Increasingly, Americans desire to be entertained, fulfilled, and transformed, and they want to share these experiences with their friends.
Americans are stressed-out, staying obese, and becoming more self-focused and unhealthy. They are often distrusting critics, especially younger anti-institutional generations who have been influenced by scandals in hierarchies, and this makes them increasingly informal. As consumers, they are demanding and difficult to please. They trade their money and options for what they want, when they want, and how they want. Increasingly, they desire to be entertained and fulfilled, and they want to share experiences with friends. In 2014, American consumers desire hyper-personal products, services, experiences, shared experiences and transformations.
Stressed & Unhealthy
Americans are stressed and unhealthy. Professionals’ work hours are rising, more energy drinks are being sold, and America keeps getting fatter. The Associated Journal of Preventative Medicine projects that American obesity and severe obesity rates are projected to rise from around 31% and 5% to 42% and 11% by 2030. They also project increased rates of diabetes.[i] People, especially Americans, are more self-focused than ever. Whereas previous generations only saw themselves in mirrors, the self-shot, picture happy, YouTube era has dramatically increased the amount that people see and think about themselves. The difference may seem small, but it’s not. Gen Y has seen thousands of images and videos of themselves. Couple that with the prevalence of pornography, provocative pop culture, beauty infomercials, and we end up with the runaway train culture of self-focused America. Body modifications, tanning, cosmetic surgeries and product sales are rising, as individuals become more aware and dissatisfied with their conditions.[ii] Americans are become more stressed out and unhealthy.
Informality & Anti-Institution
The pre-1960’s America is gone. An American free-market economy, democracy, and ideals for self liberties and equality have further disintegrated hierarchical structures, and America’s most powerful CEO’s are universally known as just Bill, Steve, Arianna, etc. Billionaires dress in jeans and untucked shirts, and cable news anchors are as much comedians as they are newscasters. Uniforms are for the lower status workers of society, and freedom of dress at work is a sign of privilege. Insights into the Roman Catholic Church have revealed that their own hierarchy covered up scandals. Similar scandals across hierarchies in business and government have elicited responses from groups like Wiki Leaks and consumers have encouraged corporate transparency. Gen Y is the most affected and anti-institutional group the world has seen. Even the Christian church-goers have encouraged movements like the emerging church, and those in dating relationships often prefer cohabitation to marriage. [iii]
Consumers are growing increasingly demanding. Why? Because they can – in this flat world, they have lots of options. This is breeding a non-commitment culture, where companies need data scientists who can keep up with shifting expectations and interests.[iv] With their newly gained power, consumers want what they want, how they want it, when they want it, and they want to know about it.[v] Consumers want to purchase personalized products, and they even want to participate in value creation.[vi] More and more want to know where something is from and how it is made. Documentaries on big farms, big companies, and big media have spawned distrust, and more are being asked to reveal the story of their product before it’s purchased – whether it’s how Chinese factory workers are being treated, the types of fertilizers used on vegetables grown in Iowa, or the quality of life of poultry before it becomes Thanksgiving dinner. Lastly, in what JW Intelligence calls the “Urgency Economy,” consumers want it….. NOW, because they’re in a hurry and used to limited-time deals.[vii]
Consumers want personal devices and services, and they are receiving them. America’s becoming more mobile reliant, with 45% of adults using smart phones, and 20% of Americans owning tablets. Workplace flexibility is increasing, with employees working from online and owning some control over their schedules. [viii] Education of all types can be purchased online or in a box, and for those without education budgets, they have access to the world’s best content and courses, from outlets like YouTube, Khan Academy, and even MIT and Stanford. Even medicine is becoming more personalized. Customized drugs can be manufactured using epigenetic insights for population economics and individual gene expression. A combination of synthetic biology and molecular medicine is forming a new wave of medicine, and neuroscience progress is transforming the way we understand and work with the brain.[ix]
“If you don’t titillate our senses, we don’t want to buy from you. Oh, and we want to share it with our friends.” This is the sentiment of the new American consumer. Anything entertaining is destined as a bullish market. For most purchases, the American mentality is past scraping by on commodities, goods and services. Consumers are seeking experiences and transformations.[x] Whether they are buying or just watching, they want to fill their void of fulfillment and entertainment. Productions and videos get more and more silly and crazy, with such popular content as the Stratosphere Jump, the 1 billion+ YouTube views for Gangnam Style, and Discovery Channels tight rope walk across the Grand Canyon. Geo-driven applications are helping to feed this every day hunger, as geo-services increase. Geo-coding and tagging allow friends to see each other’s locations, new forming apps will begin automatically appearing to give reviews and information on location businesses, Google Glass will move from prototype to mainstream, and predictive GPS will begin planning our lives for us. Predictive GPS can even predict and let friends know where other friends are likely to be on certain days and times. They are so accurate that the average error in preliminary tests by one company was 65 feet for predictions of where someone would be the next day.[xi] Finally, Americans want to share these engaging experiences with their friends. They desire social shopping, shared value, and their mindsets are shifting to “made with me” and “shared with me”. [xii][xiii] They want experiences and transformation that benefit society rather than possessions.[xiv]
Why this matters
“All other economic offerings have no lasting consequence beyond their consumption. Even the memories of an experience fade over time. But buyers of transformations seek to be guided toward some specific aim or purpose, and transformations must elicit that intended effect… The individual buyer of the transformation essentially says, ‘Change me.’” – Pine & Gilmore, The Experience Economy[xv]
- Consumers have reached the edge of their spectrum on individualistic personalization. Now, they want to be entertained with friends.
- A 2013 Deloitte survey revealed that 67% of organization’s top priority for consumer engagement is through social media.
- Some generations like informality and others prefer formality.
- People want to be entertained, engaged, and fulfilled. If you can’t meet it as much as your competitor, they’ll just go to the other. Internally, increase trustworthiness with your team – they want to engage with others and collaborate.
- American’s like options, but not so many options that it creates the paralysis of choice.
- American’s are unhealthy for a reason, why? How is it a barrier to long-term sustainability and success? And what are potential solutions?
- American’s often enjoy knowing the back story for how something was developed before they purchase it.
How to seize the embedded opportunities
- Emphasize developing the pillars of clarity, commitment, and connection of The Trust Edge.
- Fancy the American desire for sensory engagement. Find ways to entertain buyers and potential buyers.
- Find value in good hard work, in and of itself.
- Be sensitive to formality levels with generations, but err on the side of formality.
- Help make consumers more intelligent and developed individuals.
- Contribute to making Americans healthier.
- Prepare your sales team with miniature staged performances that can be used on demand to engage customers and allow them to interact with products and services.
- Recognize that people want to be fulfilled. Engage them personally to win friends, and you’ll win customers as well as help bring some fulfillment.
- Develop trusted memorable experiences for those who engage with your brand.
- Use the Inclusive Management strategy outlined in the 2013 Edelman Trust Barometer and share vision with employees, experts, media, consumers and activist. Then listen for feedback and adapt.
- Involve consumers in the story of what they are considering buying.
- Offer more than one version of your offerings so consumers have options. Consider a hyper-personalized version.
- American’s generally distrust government officials and CEO’s and trust their peers and experts. Leverage peers via social networking and collaborate with experts.[xvi]
- Key opportunity for competitive advantage: customized experiences.
[i] 42% of Americans will be obese by 2030, CDC study finds. http://www.advisory.com/Daily-Briefing/2012/05/08/42-percent-of-Americans-will-be-obese-by-2030
[ii] Crouch, Andy. Ten Most Significant Cultural Trends of the Last Decade. http://www.qideas.org/blog/ten-most-significant-cultural-trends-of-the-last-decade.aspx
[iii] Crouch, Andy. Ten Most Significant Cultural Trends of the Last Decade. http://www.qideas.org/blog/ten-most-significant-cultural-trends-of-the-last-decade.aspx
[v] 5 Global Trends Unfolding Over the Next Decade. Leadership Now. http://www.leadershipnow.com/leadingblog/2010/02/5_global_trends_unfolding_over.html
[vi] A Top Ten for Business Leaders. The Economist. The World in 2013. http://www.economist.com/blogs/theworldin2013/2012/11/global-trends-2013http://www.economist.com/theworldin/2013
[viii] TNS Financial Insights Small Business: Top 10 Trends for 2013. http://www.tnsglobal.com/sites/default/files/TNS-Financial-Insights-Top-10-Small-Business-Trends.pdf
[x] Pine, Joseph & Gilmorek James. The Experience Economy: Work is Theatre and Every Business a Stage. 1999. Harvard Business Press.
[xiv] Pine, Joseph & Gilmorek James. The Experience Economy: Work is Theatre and Every Business a Stage. 1999. Harvard Business Press.
[xv] The Experience Economy and Advanced Value Creating Ideas. Retrieved on 19 September 2013 from http://www.accountingweb.com/blogs/ronaldbaker/firms-future/experience-economy-and-advanced-value-creating-ideas