Have you heard of “tectonic plates?” What I’m about to give you is far from a scientific definition. They are the different layers of the earth’s crust that are continually moving about, creating all sorts of burps, gurgles and spews. When these plates have a really bad day, we end up with volcanoes, earthquakes, typhoons and the like. We love this stuff in a movie — not so much in real life.
The marketplace has “tectonic plates” as well. The core of who consumers are and what we do is constantly shifting and moving. Businesses have plans and strategies that guide a forecasted direction, but the great businesses recognize that a static approach to the future based solely on what has occurred in the past, and sticking to the plan is a level of naiveté that leads to closing the doors. Good companies (if nothing else) are “fluid” in the implementation of their plan. “Flexibility” should be an entire semester course in B-school.
You can’t argue with Procter & Gamble’s ability to latch onto future trends and optimize the company’s performance. Their leadership seems to have a perceptual acuity (sharpness) that gains them a real focus on the future — perceptual acuity and lots and lots of data. As big of an aircraft carrier as they are, they appear to move quickly and efficiently to meet the needs of a market place that is shifting more than the belly of Mother Earth.
As an example, did you know that the fertility rate of women has dropped to an alarming level? That’s especially true if you’re in the business of selling diapers for a living. Procter & Gamble sells diapers and knows that only 63 out of 1,000 women are having children. The future is dim in diaper sales, or at least, in sales to mothers for their newborns.
But because Procter & Gamble studies all sorts of trends and future shifts in the tectonic plates of demographics, they know that 3 million baby boomers are turning 65 each and every year. They know that people are living longer than ever before and that the baby boomers of today are going to be around for a really long time. They also know that this cohort will suffer from incontinence.
The fact is, as uncomfortable as it may be to discuss, the diaper market is shifting from newborns to “oldborns.” So they are gearing up for the change (no pun intended). Resources, research, development, capital, intellectual acuity and ultimately marketing will be focused on the greater propensity that my generation will need Pampers at some point in time in our future.
What’s the next shift in the tectonic plates of credit union members? It’s a question that we focus on every day. We’re not satisfied that where we are is the last frontier of the delivery of financial services — not even close. We’re listening for the rumblings.
There is a next generation of members, technology, service, and member experience. There will be geopolitical events, socioeconomic issues, fiscal policy, monetary policy and demographic changes that will surely change our landscape. We’re plugged in.