Planning for the Future
by Bonnie Janzen
We are taught to plan, to anticipate, to read reality.We are taught to make adjustments in our plans, and to continually do this as we prepare for the future. We do this every day in business.
Many of us who are old enough to remember the cartoon The Jetsons can recall that they were living a life without traffic; while commuting in their flying cars. Where’s my flying car? Where’s my jetpack? Where’s my Rosie, the robot that cleans everything in my home and takes care of my kids? We have advanced, sure! But the iRobot cannot clean everything in my house! And certainly cannot take care of my kids!
So how do we read the current state of reality? How do we plan and then make adjustments along the way? What do you do when the future that you had hoped for didn’t quite materialize as you expected? Or didn’t happen as quickly as you planned for?
- In business, we are planning to succeed today and a year from now! We are planning to succeed 5 and 10 years from now! It’s important to think about the brands, the product categories, the markets and the business units that will be successful in the future. It’s just as important to think about the organization, the structure, the teams and the leaders that will required to be successful in the future!
- How can we build or design a product or service or develop a communications plan that will adapt/evolve with your consumers and your markets as they change in the future? How can you make adjustments to modify as the competition changes? Of course, there will be monitoring of the larger economic trends, consumer trends and including trends in tastes, fashions, technology, culture, etc.
- We also have to think about competition in a very broad sense. It is not only your direct competition that has impact on your consumers. For example, if you are in the health and beauty category, what does globalization mean to you? How does global diversity affect your color palettes, the models you use in communications, and the cultures that are represented? How have trends in eco-friendly packaging affected your products? How have organic trends affected your ingredients and labels?
- What do your consumers expect in terms of technological customer experience from your brand? How does your website, community message board, etc., affect your customer experience? If a few customers have a bad experience and broadcast it on your community message board or social media, how will that affect other customers?
- When your customer experiences a great meal or a great retail experience, how does that impact their expectations of your health and beauty brand? How can your brand be more memorable?
- How can you optimize your best assets, resources, and employees to maximize brand share and profit margin now and in the future? Can those assets and resources be expanded into different product lines, markets, and/or industries? How can you look to combine strategic planning disciplines, consumer insights, research and development, business analytics, and other functions together to give your business the best opportunities for success now and in the future?
- Look beyond big data that is currently housed in different silos in your organization, and look beyond the syndicated data that may be available. Primary research or consumer insights can be combined with big data and syndicated data, and perhaps even government data, to get a bigger picture of the market and the consumer. It can forecast trends and expose unmet needs in the market.
We work with our clients to think through how to future-proof the possible scenarios as we build options for consideration, which might include:
- New product and service ideas based on innovation work using your own internal teams, as well as our Imaginators® community, which is comprised of everyday people who are creative and trained to come up with new breakthrough ideas.
- An optimized product line with optimal pricing and the optimal number of products in the product line.
- Insightful segmentation research that targets the ideal consumers for the product line.
- An optimized communication strategy that will support your product line.
- Copy testing to ensure quality advertising, which is delivering the key messages to the target audience.
- An optimized customer experience to engage your customers in meaningful ways as they shop for the new products and services.
- Forecasting sales of the first year and subsequent years for your new product lines based on the amount and type of media support.
Although business strategy is not quite as much fun as watching The Jetsons, we certainly love the challenge of pulling all the resources and disciplines together to give our clients the best of all the methods and techniques available. There are pros and cons to every approach, and we work with our clients to customize design optimized solutions based on our clients business needs. Those approaches are based on the past work they have done, taking into account all the data available to a business internally, as well as government data, syndicated data, geographical data, and primary research. The goal is to give our clients the best understanding of the market today and where consumers’ needs are heading in the future.
About the Author
Bonnie Janzen (firstname.lastname@example.org) is an Executive Vice President at Decision Analyst. You may contact her at either 1-800-262-5974 or 1-817-640-6166.
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