Wednesday, December 19, 2012

ONWARD into 2013

I am writing this blog as I fly first class on a Delta Airlines flight on a Sunday afternoon. 

I am en route to Iowa… the University of Iowa… to facilitate and listen to individuals talk about cancer and the battle to be a cancer survivor.

I always applaud groups that take the time to hear how consumers perceive things before they go spend a bunch of money attempting to drive their brand forward.

As we are soon off to celebrate the Holidays with family, friends and pets, I want to take a moment and reflect some on 2012 and even more importantly, project out what will be some of the dynamics we are likely to encounter in 2013.

This past year has been an interesting year to be sure.

The U.S. re-elected its president and yet is now more divided than ever.

The Canadian economy is predicted to stall as consumer debt hits one of the highest levels on the maple leaf state’s record.

Europe struggles to unify with working economies footing the bill for the leisure economies. 

China is no longer a silent economy.  While China’s economy quickly becomes part of the global community as a whole, no one can overlook the fact that China is a major global economic agent.

Mexico and Latin America can be both a supply resource of labor along with an energy resource provider if the governments ever take a moment to rise up and see the opportunity.

Perhaps more important than the economic and political landscape are the generational changes taking place… and the lack of many businesses to fully wrap their hands around the emerging opportunities.

Perhaps the #1 force that will be driving 2013 forward is the trend I refer to as the “Millennial Springboard” in the 2013 TRENDCAST report. 

In some ways, I feel like a broken record when I get on the pulpit and preach to businesses and clients that the Millennials are not only here, but they are now crafting the world around us just as the Boomers did in the ‘60’s and the ‘70’s. 

The U.S. Census has now embraced a slightly wider age range defining the Millennial Generation (or GenYers as parts of the press and academia still refers to them) of adults (note “adults”) age 19-34 in 2013.

The leading edge of Millennials is driving business strategy and the trailing edge is soon to be out of college. 

Colleges and Universities are quickly facing the reality that the market of applicants is now on the decline… and the predicted resurgence of Millennials birthing kids gets delayed even more, thanks, in large part to the cost of raising a kid in today’s economy.

In 2013, Millennials will drive the housing market and their lifestyles will drive the crafting of home layouts and design.

They will be impacting the media world and what we interactively engage in whether it might be social, entertainment or function. 

Back in 2010, I crafted a set of what I referred to as Change Waves… trends that were not simply affecting a segment or two of the marketplace, but rather re-shaping the marketplace at large.

“Rethink and Refocus” was cited as one of the Change Waves that will drive change in how we have conventionally modeled business and personal pursuit.

Whether we individually participated in the re-election of President Obama or not, the drive to “Rethink and Refocus” will affect the outcomes of pursuit even more in the next 4-5 years ahead.

The ways in which individuals personally pursue their dreams and visions will be even less crafted around convention.

Businesses that elect to venture forward with past models will at best, see little-to-no change in their sales… and perhaps even more likely, will file Chapter 11.

In this morning’s WSJ, there is an article about Simon Malls and their “overhaul strategy” to combat declining mall shopping and vacant storefronts.

The article even notes “after decades of retail construction, the era of new-mall development in the U.S. is drawing to a close with much of the U.S. overbuilt and online shopping crimping many retailers’ grand opening plans.”

Here are a couple of sideline observations… and remember, I am writing this aboard an airplane so its not like I am spending time pursuing quantitative statistical support for these observations…

#1 -- Most of the Simon Malls are located in aging suburban neighborhoods posting little-to- no growth in the next 5 years

#2 -- Most of the population around the malls is aging with kids leaving the neighborhoods in pursuit of jobs

#3 -- Most of the brand names found in the malls are brand names that have been around for at least 25 years and are seeking out ways to "recharge" their brand platforms

#4 -- All of the malls' marketing directors that state events continue to fashion their strategy around the "mom and dad with two kids and a dog" 

Malls are a great example of a business that is facing profound challenges, but at the same time, opportunity to “Rethink and Refocus” and craft their brand experiences around the new, emerging Millennial Generation.

If Simon Malls picked up the phone and called my group today, I would welcome the chance to team up with them in crafting strategy to Rethink and Refocus…


I would confront leadership in that phone call and ask them if they are fully ready to embrace the change and let go of convention that no longer works.

Otherwise, all of the time and energy spent would be for naught.

Many of my friends this time of year are placing their bets on what team will be winning which one of the bowl games so I will end this blog with another opportunity for readers to put some money on the table relative to Simon Malls and the challenge they face in 2013.

Here is what the president of Simon Malls said in the article about how Simon Malls is planning to move their brand forward…

“There are very few markets that aren’t already served by sophisticated retail… making what you already have as good as it can be is the best way to go.  We are planning to spend $300 million in the next two years to improve the shopping centers with expanded dining choices and movie theaters.”

Whether its “11” or “13”… I know where I am placing my money on the betting table!

ONWARD into 2013!