Facts are this: at no other time in the history of modern marketing and business strategy have we seen such a pervasive shift – up. To be sure the Walmarts of the world continue and Dollar Stores are everywhere, but it can be said we are witnessing a call for quality, for real, for authenticity and improved experience that is steamrolling through the consuming marketplace with the speed of the latest viral video.
For decades the consumer paradigm was based on familiarity, scale, predictability, ubiquity and quality framed in the context of consistency. This model favored larger, uniform organizations and supply chain ecosystems that fed the machinery of reliable sameness. It truly was the birth of the ‘factory food’ model.
Today – enter craft foods, cold pressed beverages, organic everything, smaller scale artisanal offerings gaining traction in virtually every category. What’s the future look like?
Go up. Simplify. Unbundle. Work backwards to the source of ingredients, of talent and expertise. Bespoke is no longer the province of Savile Row – it is the watchword of successful strategy in the years ahead as customization takes root.
Apple may be big but its products have a bespoke quality to them, don’t they?
- Smaller is better.
- Serving a unique cohort is smarter than all things to all people.
- Packaging and presentation matter as much as technology.
- Authenticity is of supreme importance – sub-par, fake options are not alluring even at lower price.
Quality requires a better brand story – one that is based on a higher purpose and company vision – a meaning that transcends transactions. This is the price of entry to any real relationship in the era of consumer control in the marketplace.
So we are now witnessing a new balance-sheet devotion to investing, and playing on a higher margin front that is a bit less about aircraft carrier sized volume and more about the quality of engagement and interaction. Harry’s shaving products has a following. Sure, it’s an everyday low-tech product, the razor, but Harry’s conversation, product presentation and operating philosophy feels more craft-like and human.
I can’t think of a time more exciting for ideas to blossom than this because the world wants special. Are you in the special business yet?
The challenge: how to navigate the new conditions for quality.
Bob Wheatley is the CEO of Chicago-based Emergent Healthy Living. Emergent provides integrated brand strategy, communications and insight solutions to national food, beverage, home and lifestyle companies. Emergent’s unique and proprietary transformation and growth focus helps organizations navigate, engage and leverage consumers’ desire for higher quality, healthier product or service experiences that mirror their desire for higher quality lifestyles. For more information, contact Bob@Emergent-Comm.com and follow on Twitter @BobWheatley.