Delhaize selling funny looking vegetables. ING launching a FinTech village in Brussels. Mr. Bricolage launching their own sharing platform for customers. These are all further signs that companies have understood that the needs of their customers are changing. The “mainstream” is acknowledging that last years trends are here to stay and they need to adapt to them.
You need to create value, beyond profit
One of the primary reasons why I launched Economy2dot0 is because I am convinced that customer behaviour and needs are changing and that companies need to engage them differently or risk loosing them. This article in Le Soir reinforces that message: http://www.lesoir.be/949502/article/l-ete-du-soir/2015-07-30/delhaize-vend-des-legumes-non-conformes
Delhaize, one of the primary supermarket chains in Belgium, are starting an experiment where they will sell unusually shaped vegetables at a cheaper price than the regular shaped ones we tend to buy. For years, common wisdom was that we all like to buy carrots which are roughly the same size, tomatoes which are round and potatoes which are easy to peel. This test challenges that. It asserts that customers now care more about reducing waste and protecting the environment than the aesthetics of their vegetables. Would you pay 30% less for these vegetables?
Is this a public relations exercise or are Delhaize really trying to connect with their customers by adopting a policy which favours waste reduction over profit? To be credible, it needs to be sustainable. This is what led to the creation of the “Fair Trade” mark which Starbucks and others have adopted.
Customers care about whether the companies they buy from, share their values and are looking to create positive social and environmental impact.
Selling is no longer enough
Another example of how companies are adapting to the changing needs of their customers is Mr. Bricolage. Their business is to sell DIY tools. They recently launched their own sharing and rental platform to enable their customers to borrow and exchange things between them:
This move is pretty revolutionary as they may well end up accelerating the commoditisation of their core business by enabling people to rent and borrow from each other, rather than buy from Mr Bricolage. The reason they are doing so is because they have understood that if they don’t, others will. There are already a number of start-ups that enable people to share and rent things from each other so this will grow, with or without Mr Bricolage. They have also understood that in an increasingly competitive market place, building communities around your business is a good way of protecting it. They are embracing disruptive innovation rather than avoiding it and hoping its a trend which will disappear.
Customers are looking for new ways to get access to what they need other than buying it. This is driving the growth of collaborative consumption.
There are lots of other examples such as the recent announcement by ING related to starting a FinTech village in Brussels http://trends.levif.be/economie/high-tech/avec-le-fintech-village-ing-veut-aider-les-start-up-specialisees-dans-la-technologie-financiere/article-normal-405895.html This is moving in a similar direction to KBC who launched their own crowdfunding platform https://bolero-crowdfunding.be/nl . BMW are also offering car sharing in the US to tap into the growing need of customers to share rather than own their own vehicle.
The collaborative economy is creating all sorts of new opportunities for both start-ups but also existing companies. It is developing rapidly outside of Belgium and I’m happy to see many established brands in Belgium are slowly starting to react to the change. We still need to see how we, the consumers, react to these initiatives and what choices we will make about who we decide to do business with.