The Age of the Consumer

The Challenge of Doing Business in the Age of the Consumer

We are currently experiencing one of the most profound periods of disruption and change in the history of business.

Today, more people own a smartphone than own a toothbrush.

In Europe, two-thirds of population now live in towns and cities; more than half are over 50 years old and they control upwards of 70% of total wealth.

The way people shop, where they shop and what they expect from a shopping experience is also changing daily.

The average shopping trip now lasts less than 20 minutes. In the last decade we have seen the frequency of shopping increase from once or twice a week to 24 times every month. In that same period the number of shopping channels people use has doubled.

This is the age of the consumer.

The 1970s & 1980s marked the age of the supplier - manufacturers could tell retailers how much product they could order.

The 1990s & 2000s saw the rise of the retailer. Trade spending and promotion investment exploded and suppliers battled to secure a presence in store.

Today though, consumers hold the power.

They can research and buy anything, anytime, anywhere.

And that means they are more value conscious and demanding than ever before, empowered by the technology at their fingertips.

They are attracted to new, simpler shopping solutions and expect a seamless, friction free experience at every stage.

During this period of rapid change we have seen established, once dominant institutions fail and disappear. New players are entering markets with new business models and are gaining share at an astonishing rate.

The reality today is that old and traditional models for business will no longer win. With this disruption, businesses must react, adapt, and transform to survive and thrive - those that fail to do so will soon become extinct.

In today’s world, fast beats slow and courageous beats conservative. History, longevity and reputation stand for nothing if you are unwilling or unable to meet the needs of today's society. Only those who can be fastest to move and quickest to change will survive and thrive.

This urgent and compelling case for transformation demands a new model of leadership, both at the top of, and throughout our organisations.

Leaders cannot cling to old ways; preserving the status quo is no longer good enough.

Successful leaders must be willing to transform and reinvent themselves along with their businesses. They will have to have the courage to embrace both change and the new hierarchy with the consumer at the top.

They must also recognise the need to invest in their organisations and the future leaders of their businesses. The best and brightest talent need to prepare themselves for greater responsibility and leadership in this dynamic world.

The toughest test of any business leader is the calibre of the people who succeed them. There is no work more rewarding, nor a legacy more important than what we do to support, guide and inspire the next generation of leaders in our businesses. In doing so, we set them up for success in a world which will be more challenging than any of us have faced before.