Transitions & Inspiration for 2014

This is the most fascinating time of the year. One day we are reflecting on the year behind us, taking stock of what has been accomplished and enjoying a well-deserved break. And the very next day we are starting from zero. New dreams, new promises and new goals to reach. For the business world, it’s just like the first day of school. The best chance to purge, get organized and most importantly, think and act differently. 

My ‘first day of school’ moment happened back in November while attending the Foresight & Trends event in Los Angeles.

To paraphrase Tony Bosma, Futurist:

Everyone is saying we are in a financial crisis, a healthcare crisis, an educational crisis, etc. We are not. By definition a crisis is a short-term situation that eventually reverts back to normal. But (1) this has gone on way too long and (2) we are not going back. We are in transition, not a crisis.

To some it may seem like semantics but for me it was an epiphany. Deep down most of us knew certain things would never and should never go back to the way they were, but I did not realize that necessary, organic change can feel like a crisis. In some cases it may be about fear of change, and in other cases it may be because we benefited from the old way.

During the rest of the event I made a list of 3 big ‘transitions’ that might not all apply to my business or my clients yet, but could. And even better, they could help me be on the look out for what is coming right behind them.

1. Healthcare Transition

Healthcare is changing from a curative to a preventative philosophy. There has been much debate here in the US on healthcare regarding everything from government mandates on insurance and the legal serving size of a soda to the responsibility of individuals to be more health aware and take ownership of their health. There is a new sense of empowerment as we navigate this territory. And the result is tremendous product and service innovation, commonly referred to as the ‘consumerization’ of healthcare.

You may have heard of the Nike Fuel band or FitBit, but this niche will go beyond fitness moving forward. Predictions are that this industry will grow from $10 billion in 2013 to $30 billion is 2018. Here are just two other brands/products to check out that take it from fitness tools to wellness tools for all ages: Scanadu and Teddy The Guardian.

To somewhat ‘prove’ a trend to myself, I always look for another example not mentioned by any of the presenters at an event. The one I found to further support this trend is 23andme.

For $99.00 this company will send you a kit that captures your saliva and analyzes it for various genetic and possible ancestral information.

There is actually a lot of FDA controversy in the US about this company now so to remain impartial, I’ll let you read for yourselves the recent piece on CEO and founder Anne Wojcicki in Fast Company.

2. Big Corporation Transition

The Fortune 100 are finding that they need to embrace what challenger brands have used for years to create deep and meaningful preference in the marketplace. That being that giving back is integral to the everyday brand promise vs. a single, end of fiscal year philanthropic donation.

As of today, there are 910 B Corporations in 29 countries.

These are designed for for-profit entities that want to consider society and the environment in addition to profit in their decision making process.

Tom LaForge, Director of Human & Cultural Insights for Coca-Cola shed the most light on this for me. According to the Havas, meaningful brand index, 73% of brands could disappear and no one would care.

As quality, safety, service, innovation, design, etc. all have become attainable goals for almost every brand in a given category, the only remaining choice for consumers often becomes about whether or not a company openly contributes to well-being and overtly communicates that. Competing on emotional and functional attributes is simply not enough anymore.

Additional evidence for this movement that recently aired is the Mazda “Drive for Good” campaign featuring St. Jude Hospital.

3. Consumption Transition

If you haven’t heard, renting is the new owning. Also called ‘collaborative consumption.’

 “Status is what you are smart enough not to own” as Tony Bosma put it.

A few examples:

• 40% of French people do not want to own a car

• Airbnb now rents as many rooms as Hilton

• You can rent expensive designer jeans

And another example that I discovered after the conference just a few weeks ago is for renting live Christmas trees that can be replanted when you are done with them.

So there you have my big 3 for 2104. Best wishes for a meaningful and successful year ahead.

About the Author

Renée Whitworth is a strategic partner at Flood Creative in New York. Over the last 15 years she has developed a reputation for providing unique insights that help every facet of design come together with a singular, shared focus.