Gamechangers: Marketers are the Business Innovators

December 4, 2015 at STIMA Congress, ICC Gent

The best marketers are disruptive innovators … from Alibaba to Zipcars, Le Pain Quotidian and Stella Artois.

Download summery of Peter Fisk’s keynote: Be the Gamechanger

Across the world, new ideas, new businesses and new solutions are transforming every market.

“Gamechangers” think and act differently. They innovate every aspect of their brand and marketing.

The best opportunities for businesses to win – to find new growth, to engage customers more deeply, to stand out from the crowd, to improve their profitability – is by seizing the opportunities of changing markets.

The best way to seize these changes is by innovating – not just innovating the product, or even the business itself, but by innovating the market.  Today’s most successful businesses – from Airbnb to Tesla, Apple to Uber – innovate the market – what it is, how it works.

However most businesses accept the market as given – the status quo – and compete within it. With slightly different products and services, or most usually by competing on price. Most new products are quickly imitating, leading to declining margins and commoditisation.

Marketers, instead of having their heads down, playing this game of diminishing returns – simply trying to build awareness, with tactical promotions, social media gimmicks and price discounts a should have their heads up – fining the best new market opportunities, then thinking how to innovate the market, and then the business.

Marketers are the best people to do this – to change the game, not just play the game – they are the “Gamechangers” … To innovate their market, and then to innovate their business – like Whatsapp creating $19bn in three years, Uber $40bn in 5 years … These companies harness the power of ideas and networks to create exponential impact.

Gamechangers … next generation brands

From Alibaba to Zipcars, Ashmei to Zidisha, Azuri and Zynga, a new generation of businesses are rising out of the maelstrom of economic and technological change across our world. These are just a few of the companies shaking up our world.

Gamechangers are disruptive and innovative, start-ups and corporates, in every sector and region, reshaping our world. They are more ambitious, with stretching vision and enlightened purpose. They see markets as kaleidoscopes of infinite possibilities, assembling and defining them to their advantage. They find their own space, then shape it in their own vision. Most of all they have great ideas. They outthink their competition, thinking bigger and different. They don’t believe in being slightly cheaper or slightly better. That is a short-term game of diminishing returns.

We asked 1000 business leaders to nominate the companies who they believe are creating the future in each different sector. The top 100 innovators are big and small, spread across every sector and continent, from Asia to the Americas, finance to fashion. And then we wanted to understand what they did differently.

They range from well known innovators like Amazon and Apple – the magic Dash buttons creating a direct link between consumer and brands, the ecosystems that go beyond devices – to new brands like Brazil’s Beauty’in fusing the world of food and cosmetics, or even Zespri redefining the obscure Chinese gooseberry as the superfood Kiwi fruit.

Changing the game … in Europe

Europe is a land of “gamechangers” too … from Raspberry Pi’s $30 computers built in Cambridge to Red Bull in Salzburg (redefined as a media company, rather than a drinks company), and Renova’s colourful toilet papers in Lisbon (any colour except white!). Even more locally, in Belgium Alain Coumont changed the game when he launched his artisan bakeries Le Pain Quotidian (as an antidote to a digital world!) and Stella Artois ensured it would always be seen as a great beer (being “reassuringly expensive” and served in its distinctive “chalice”).

They capture their higher purpose in more inspiring brands that resonate with their target audiences at the right time and place, enabled by data and technology, but more through empathetic design and rich human experiences. They fuse digital and physical, global and local, ideas and networks. Social media drives reach and richness, whilst new business models make the possible profitable. They collaborate with customers, and partner with other business, connecting ideas and utilising their capabilities. They look beyond the sale to enable customers to achieve more, they care about their impact on people and the world, whilst being commercially successful too.

As they say in the GoogleX moonshot factory, in seeking to reinvent everything from cars to healthcare, “Why be 10% better, when you could be 10 times better?”

What will you do in 2016?

Here are some of the big trends being embraced by marketers right now. How could your business use them to think different, innovate smarter and grow faster?

Simplicity … convenience … speed … in crowded markets, finding ways to make life easier … This might be simplifying the latest technologies to make it accessible to everyone, or using tech automation to make things faster and better, curation to simplify choice design thinking to reduce complexity and also stand out more boldly.

Social … communities … movements …  people don’t trust brands, they trust each other … Therefore a brands role is for brands to facilitate people connecting with other people like them, usually supported by social media. This build communities. Communities with a purpose become powerful, energised and valuable – they are movements.

Sharing … collaboration … togetherness … the diversity of business models, from subscription to rental, allows business to engage customers in new ways … Collaborative business models, from co-creation to crowdsourcing, collaborative consumption and community, are one of the most dramatic – increasing revenues, reducing waste and more fun!

Mobile … big data … human … most interactions start with a smartphone … Developing mobile-centric customer experiences, not just in terms of information or offers, but using mobility in ways that add value – using location, personalisation and ongoing support. This drives huge amounts of big data which companies can now harness, analyse and use in smart and positive ways.


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