Q: What will business and community look like in 2015?
A: Local is moving from an eco-story to a story of passion. People will be buying local goods because the people who make them are passionate about what theyâre doing. That may transfer into health products and beauty products. The whole concept of local will also evolve. At the end of the day, you canât be extremely local from a practical point of view. I met a business owner who is trying to make it so that nothing his business does is taking away from the local economy. He still sources internationally, but itâs stuff that he canât access locally. So thatâs an important idea, that youâre not taking away from your community. Youâre always adding to your community.
Also, we see how the sharing of information on products and/or services online is affecting people. Who the experts are has changed; itâs a sort of democratization of information. Itâs basically the community helping the community.
Q: How will that online sharing evolve? Do you think the average American has tapped into that?
A: In health, say you have a specific illness. Youâd probably tap into a network of people who have similar symptoms or illnesses, so weâre going to see the development of those networks. Youâll see forums become more sophisticated. Theyâll become social networks in their own rights. This will affect how health companies and experts work with communities. People donât always think about technology for health and wellness, but thereâs this whole community aspect thatâs important.
Q: Do you think that will change how we talk with our health-care providers?
A: Maybe weâre going to see what happened to the music industry happen to the health-care industry or parts of the industry, where you donât have to buy certain services or do certain things. That could be in the form of product sharing. There are a lot of product-sharing communities right now: Share your drill, share a luxury handbag. [In the health-care industry], sharing could be about equipment, say a dialysis machine or whatever people take home, like wheelchairs. When that sharing happens, the market gets smaller and you have to be the company that innovates. You canât rely on your old business model.
Q: How does beauty become a part of wellness?
A: Thereâs been a 10 percent decline in fragrance sales over the last 12 months. Basically, Gen Y isnât buying fragrance. My generation grew up with ads for CK One with very straightforward marketing. But now you have this savvy audience that gets their thrills elsewhere; they look for authenticity. They want more in a product, not just a marketed product. They want to know the story behind it. How can big manufacturers like Proctor & Gamble compete? Because P&G is essentially just a big marketing organization. It has no story or values. I think youâre not going to see these [small beauty] companies killing these big brands, but you might see them reinventing these brands. Maybe they bring in someone who has that story â¦ some chef, someone who reinvents and brings some reality to the brand.
Q: How will marketing differ in terms of changing populations, ethnicity-wise?
A: I think the knee-jerk reaction is to create products for certain multicultural groups. Thereâs an opportunity to talk to the new America rather than just saying, âHereâs our Hispanic product; hereâs our black product.â
âInterview by Radha Marcum