Harley King famously said, “Nothing stays the same and nothing changes.” It’s one of those quotes that can be, and has been, read in diverse ways, given different meanings and used to back many arguments. It can be applied when considering and discussing the topic of consumers, who superficially change from day to day, but fundamentally remain the same.
Many have complained about the changes, and many have cheered for them. There have been those who mourned for the loss of business traditions, such as high street shopping, and those who celebrated the creation of new ways of doing things, such as selling in the online marketplace.
Whatever your position and perspective, it’s important to remember two things: One; you have to leverage the opportunities brought about by changes and overcome the challenges (that much is obvious). And two; at their cores, the people you are selling to remain the same, with the same minds and motivations. This second fact seems as easy to remember as the first, but it is often forgotten by those who are too busy grabbing at each new opportunity that comes along, as well as by those who are otherwise engaged lamenting the passing of the old ways.
Innovation through realisation of new opportunities and spaces in the market is great. Good innovators in this area remember that people still have the same motivators in any unfamiliar environment and when using any new thingamajig. For example, Amazon realised that people like to get their hands on a good read, and a hundred million other things, as easily as possible. If this meant using the internet, and paying Amazon to process and deliver these things, then so be-it. Compare this to the many internet bubble failures, who thought that people would act completely differently online, paying for things they could get free elsewhere and you begin to see my point.
Equally, the main street mourners, must stop looking at the pave stones as grave stones and realise that people still enjoy a trip around town, but for different reasons. For example, Drunk Animal has helped one of its clients to support many businesses, new and old, through adoption, adaptation and, most importantly, ingenuity. Some have got creative in local streets, giving people a reason to visit and see the art works and other visual delights on show. Others have harnessed the power of e-commerce to offer their products to purchasers around the world, and some have used the web to bring more people to their places of business.
The challenge facing traditional businesses and innovators alike will always be to understand customers at a fundamental, unchangeable level and to work with them in a constantly changing environment.