Living on another planet.
When people think about life, they usually think about their current life on earth. One big revolution which will certainly come our way during the 21st century, is the possibility and the need for some of us to go live on another planet.
We are well aware of the many challenges that are facing earth and its sustainability. Issues such as global warming and overpopulation are forcing us to think about alternative solutions for the future of human life. By 2050, the world population should reach more than 9 billions. At current pace and with existing technologies, the world as we know it today would lack some essential resources. The world would also be overcrowded.
All around the world, people and organizations are looking for innovative solutions to these challenges. Those range from synthetic food production, alternative energy to new concepts for city planning among many others.
One solution which is often overlooked as it appears to be too distant in the future is to actually use another planet as a place to live. The reality is that this idea might become a reality faster than most people think. Our knowledge of the solar system and space is rapidly advancing and will only accelerate. The cost of space transportation will continue to rapidly decrease in the years to come. The speed of travel will only increase. Planets which are far away today might be within our reach tomorrow.
One of the most likely candidate to be the first planet for interspatial immigration is Mars. The red planet offers certain properties which makes it more similar to earth than most other planets we know of. Mars is half the size of earth and not too distant when compared with other planets in our solar system. At night, Mars gets very cold with temperature that can reach minus 180 degrees Fahrenheit. But by day, the temperature on Mars can reach 59 degrees. With some intelligent solutions and innovations, we can believe today that people could perfectly live on Mars.
Thinking about it, we can also be sure that other planets will play, one way or the other, an exceedingly more important role for the future of human kind. So maybe one day, instead of asking strangers from which country do they come from, you may find yourself asking where in the universe do they live.
The golden age of smartphones is over.
Google selling Motorola to Lenovo is another indication that the smartphone market has reached a certain maturity. The two largest player of the industry, Apple and Samsung, are repeatedly expressing the need to shift their focus to the East to maintain the sales growth of their smartphone. The western world is no longer the future for growth and all the other manufacturers have already their eyes riveted on Asia and South America. These markets will as well get to saturation in the near future.
Much like television, smartphones have reached such levels of penetration that sustaining high growth is increasingly complicated (note that as the world continues to accelerate, this penetration has been reached much faster than TVs in their time). Sales cycle are today also well known and established with usually one flagship handset per manufacturer per year.
Obviously, smartphones and more importantly the myriad of applications they sustain are far from over. We are all going to continue using them day in day out and we can expect much more in terms of software innovation in the future.
On the other hand, the market on the hardware side is clearly slowing down. Innovations and technological breakthrough could fuel its growth once again but this seems unlikely in the short-term. Big manufacturers are already moving their attention (and wallets) towards new industries such as home automation (Google acquiring Nest) and the big trends in wearables and portable health (iWatch / iOS 8; Google Glass).
This is a profound and important shift. As investments in new categories are rapidly increasing, the “post smartphone” era is about to begin.
It’s time to move again.
After couple of fantastic years living in Manhattan, the time has come once again to move and explore new horizons. This time to Los Angeles.
New York is a wonderful city. It offers the perfect mix of cultural activities, work opportunities, restaurants, nightlife and so much more. The city has a special energy and there is always something to do. In that sense, it reminds me of Madrid and London in Europe. The only downside of NY is the weather which in winter is particularly difficult. The best months are probably April to June and September to November.
Time to head west and discover a new way of life on the border of the pacific.
NYC is getting ready for the #superbowl with toboggan rides (at Times Square)
Surprised to learn today that Al Capone actually died as a free man at age 48 (at Alcatraz)
Don’t shoot in the middle.
We are all aware that the middle class is rapidly disappearing. The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. This phenomenon doesn’t affect demographics only. The disappearance of the “middle” is pervasive among business industries as well. This is changing how we need to approach the marketing and commercialization of new products and services in the future.
If you look at the current landscape in several economic sectors, you rapidly realize the disappearance of “middle price” offerings. If they continue to exist, they are usually not very successful anymore. Let’s take airlines for example. Today, most airline companies compete over price at the bottom of the scale (think about Southwest or Ryanair in Europe). Others have a different positioning and try to offer premium services at a much higher price (think about Etihad or even how private plane companies are growing as a segment overall). Airlines that play in the mid-price range are getting squeezed (that’s one of the reason why there is all those mergers and less and less of these mid-range companies in this market).
The same is true for an ever growing number of industries. You can think about the food sector (premium organic vs. cheap industrial), housing market (expensive in the center, cheap in the suburbs), computers and so many more. Most industries are going through this change and this not only limited to one region. The entire world is experiencing the same phenomenon at different speed.
This trend is affecting how you should position and develop your future offerings in the marketplace. You should be much more specific rather than generalist. You can decide to develop a product which will offer the minimum required features and compete over price or go for the premium route and offer something at a relatively high price (the luxury market was one of the only industries which sustained reasonable growth during the 2008-2013 crisis for example). If you try to offer something mid-range, you are taking the risk to target an irrelevant need in the market as consumers’ habits have shifted with this new distribution of wealth. You also running the risk of not creating enough “division” for people to really care about what you are offering. It is generally not a bad idea to create a sense of cleavage for your product. Some with love it (Apple fans), some will hate it (Android fans), but no one will be indifferent.
Even in the automobile industry where today cars can be found at every price point, you can bet that in the future, competition and the market will shift to the extremes and move further away from the middle. They will always be middle range cars but their importance in the marketing mix should get reduced considerably.
So next time you think about developing a new product or service, try to avoid the middle. By not aiming the center of the target, you might actually hit your target…
The importance of instant gratification in the consumer business.
Over the years, I have remarked that one useful attribute to a successful consumer offering is the capacity for a product or service to offer an immediate gratification or benefit to its users. In general, people don’t like to “invest” time doing something in order to achieve a specific result down the line. Consumers want to use products and services which are simple and which results and benefits are immediate.
Obviously, in some cases this generalization won’t apply. When what you offering targets something that consumers “must do”, then the instant gratification is not a relevant attribute anymore to forecast demand and usage as options are limited. Think about an accounting software for a small company for example. This service is a must have for the business owner even if its benefits could only be perceived over the long-term (having well-presented books).
What is interesting is that in general only the “must dos” break the rule. Even for products and services that help us do something more efficiently or have a real utility, instant gratification and simplicity are usually key for their usage and mass adoption over the long-term. This is one of the reason why even if most of the population is fully aware that exercising is important for health, less than 20% of people regularly practice a sport. The health rewards of sport are not immediate as you need to be consistent to really gain its benefits. It requires effort and discipline (two very dangerous words when you are trying to sell something to consumers).
The bright side of this phenomenon is that you will always have a number of people in a population who will be ready to make efforts and invest their time in the present for results in the future. This is why so many markets such as the diet market can exist and be sustainable even if they don’t offer instant gratification. Still, those products and services will never be adopted in mass such as cars or even social media (in both these cases, you don’t need to do much efforts and you can get an instant gratification from buying or participating).
The markets which need the education, involvement and commitment of their consumers will also usually take much more time to get to a reasonable size. It took 25 years for the treadmill to really take off and its appeal is still “limited”. Prevention or selling future benefits is a tough marketing strategy if it doesn’t come with a dose of gamification or “entertainment” attached to it.
When creating or developing a product or service, always think about the amount of efforts and commitment which will be necessary from consumers to get the benefits of what you are offering. The more efforts and time are required, the riskier is your venture.
The Transamerica #Pyramid (at San Francisco)
Watched “The Wolf of Wall Street”.
Great movie. The film is not only fun, it also depicts relatively well the ups and downs of Wall Street by exploring subjects such as greed and excess.