Market and Industry Changes: Holt Strategies
Twenty years ago when we started our business, most restaurants were family owned. Over the years, the market has changed from being mostly family owned to more nationally owned chains. Manufacturing declined and medical businesses grew. Locally owned retail declined and national retail grew.
As we researched the market, we switched our focus out of retail and more to contracting. We moved from selling to restaurants to selling to medical firms. When our business demanded a change in order to stay successful and continue to grow, we listened.
Our industry changed from newspapers, radio and TV advertising to internet and signage. We got into web design and started a company that specializes in design, creation, installation and service of high tech signs. As the market changed, we changed. Most of our competitors declined in sales and profit and eventually closed their doors. We continued to grow because of our willingness to change with the market needs. Innovation was the answer - again.
Demographics include age, income, family size, diversity and can measure past, current and future trends. Changes in demographics offer opportunity for innovation. Ignoring demographics leads to failure. We offer market research services to our clients because it helps them better predict future business trends. The changes we forecasted resulted in sending our customers in new directions. A manufacturing business invested in developing an assisted living center. A homecare business jumped on the research we gave them and began an acquisition strategy that gave them the opportunity to sell out to a public company at a huge profit.
Demographic research reports sent our clients into faster growing markets and into larger, higher-income markets. In the last few years over 30 percent of our sales were from markets that we had never sold to before. Innovation through demographics can lead to success. We have developed a unique research process that can help any business grow; regardless of their industry, company size or amount of competition.
Changes of Meaning and Perception
A person’s beliefs can change over time; as when confronted with a different set of facts. Is the glass half empty or half full? The reality is the same. The way you think about it isn’t. One is positive and one is negative. Perception can affect how one approaches the decision making process.
A good example is the way people look at healthcare. The fact is that we are healthier than we have ever been. But because people’s perceptions are focused on longevity, the result is increased sales of vitamins, herbs, personal trainers, diet businesses and health foods that are growing faster and faster.
A common misconception of small businesses was that they were high risk and had no real future. That perception has changed as more and more businesses are started up each year. Many business owners’ plan for retirement was to sell the business and invest the money in mutual funds. That perception is changing to developing systems and people to keep the business going longer because the mutual funds turned out to be a higher risk than investing in one’s own business. This change in perception has caused us to innovate yet again and create products that fill this need for our clients.
New knowledge comes through research, observation and experience. In my experience, staying informed of new technologies has led us to faster innovation of both our products and services. Since most innovative ideas for our clients have come from the research services that we perform, we have developed our understanding and use of the Internet to discover new knowledge that will allow us to increase our level of understanding. We have known that technology was going to change the way business was done longer than most businesses and most of our competitors. We started out in the graphic design business using computers to make money 20 years ago, while the competition was still using drawing boards.
New knowledge that we have acquired has been in learning ways to apply off-the-shelf software programs to speed up process documentation; key indicators reporting, financial reporting linked to strategy and personal productivity. The impact of this new knowledge has led us to use innovation in ways that speed up everything for our clients – from acquiring customers faster, to more powerful sales presentations, to getting work done faster and cheaper. Innovation works to increase success.
Convergence means taking two or more processes/technologies that were non-related and combining them to create a new opportunity. For example, marketing and technology have been merged together to create Internet marketing. Construction companies have diversified by adding an architect and becoming a design and build company. A cell phone has been merged with a computer and producing one device that performs voicemail, email, calendars, etc.; thus creating a productivity machine.
Finding new and innovative ways to serve your clients with converging technologies can give you the competitive edge necessary to become the leader in your industry. This can be done by adding a new technology to an existing process and making it more robust, or it can be done by adding a new service to your existing offerings to allow your company to service a more diversified target market.
The focus of successful market research needs to be the development of accurate projections in six key areas:
- Population changes in growth, age group and income
- Job growth changes by industry, skill area, pay and location.
- Industry segmentation by sector niche, sales, number of employees and location.
- Competition by sector niche, sales, number of employees, products, services and price points.
- Industry financial indicators.
- Identifying successful industries and companies.