Here are my thoughts on being well informed, up to date, and contemporary:


The other week, I was walking through the fast food court of a department store and thought to myself that the food court looked old and aged. This was surprising since the food court was recently renovated around two years ago. Back then, the newly renovated food court was exciting. But last week, as I walked around the place, the food court looked dark and drab – hardly an enticing place to have a meal.


Eventually, I spotted an outlet that sold bread products. This outlet was created by a Filipino entrepreneur and was a pioneer and trendsetter when it first entered the Philippine market sometime in the 90s. Today, a Singaporean bread outlet is the trendsetter. What saddened me was that the Filipino outlet looked dated and did not even appear to be a fast follower. The product line was boring. The outlet itself was dingy.


This poses the question: when should you upgrade and reinvigorate your product line? When should you rejuvenate your services? When should you contemporize your look?
In the past, I believe that you could take your time before reinvigorating your brand. Contemporizing your business is an expensive undertaking and so many businesses delay doing so. But today, with the internet, cable TV, and global franchising, waiting too long to contemporize your business can prove to be a fatal mistake.


Many brands, and incidentally, market leaders and pioneers, fail to continually update their business in a timely manner because they’re ahead of the pack – they think everyone’s behind them, when in reality, their competitors are already at their heels, or worse. Then the business becomes ‘my mother’s brand’ or ‘my father’s brand’ and the cost of changing consumer perception becomes an extremely expensive undertaking. Some pioneering brands die a slow death. Today’s consumer is a more sophisticated consumer. Cheap airfares and accommodation has led to a better travelled consumer. The internet and media has led to a better informed consumer. All in all, consumers have become more discerning, and from an early age, at that. This makes contemporizing your business critical.


So what strategies and tactics can one use in contemporizing a business? Here are some ideas on how to keep your business up to date:
1.    Forget the old business adage ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. Bad advice in today’s competitive business environment. Change and upgrade before your competition forces you to. If you don’t change yourself in a proactive manner, you might find that your business is actually broken because your competitor just redefined what “broken” is – you.


2.    Be proactive in contemporizing your business. This is a more cost efficient undertaking as you can contemporize in phases rather than trying to completely overhaul your business in one go.


3.    Understand your market.Visit your market place. Understand what competition is doing. Understand how your target market is responding. In my opinion, many multinationals and global organizations that have whole-heartedly embraced cluster marketing (where marketing is unified and executed from afar because this a more cost efficient model) have allowed local brands to grow and entrepreneurs to enter market gaps that marketing groups cannot see from a distance.
For example, when I was looking at hair accessories the other day, I noticed that established brands such as Goody were extremely traditional in design and quite expensive. No one was browsing their display.  On the other hand, local entrepreneurial brands were vibrant and had customers actively examining their merchandise.


4. Delight your customer with newness. A restaurant that serves the same old food day in day out becomes boring. Refresh the menu. A web site that does not change and refresh itself frequently will die a quick death. A retail outlet that features the same products 365 days a year will find foot traffic dwindling.  Bring in new collections, introduce seasonal products.  Rotate the merchandise.      


Change and newness from a consumer point of view is interesting. But then you all know that.  We just have to be reminded from time to time.


 
Malu Dy Buncio is the Chief Business Development Strategist of Mansmith and Fielders, Inc., (www.mansmith.net). For inquiries on our programs, please call (63-2) 584-5858/412-0034, text 0918-81-168-88 or email info@mansmith.net.