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creativity column

The ‘NOW’ economy means business.


So, what exactly is the NOW economy? John Dodds, Senior Member of The Sharp End, a branding and marketing strategy consultancy based in the Lehigh Valley, describes it like this, “The NOW economy is one where the consumer wants individualized experiences from the brand.  In that ecosystem, consumers drive the demand, and in many ways, whether or not the brand stays relevant.” 

Dodds helps organizations identify and communicate their uniqueness to the market in both the B2C and B2B sectors and works to guide companies as they navigate their way through this brave new marketing world.

Author and Motivational Speaker, Steve Maraboli, believes this, “When companies replace a sense of service and gratitude with a sense of entitlement and expectation, we quickly see the demise of the relationship, society, and the economy.”  Which is why one of the biggest threats the NOW economy exposes are companies with bad internal politics and a weak organizational structure that refuses to support new ideas; often stifling any innovation and creativity.

Technology expert Ken Goldstein offers this, “Creativity tempered by sound judgment is the currency of the NOW economy. It remains largely an open playing field for anyone who wants to relearn on a daily basis everything they thought they knew.” British Author and advertising guru, Sir John Hegarty agrees, “Without a passion for what you’re producing you may well be able to manage a business, but you will never be able to inspire greatness.”

A recent example of that model in action is suitcase manufacturer, AWAY, founded by former Warby-Paker executives, Stephanie Korey, and Jennifer Rubio, in 2015. The origin story behind the brand is a simple one. Co-founder Jen Rubio’s suitcase broke on a trip to Switzerland, and she struggled to find a replacement. Sending text messages to her well-traveled friends hoping at least one could provide a usable suggestion, but none did.

The pair saw an opening in the suitcase market and went to work creating an affordable, durable hard-shell suitcase with wheels and a built-in battery pack for charging electronics. “They built the brand through the quality of the product and the ease at which consumers can interact with them online. AWAY drove awareness through their social media channels which allowed consumers to share their travel stories and their love of the AWAY product.” Dodds added.

Successful business leaders instinctively know that industry disruption will continue to accelerate with technology and innovation being the only path to competitive differentiation.  “It doesn’t matter if you’re large or small, every company needs a balance of humanity and technology. Humanity works with the customer’s overall experience with the brand, and technology is there to ensure everything on the back end runs smoothly. These elements can help you build a strong brand, but you can’t do it reactively or incrementally, you need a clear vision.” Dodds stressed. 

Tech-savvy consumers award brand loyalty to companies that deliver innovative, personalized services that put the focus on positive brand experiences.  While Dodds acknowledges that the NOW economy puts consumers in the driver’s seat, he believes that the future will be all about voice. Voice search, voice command, voice knowledge, voice information. In many ways, it’s already here. “The now economy will become the future economy and voice will be at the forefront of how we get our knowledge, how we order things, how we entertain ourselves. Voice will be the new search.” Dodds said.

It’s going to be fascinating to watch how this all unfolds in the coming years.  B2B organizations must adapt to the NOW economy and recognize the impact that it will have on its processes and customer relationships. It also doesn’t matter if you call this period the ‘Sharing’ economy or the ‘NOW’ economy, it’s here to stay, and it means business.

William Childs

William ChildsComment