11 July 2018 | By John Zeally Community

Staying relevant to stay ahead

Accenture’s John Zeally offers four steps to becoming a “living business” - to win the battle for growth

The days of having a consistent loyal customer base are fading fast. Today consumers are in control. They are enjoying increased levels of convenience, simplicity and knowledge and, as a result, they are more impatient, demanding and informed than ever before.

In the consumer goods industry, digitally-born, disruptive competitors are taking more than their fair share of market value by making themselves relevant through continuously reinventing relationships and redefining customer experiences. And while some of incumbents have made steps to adjust to changing consumer tastes and preferences – often acquiring competitors to access new consumers, markets, insights, technology and even credibility – the speed and agility required to do so successfully isn’t there yet.

This pattern appears to be indicative of many other industries.

New research from Accenture highlights just how out of sync many UK businesses are with their consumers today. As more choice is offered by nimble new market entrants, more than half of UK consumers are switching to providers that better meet their needs. At least a quarter admit that once gone, they will never go back.

With disruption rife across all industries, long standing UK businesses risk losing more than £100bn in revenue if they fail to create relevance and appeal.

The power of the consumer

Consumer influence has never been stronger. The rise of craft ale, gluten-free, non-GMO, local, organic and natural products, are testament to the growth that is possible when companies intuitively understand changing consumer behaviors and sentiment, and think differently about the consumer proposition.

UK businesses must keep pace by developing products and services with the consumer continuously front-of-mind.

Smaller, more nimble players live and breathe data and analytics. They continuously use consumer insights to inform rapid innovation and how they target consumers – through social media, digital devices and immersive experiences. It’s a perpetual cycle because consumers – their individual wants, needs and context – aren’t static.

Becoming a ‘living business’ – a company that relentlessly focuses on anticipating and responding to fast-changing consumer needs – is now critical. To succeed, it needs the following:

  1. Intelligent experiences: delivered through a dynamic understanding of each consumer.
  1. Responsive innovations: by ensuring your company’s infrastructure and culture are primed to embrace new ideas, behaviours and technologies to respond to evolving opportunities and consumer needs.
  1. Agile operating models: by acting as a living organism to break down internal siloes and deploy the latest technologies to advance performance.
  1. Guided by purpose: by embracing a set of behaviours, beliefs and values that align the organisation and shapes the experience of interacting with their consumers.

Nestlé is an example of a company that is rethinking the way it operates. It recently announced plans to merge its scientific research operations into a single unit to speed up the development of new products and get them out to market quicker in order to better compete with smaller rivals.

Relevancy is where the battle for growth can be lost or won. The winners will be those that continuously offer consumers timely, relevant products, services and experiences, catering to their unique tastes. Failure to do will pose significant risk to future revenues and market share.

Join the discussion