Prospering in Behavior-Driven Markets
Is your business in a "behavior-driven" market? If so, you have unique threats and opportunities before you. Let's look into it.
Markets are motley. Some are driven by necessity (health services, food/drink, medicine, homes, etc.), some by conscience (humanitarian, ethics, morality, religion, self-help, etc.), some by societal maintenance (education, public safety, human resources, insurance, etc.), and so on. For this article my focus is behavior-driven markets, markets that are wired into shifting and irregular human behavior. These include age-group markets (age-specific nuances, wants, or needs), passion markets (emotional interests and hobbies), criminal-related markets (law enforcement, weapons development, correctional institutions and programs, rehab/recovery facilities, etc.), seasonal markets (summer, Christmas, etc.), and so on.
A 2013 Accenture study revealed 40% of companies believe "the inherent unpredictability of consumers" is a primary barrier to financial growth. A telling 74% say they have "less-than-complete understanding of consumer behaviors". The astounding irony is, these very markets indicate a growth opportunity of $2.4 trillion from 2012-2016, and, are expected to grow at over 3 times the rate of emerging economies and 10 times the rate of developed economies!
If your business is doggy-paddling to survive in the constant wake of a behavior-driven market, take heart. Yes, you are in fickle waters, but you are also in perhaps the most promising fish pond of them all.
Stay Adaptable through "Nowcasting"
Executives and business leaders with a steady, Golden Retriever personality style tend to struggle in behavior-driven markets. It violates their intrinsic nature. If this is you, either find corporate work in a more predictable market, or, develop a new dimension to your personality.
Ongoing adaptability is the signature skill in this market kind, and it is guided by "nowcasting" (instead of forecasting). Nowcasting is the use of technology (namely, the internet) to analyze shifts or imminent shifts in consumer behavior. Market disruptions are not seen as such, but as opportunity morphing into its next form. Skilled businesses nowcast, adapt rapidly, reorganize their business models to scale, launch or relaunch or unlaunch products, and maintain or increase revenue--while the pontoon businesses are still turning the wheel.
Industry growth leaders like Amazon epitomize this. They continually (feverishly) crunch numbers and factors on a large scale, updating their website, literally, every minute. This is why they have enjoyed cumulative gains of 600% in the past decade and gross around $80 billion per year (at the time of this writing).
Employee surveys or consumer focus groups are limited and inferior to nowcasting. Nowcasting, in practical terms, means continually analyzing data for shifts or imminent shifts in consumer behavior. Whether you are a global enterprise like Amazon or small business owner in a shopping plaza, consumer data is ever available, primarily online, for you to use advantageously (demographic profiles and shifts, income brackets, spending nuances, competition info, etc.). Such intricate insight, coupled with a strategic recalibration of business operations to scale, is the competitive breakaway point that increases revenue and customer advocacy. Put simply, data keeps your business relevant.
Scripture & Practical Applications
Embrace the reality of behavior-driven markets. If your business is in this market kind, be at peace with the shifty flow of it. Ecclesiastes 11:3 (NIV) says, "If clouds are full of water, they pour rain on the earth. Whether a tree falls to the south or to the north, in the place where it falls, there it will lie." In other words, accept it and go with the flow.
Develop your data analysis operation. If you are a small business, this means carving out time each week to study data or hiring someone to do only this. For large businesses, develop a team or department to do only this. Proverbs 18:15 (AMP, Classic Edition) says, "The mind of the prudent is ever getting knowledge, and the ear of the wise is ever seeking (inquiring for and craving) knowledge."
Make decisions on the radar's edge. Data well-analyzed will reveal threats and opportunities on the radar's edge that can protect and/or balloon your business. When convincing, act on it. Proverbs 14:15 (AMP, CE) says, "The simpleton believes every word he hears, but the prudent man looks and considers well where he is going." 22:3 (NIV) says, "The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty."
Snaken your structure. Your business cannot adapt quickly if its operational structure is too rigid, complicated, or linear. It must be compatible with this market kind. Acquire, divest, reorganize, downsize, rightsize, upsize--do what you have to do to snaken your operation. Matthew 10:16 says, "...be as shrewd as snakes..." One application of this is, have organizational finesse and flexibility.
Transcending Business, Into Ministry
As a Christian businessperson, you must transcend business and cold data and touch the heart-level values of your consumers. You have to truly care about them and, as much as possible, they need to feel it.
I know what it feels like to be reduced to a number or dollar sign or stepping stone. It is a slimy, belittling feeling and I recoil quickly from it. I'm sure you do too. On the other hand, the Spirit of truth reverberates deep within when genuine goodwill are emanating from an individual or a business. Which enterprise would you be more inclined to buy a product from? Advocate for?
Accurate nowcasting can grow your business and keep it growing, but relating with consumers at the values level moves your business into spiritual ministry. These deeper connections give you trusting emotional leverage to influence them towards the Lord Jesus Christ. Get the dollar signs out of your eyes and replace them with crosses. The dollar signs should be in your cerebrum, not your heart or eyes.