• CEOforesight

Consumers - Whatever Next?

The ability to digitally transform at pace is being stress-tested by the pandemic, most visibly through decentralised working models and diversifying supply chains. We are starting to do things differently but have mostly yet to confront how we do different things. The ability to craft a consumer-centric service or product, not to mention organisational model and work culture this entails, is core to future success.

How can CEOs do this in such an uncertain environment, with around 7.6 million British jobs at risk - a term encompassing permanent layoffs, temporary furloughs, and reductions in hours and pay? What opportunities and challenges are inherent in this fluid consumer-environment, and where should CEOs be looking to strategically invest?

Three core practices will help guide success: the ability to rewire ways of working, reimagining organisational structure, and readapt talent. Not only does these issues require a careful consideration of how a range of new technologies are grafted into overall structures and strategies, but what principle these practices are organised around. The ‘consumer’ cannot simply an adjunct to these changes, or an afterthought. The consumer must be the centre around which greater organisational, technological and business model shifts are structured.

Consumer tech, for example, will propel new working, health, entertainment and shopping practices that will probably become permanent fixtures, to various degrees, in the post-pandemic period. Companies with the technology and imagination to design great consumer tech mediated experiences in the home — or in third spaces — will have a huge advantage, at least in the near term. Furthermore, since 40 percent of consumers would buy a brand they’d never heard of if it was recommended by Siri or Alexa, the use of new channels, including personal bots and virtual assistants, could become key conduits of consumer change that organisations need to adapt to.

As traditional industry (and organisational) boundaries blur and collapse, the need to focus on higher purpose is pressing for CEOs. Doing what has always been done, no matter how hitherto successful, will unlikely result in sustainable success. Examining what it is that you provide, at its core, will help adapt to shifting demand and capitalise on providing a wider range of consumers with new ways of fulfilling their desires and demands.

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