Planning For Consumer Disruptions

In the recent article The Cheapest Generation, a paragraph stood out:

It passed out 100 of the cars to influential bloggers for a free six-month test-drive, with just one condition: document your experience online, whether you love the Fiesta or hate it.

Young bloggers loved the car. Young drivers? Not so much. After a brief burst of excitement, in which Ford sold more than 90,000 units over 18 months, Fiesta sales plummeted. As of April 2012, they were down 30 percent from 2011.

when explaining the lengths that GM (and others) have gone to understand why buyer habits have changed:

All of these strategies share a few key assumptions: that demand for cars within the Millennial generation is just waiting to be unlocked; that as the economy slowly recovers, today’s young people will eventually want to buy cars as much as their parents and grandparents did; that a finer-tuned appeal to Millennial values can coax them into dealerships.

Perhaps. But what if these assumptions are simply wrong?

These paragraphs for me resonated at a higher level than usual because  over the last month I have met with executives from several consumer brands and from two of the world’s largest business services firms to discuss this very trend of disruptions as a “hypothetical”.

As in, what happens when consumers look at consumerism differently.  What happens when consumer expectations of firms, and their products, changes towards something that is more sustainable, fair, responsible, etc… and will they always tell you?

To my surprise, in nearly every conversation I got immediate buy in and found myself in an engage that start with “we are already seeing…”

Yet, few of these firms had a strategy.

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