“Change is the new normal.” That was quoted by Philip Kotler in his new book “Chaotics”. While many see change as negative, there are a lot more businesses today see change as a good thing. Peter Drucker wrote in his book, “Entrepreneurship and Innovation”, that change in organization, industry and demographic are sources of innovation. And from Jack Welch in his book, “Winning”, he also said “change is inevitable, you got to embrace it!.”
Change means any change that happened in this world that leave impact to your business. We have witnessed how change in technology has changed the way communicate and commute these days. We also experienced change in demographic and how it has transformed many businesses in this world. We also have seen how change in population has revolutionized the food business and supply chains. We also recently shocked by the global financial crisis that only happen once in the lifetime for many of us. Change is inevitable but the ability to respond to change is what matters. As Darwin once said that “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”. And it has to be done fast enough.
Let’s take a look of what happen in the recent crisis. Don’t look far, look around us. How many us realized the subsequent few months after the crisis hits Malaysia (or at least the spiral effect), the advertisement dollars shaved and subsequently plummeted. You will see this especially in The Star, English dailies, on their Saturday’s copy because that’s like the bumper issue of the week. And usually inflated by the job advertising for various companies but when the crisis hits, it was very thin. I remember holding The Star on two Saturdays of a Sunday size (usually the Sunday size is the thinnest of all). Is it fair to say the recruitment was freeze that time? Potentially yes.
I also observed there were less commercial ads filling our TV3. Well, ASTRO advertised itself in its own channels, so we don’t see much differences. There was a lot of SALE going around at shopping malls to charge back the economy. Government pump priming few billions ringgit to cushion the economy a bit. Not to mentioned the stimulus packages and new projects worth billions of ringgit to give more hope to our business people in the country. All these changes have a chain effect in our business environment.
Take for example if early of the year we already plan to launch a new premium service and suddenly the crisis hits, we will think many times whether to launch or postpone. Chances are we will postpone it. When crisis hits, don’t take chances. Deal with the present first.
Another example is reflecting how Malaysia has evolved so much demographically. And we are still in the transition period of this change. We haven’t settled yet. Our demographic is evolving and it is evolving very fast. It is unlikely to slow down. In fact it will not slow down because it is like a moving average in the financial market statistical tool; the average gets
higher and higher by the day. Look how it has changed the job market, consumer market, commodity market, technology market, education market and a lot more other markets. Not to mention the emerging of women purchasing power.
I attended a seminar in Kuala Lumpur recently and bumped into a client. He is now
working with a top public university in Malaysia. We chatted and I asked him why his university still doesn’t offer distance learning to cater for growing “middles” i.e. middle class, middle manager and middle age group that account more than 30% of Malaysian total population of 28 million? Remember he is the Head of Marketing and his answer was, “We have yet to see a real demand.”
My eyes went rounded and I was shocked. I told her that Open University Malaysia (OUM), one of the leading pioneer of distance learning universities, has cumulatively more than 90, 000 students, Multimedia University has more than 20, 000 and not to mention other private universities and colleges that usually cater long distance students in their twinning programs with United Kingdom, Australia and United States. In total I estimated at least 250, 000 adults now on part time or distance learning and attending weekend classes. If you don’t call that a niche market and demand, I don’t know what is.
Therefore, changes in the marketing and business environment do affect strategic marketing, but what are we going to do about it matters the most. Remember, the direction should be on the customer and not you.
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