation is that Facebook is continually changing and evolving with new ways of interacting and communicating, the most recent being the introduction of ‘timeline’.