Why evolution is key for the survival of brands

Friday March 10 2017

Joe Mucheru (left), the Cabinet Secretary for Information, Communications and Technology, at the Nairobi Innovation Week event at the University of Nairobi on March 8, 2017. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Joe Mucheru (left), the Cabinet Secretary for Information, Communications and Technology, at the Nairobi Innovation Week event at the University of Nairobi on March 8, 2017. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By ANDREW KILONZO
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Nicollo Machiavelli once said “if you desire constant success you must change your conduct with time”. The renowned Italian historian’s words resonate equally with today’s audience as they did in 1513 Florence. Fast-forward 500 years and the global dynamics around change and evolution are much more evident in everyday life.

The principle prescribed to business evolution is being in a continuous state of realising goals and expectations, a constant state of improvement.

Each new year comes with new desires, expectations, goals and deliverables. In business, these include improving on productivity, reducing negative publicity, less conflict, better efficiency, creating a conducive working environment and, above all, increasing profits.

These culminate into one word: evolution. The need for adaptation has never been more necessary than in our current times, considering the speed at which consumer demands, lifestyles, and desires change.

According to Diageo’s first Future Series trends report, businesses need to focus on delivering three key things products that will give the consumer an immersive experience, services that can be conveniently accessed within the home environment, and, for those in the savoury business, appeal to the health conscious but taste savvy consumer.

DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY

The report notes that these will be driven by strategically employing digital technology. In a bid to respond to the first trend, Diageo has already delved into this with an immersive virtual reality adventure that allows whisky fans to discover and appreciate the flavours of its Singleton single malt Scotch whisky.

Secondly, as an alcohol drinks manufacturer, we are no longer entirely focused on pubs and clubs as the only venue to impress our customers. In 2017, in regard to the second trend, we will see the home become the place to create and curate extraordinary experiences for friends and family.

Finally, in relation to third social trend in 2017, people will continue to opt for products and experiences that help them to lead a balanced lifestyle. The more health conscious consumer is looking for more nutrients and less calories. Products such as Tusker Lite, a low carb beer, and Balozi, a sugar-free brand, respond to our local consumers.

This emphasis on research by companies like Diageo shows that businesses are cognisant of the fact that their consumers are constantly evolving in their habits, behaviour and patterns. Businesses have the added task of being proactive with market trends to survive and thrive in this cut-throat capitalist world.

BEING STATIC

It is not hard to see why companies that have fallen into the trap of being static in a changing market inundate the business world. The iconic Eastman Kodak is a good case study. Once a legacy brand, it was caught flat-footed by the emergence of the digital age.

On the flip side, there are companies that are on the front-foot of market shifts and dynamics, constantly churning out solutions for their insatiable consumers. Google, the world’s most valuable company, has built a reputation for being a conveyer belt of innovative solutions, led by the Google X division, their research and idea incubation hub.

Closer to home, many enterprises are continually pushing the boundaries of complacency and status quo to make themselves commercially viable. Recently, Forbes Africa published its list of Africa’s most innovative companies with Kenya’s Safaricom, Nation Media Group and East African Breweries breaking into the top 10 list. The 10 companies, Forbes Africa said, have continuously reinvented themselves by setting industry standards and radically changing their sectors.

A report by Statistic Brain Institute on small and medium-sized enterprises shows that 25 percent of all startups fail in their first year of operations. This depicts an 80 percent rate of closure. With the demanding nature of global markets, Kenyan brands have the opportunity to shake off labels of “emerging” and “potential” with sufficient investment in their ability to innovate, embrace new ideas in order to meet the changing face of socialising.

Andrew Kilonzo is sales director (premium trade), Kenya Breweries.