47th Edition — December 29, 2019
Those who have knowledge, don’t predict. Those who predict, don’t have knowledge.Laozi
1. Trend Season
It’s that time of year again – spotting and/or predicting trends. Consider the following headlines from a recent WSJ front page:
- The Top 6 Interior-Design Trends for 2020
- Tech that Will Change Your Life in 2020
- The Future of Music is Blending Rap, Rock, Pop, and Country
- Power Shift: Why 2020 is the Turning Point for Electric Cars
- Lasagna: New York’s Hot Food Trend for 2020
- The Decade of the Uber-Decadent House
My first question, is, “Oh, really?” Is there a science to spotting trends or even predicting them? Do you need special powers (wink, wink)? I did a little digging.
2. Let Me Introduce You to Rohit Bhargava
Rohit is the author of the Non Obvious series and the latest edition is through 2019 and released at the beginning of the year. While I’m not fully blown away by the trends, I like the frameworks he introduces in the early chapters which I believe any marketer would find useful. I’ve provided a link next to each framework:
- The 5 Habits of Trend Curators – Visual
- The Haystack Method (gathering, aggregating, elevating, naming, proving) – Link
- 3 Essentials of Idea Curation (memorable insights, note boxes, intersections) – Related Article
- 3 Elements of Great Trends (idea, acceleration, impact) – Slide 15
- 4 Mindsets of Intersection Thinking – Image
My favorite line of Rohit’s is, “Discovering trends takes a willingness to combine curiosity with observation and add insight to create valuable ideas that you can then test to ensure they are valid.”
Some of you tell me you buy many of the books I mention each week. Before hitting the ‘buy’ button, you can skim the author’s trends here dating back to 2011. Also, this interactive visual looking like a periodic chart is cool (Chrome might give you security warning).
3. The Trend of Passive Loyalty
Many of my clients have implemented Net Promoter Score (NPS) since I introduced it to them. Yet, I’m the same guy who keeps saying,
That’s because a high NPS can be misleading. In any business, we’re looking for cause-and-effect activities that can predict consumer behavior. A growing or high NPS is not necessarily predictive of future customer actions with your brand.
Welcome to passive loyalty. Thank you, Rohit Bhargava, for identifying this trend in your 2019 book. The author cites a 2018 study that 68% of consumers identify as transient loyalists which means they could be convinced to buy a competitor’s brand. The author goes on to define the difference between passive loyalty and the loyalty of belief. Which category do your promoters fall into?
Rohit finishes this short chapter about the myth of employee satisfaction for similar reasons why passive loyalists exist. This chapter alone is worth the price of the book for any conscientious CEO.
Bonus Reading – clients who implement NPS that have a marketing department are required to read this 2013 classic case study about Jiffy Lube’s key insights on their use of NPS. They were certainly dealing with passive loyalists.
4. A Weird Holiday Buying Season
I played the good husband this holiday season by helping Mrs. G with a few gift purchases. Talk about a trip down memory lane. I stood in a long snake line at Marshall’s which used to be a Circuit City. Next door used to be the Toys “R” Us which is now Ashley Furniture. I stepped into a specialty retailer at the mall which used to be a Radio Shack. While getting a coffee at a nearby Panera, I happened to notice the old Blockbuster building was empty.
Business failure and bankruptcies were a recurring storyline during this decade that’s coming to an end. Don’t forget Sears, The Limited, Borders, The Sports Authority, Theranos, and Compaq (and I’m just scratching the surface).
Should we study failure? Below are some books I’ve enjoyed reading on this topic. A key theme – founders and CEOs did not take trends and the competition seriously enough. When they did, it was way too late based on these books:
- Circuit City – Good to Great to Gone by Alan Wurtzel
- BlackBerry – Losing the Signal by Jacquie McNish (painful to read because the founders were too proud to see their shortcomings)
- Sears – The Big Store by Donald Katz (one of the founders of The Home Depot used to require his senior managers to read this book)
Here’s hoping the business you work in is around for the next 100 years. You play a key role in making this happen.
5. Remembering Another Era
Sorry, unlike every other publication, no more talk about the past decade. Let’s revisit the past century instead. If you can say ‘yes’ to more than seven, then you are really old like me:
1. You wore P.F. Flyers as a kid (no, but I wore Converse instead)
2. You accompanied parents to restaurants with tableside jukeboxes (I barely remember these)
3. You bought soda pop from machines with glass bottles (yep)
4. You couldn’t always make a phone call because someone was on the party line (@%$&*&, yes!)
5. You owned 45 RPM records (yes, and 33’s too)
6. You were momentarily blinded at graduation because of those flashing blue bulbs (yes, I’m still seeing stars)
7. You carried a metal lunchbox to school (no, my friends did – mine was plastic)
8. You pretended to smoke, the candy cigarettes (my, how times have changed)
9. You watch grandma carefully fill in her S+H Green Stamps booklet (yes, I certainly remember)
Coincidentally, David Halberstam’s The Fifties is in my reading queue for Q1 in 2020.
As we end the year, I cannot thank you enough for reading these weekly discussions on books. I continue to be humbled by the open rates which hover around 50% each week. May the new year be one for continued learning and growth.
Thank You For Reading
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Take care and have a great week. Always be learning.