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The folks at New Equipment Digest interviewed me a few weeks back for an article on manufacturing,  ahead of a major keynote I had earlier this month.

You’ll have a 50-year old guy or lady in the factory, and you bring these tools to help streamline processes and they say, “Oh my God! This is terrible that can take my job away. I’m done; I’m toast.” And somebody in their 20’s is going to say, “cool.” It’s a much more agile workforce, much more willing to try new things.

It’s but one talk I do in this sector; on Monday, I’ll headline the International Asset Management Council on future manufacturing trends. They’re the folks from Fortune 1000 organizations who make the decisions on where to locate future factories, logistics locations and supply chain investments.

INDUSTRY TRENDS
Futurist Says “Fast & Furious” Changes Coming to Manufacturing

Forget your Magic 8-Ball or fancy-schmancy predictive analytics. Futurist Jim Carroll knows what lies ahead for manufacturing and technology, and we have the scoop for you here. Bet you didn’t see that coming.
John Hitch | Sep 21, 2017

Jim Carroll, a former accountant and current author/corporate speaker, is confident he knows what’s going to happen in the world of manufacturing. And the world renowned Canadian futurist doesn’t need a flux capacitor or any other sci-fi MacGuffin to make bold claims in front of millions about what technologies they need to adopt now, and what the world will look like for our children after we’re rocketed to our Martian retirement homes — where our corpses will no doubt be used as fertilizer for space yams. (You’re welcome, Elon.)

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At the end of the month, I’ll be the opening keynote speaker for the Camstar Global Conference 2014, in Orlando, Florida.

I will be focused on the theme of the acceleration of product life cycles, the need for new, fast paced manufacturing methodologies, and the issue of what happens as every industry is aligned to the velocity of Moore’s Law.

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Camstar Systems, Inc. announced today that future trends and innovation expert Jim Carroll will deliver the keynote address at Camstar Global Conference, April 27-30, 2014 …… Carroll will lay the framework for the conference theme and kick off a packed agenda consisting of multiple tracks, manufacturing industry trends, case studies, invaluable learning and networking opportunities, a Partner pavilion and an Expert Lab.

I’ve been speaking in the manufacturing sector for ages. And it’s been kind of fascinating to watch, what with the prognostications in 2009 and 2010 that North American manufacturing was ‘dead.’

Take a look around now, and it’s obvious a significant and profound renaissance is underway. Just like I was saying on stage way back then….

What’s the key to the renaissance? Smart technologies that realign the manufacturing process. Rapid prototyping and rapid development. Mass customization to a market of one. Agility, flexibility, and redesign of manufacturing methodology. You name it — there’s a lot of opportunity for organizations to re-invent themselves.

This is what people lose sight of when an industry sector turns down, as it did in late 2008 and 2009. People instantly focus on the negative, and assume the worst is yet to come.

I never do that — I’m always looking into every industry for the bright side; the innovators; the people who are thinking and dreaming big on how to re-invent and renew a sector — and most important, the significant intelligent opportunities that are providing an opportunity for an industry to do things in a way that haven’t been done before.

And this touches people — at one manufacturing event during the downturn, one manufacturing CEO was so inspired  that during the Q&A section, he asked if I might consider running for President! I’d love to, but….

To learn more about my thoughts on the world of manufacturing, hit the Manufacturing Trends section of my Web site over on the right.


International Futurist Jim Carroll to Keynote at Camstar Global Conference 2014

Global authority to link future trends to innovation, creativity, and rapid business transformation.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (November 14, 2013) – Camstar Systems, Inc. announced today that future trends and innovation expert Jim Carroll will deliver the keynote address at next year’s Camstar Global Conference, April 27-30, 2014 at The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes in Orlando, Florida.

A leading international futurist, Carroll is widely recognized as a thought leader and authority on global trends, rapid business model change, business transformation during economic uncertainty and the necessity for fast-paced innovation. He is an author, columnist, media commentator and consultant with a focus on linking future trends to innovation and creativity. His previous speaking engagements include events for Lockheed Martin, Stryker Technologies, Johnson & Johnson, Siemens, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), among others.

The Camstar Global Conference is an opportunity for Camstar customers to join other global leaders in manufacturing including thought leaders, analysts, and partners. Carroll will lay the framework for the conference theme and kick off a packed agenda consisting of multiple tracks, manufacturing industry trends, case studies, invaluable learning and networking opportunities, a Partner pavilion and an Expert Lab.

“This signature event engages manufacturers of all sizes in all locations with industry leading discussions on Camstar products, future direction and best practices to meet today’s manufacturing challenges head on,” said Scott Toney, CEO of Camstar.

Toney said he is very pleased to announce Jim Carroll as the keynote speaker. “Carroll will challenge our audience to broaden their perspective on the issues rapid change, hyper innovation and future growth opportunities’. He is renowned as a ‘thought leader’ and authority on global trends; some of the world’s leading organizations turn to Mr. Carroll for insight into the future trends and innovation.”

“World-class innovators possess a relentless focus on growth,” said Jim Carroll. “They continually transition their revenue source through relentless product and service reinvention and solve customer problems before the customer knows there’s a problem. They focus on upside down innovation by sourcing innovation ideas through their customers and focus on long-term wins through constant incremental improvements. Carroll will also share his perspective on why right now is a great time to make bold decisions and do great things.”

To learn more and register visit the Camstar Global Conference 2014 website.

I haven’t done of these posts in a while — it’s a semi-regular summary of 10 of the most recent search phrases that resulted in people discovering information in my blog through the last week.

It’s a useful way to see what people around the world might be thinking about, or some of the issues that are top of mind. It’s also a great way to discover some of the unique blog posts throughout my site — with well over 1,000, there’s a lot of useful content in here that you might not find.

You might consider buying a copy of my book, The Future Belongs To Those Who are Fast — it’s a great compendium of the best of these posts from over 10 years of blogging!

You can see some other What’s Hot entries here.

I use some fabulous Web site tracking software — notably Woopra and OpenTracker — both of which give me *real time* insight into what people are discovering on my site, so it’s pretty easy to pull this information together. Here we go:

  • a search for “what trends are driving today’s consumer” led to the Consumer & food category of my blog; it leads to a whole series of blog posts that focus on these issues
  • someone in India looking for “innovations in retail” was led to the post “Creativity, trends and innovation in retail, packaging and consumer goods“, a post from 2005 that still bears powerful relevance to what is happening in these sectors today
  • from South Africa, a search for “futuristic trends in agriculture” led to “10 Big Trends for Agriculture” — a post I wrote many years ago but which continues to be one of the most popular pages on my Web site. And even though it was written in 2005, it still remains powerfully relevant today. I do a LOT of keynotes in the agricultural sector
  • over in Belgium, someone was looking at Google for “new trends in fitness and wellness.” They hit a relatively new post I did earlier this year, “Trend Report: The Future of Health, Fitness and Wellness
  • from Cincinatti, a search for “latest trends in the property and casualty insurance industry” led to “The insurance industry in 2015” , a concise overview of how this industry is undergoing dramatic and fast paced change
  • in Indiana, someone searching for “10 ways to kill innovation (or what not to do)” found the blog post “10 Surefire Ways to Destroy Innovative Thinking,” one of the most favourite blog posts I’ve ever written
  • a search for “fast food industry trends” from someone in Louisiana led to my blog post, “The BIG food industry trend for 2012: Bold Goals, Big Bets
  • If only I had a dollar for each search done where people from the US end up on my site for information on future healthcare trends. A search from a major US pharma company for “key trends business us healthcare market led to “10 major health care / pharmaceutical trends, a really concise summary of the scientific, technological and other trends that are transforming the sector
  • Just moments after this search, someone from Florida was looking for “future healthcare trends , and they were led to a more comprehensive detailed post that gets a lot of traffic, Healthcare 2020: The Transformative Trends That Will REALLY Define Our Future
  • and from the Philippines, a search for the phrase “Leaders are innovative and future – oriented. They focus on getting the job done” led to my blog post, “How future ready is your organization?” It provides some good insight on whether your organization is clearly aligned for what comes next — or is simply stuck in the here and now.

That’s 10 search phrases — and a simple summary of some great insight. Stayed tuned — more “What’s Hot” posts to come!

If you want to track analytics on your own Web site, I highly recommend both Woopra and OpenTracker. Fascinating insight!

From my keynote earlier this year at the International Dairy, Deli and Bakery Association, a clip that outlines faster change — in consumer taste trends, societal change, technology — drives the need for speed being the new success factor in the food industry in terms of retail.

The clip certainly ties in to what is one of the most popular pages on my Web site: “Food Industry Trends 2011: Report from a a keynote.”  Watch the above, and then read the post – you’ll find the link below.

As we wind down 2011, it’s a good time to reflect on some of the events I highlighted this year. It proved to be quite the year year, with many fascinating events where I opened or closed a large scale conference or corporate meeting with a keynote address.

One of Jim's key themes is the opportunities of the future - at one in Las Vegas, one fellow was so inspired by the message that he asked Jim when he might consider running for President of the United States. Click to watch!

As we approach the end of the year, everyone turns their attention to 2012 — and begins to wonder “what comes next?” All of my clients are focused on that theme when they engage me for a keynote or corporate workshop — and so a sense of what they were thinking about in 2011 gives you a good sense of what’s going to be important in 2012!

Some of the highlights from this year includes these events:

  • CSC Executive Exchange 2011, St. Andrews, Scotland. A small, intimate, invitation only event where I shared keynote duties with Jimmy Wales, the Founder of WikiPedia. I had CEO’s, CIO’s and CFO’s of some pretty major global organizations. Key theme: “The Next Wave of Digital Game-Changers” – I took a look at how every industry is soon to be caught up in Silicon Valley velocity, as technological comes to change every industry at lightening speed.
  • McKesson IdeaShare 2011, San Francisco, California. Changing roles, changing opportunities. I open this annual event with a message for 4,500 pharmacist / owners that with significant challenges and change in the world of healthcare and retail, the time is ripe for them to innovate with their role and their methods because their has never provided a bigger time for opportunity. The big theme: “Healthcare 2020: The Transformative Trends That Will REALLY Define Our Future.” This proved to be a huge topic for this year, and continues into 2012, as people come to seek insight on what will really happen in the world of healthcare beyond the current political rhetoric.
  • Multi-Unit Franchising Conference 2011, Las Vegas. I share the stage with Sean Tuohy, subject of the Blind Side, who owns quite a few franchise operations on his own. The focus in my keynote is on the fast changes occurring in the world of retail with consumers, technology, advertising and branding, social networking – you name it all!
  • US Air Force Research Laboratory, Dayton, Ohio: This group, which controls the entire research budget for the Air Force, brings me in to open a conference in which they examine new opportunities and methodologies for innovative thinking. Fascinating audience, and indicative of the fact that every organization realizes that the world is changing so fast that a lot of traditional assumptions about innovation and R&D are changing at lightening speed!
  • Consumer Goods Technology Magazine 2011 , Orlando, Florida. The pre-eminent conference for packaged goods, food and consumer products companies, with a huge number of Fortune 500 executives. My theme focuses on ‘what world class innovators do that others don’t do‘, particularly to keep up with changing consumers, mobile technologies, social networks and a variety of other trends. It leads to a blog post by one fellow, “Some mind blowing stats from Jim Carroll ….” Big themes: “Mobile, Social, Location!
  • Maple Leaf Foods, Toronto, Canada. A blog post, “Food industry trends 2011; Report from a keynote” was based on this talk. This blog post is now one of the first search results for anyone searching for anything having to do with food trends — and is now easily the most trafficked Web page on my site. After health care, food trends is probably the second busiest topic area for the year.
  • T. Rowe Price 2011 Investment Symposium. 600 investment managers, senior executives and CEO’s. The other keynotes are Colin Powell and Charlie Cook. My job is to close this two day event with an inspirational, motivational message based on the theme “When Do We Get to Normal? Why Thinking BIG Will Help You Seize The Opportunities of the 21st Century.”
  • World Pharma Innovation Congress, London, UK. I’m honored to open this renowned global conference on innovation within their crucial sector – most of the global heavy hitters from the world of pharma and bio-science are in the room. Opportunities for growth and innovation are coming from hyper-science, opportunities for externally sourced innovation insight, and the big global ‘idea machine’ that is revolutionizing opportunities for innovative thinking.
  • Interactive Manufacturing Exchange, Las Vegas, Nevada. A massive highlight from September — with a dinner keynote for 600 major manufacturing executives, and a morning keynote for 1,000 more. My keynote focus is that there is plenty of room for growth in the North American manufacturing sector, given the tremendous advances that have occurred with methodology and technology. My message must have resonated — after my talk, one fellow got up during the Q&A and asked if I would consider running for President of the US!
  • DSSI Forum, San Antonio, Texas. One of the largest seniors care conferences in the US. I spoke at length and with passion about the big opportunities for innovative thinking in the sector, particularly in light of the big challenges that society faces. This was a very personal event; those who know me well know that we have learned quite a bit about the challenges society faces with Alzheimer’s as a close family member has suffered from the disease.
  • Lockheed Martin, Washington, DC. I’m asked to speak at their 2011 global HR conference. The organization is aligning itself to deal with fast paced change in ever sector of its operations: my theme is what companies are doing o achieve “skills agility”, and why the issue of “deploying the right skills at the right time for the right purpose” is an increasingly important model for the future.
  • Pearson 2011. The future of education. A talk that linked key future trends to the need for massive, transformation thinking in the world of knowledge delivery. Noted one attendee: “Jim Carroll gave a particularly poignant keynote address about the need for true, innovative thinking.  (Think of a 5 year mission on steroids…)”
  • Bombardier Global Operators Conference. The future of corporate and leisure travel. Manufacturing innovation. Consumer change, and the impact of mobility. A wide ranging talk that challenges global airline operators to think about innovation in every aspect of their operations.
  • Fairmont / Raffles Hotels International. A corporate event, focused on the future of the global meetings and events industry. Key theme: organizations will increasingly require short, sharp shocks of knowledge delivery — corporate meetings and events are a big part of this trend, and are a key part of the short term strategic planning cycles that organizations are focused upon.
  • Texas CattleFeeders Association, Amarillo, Texas. The 2nd of two major talks for the cattle/beef industry in the US. Earlier in the year, I opened a private event that had in the room the top 100 cattle ranchers from across the country – representing a  multi-billion dollar investment. My keynotes focus on the significant opportunities for growth in the agricultural industry.
  • International Foundation 57th annual Employee Benefits Congress, New Orleans, LA. A morning keynote for 4,500 people at 730AM in New Orleans — and they all show up, confirming that description that “what I do for a living is go out and talk to large groups of hungover people.” It’s a rousing talk on the theme of Healthcare 2020: Today’s Trends, Tomorrow’s Opportunities
  • Linde Health Group, Munich, Germany. Global opportunities in the world of healthcare – how do we link future trends to opportunities for growth.

There were quite a few other keynotes for associations, government and corporations. In addition to these high profile engagements, which featured audiences of up to 6,000, I also hosted a number of small CEO level events. In one case in Washington, I spent the morning with a small group of 15 CEO’s/CIO’s/CFO’s in a boardroom style setting, where we explored the opportunities for growth that coming from linking future trends to innovative thinking.

Advance bookings for 2012 are exceedingly strong — so far, I know I’ll be in Palm Springs, Tampa, Orlando, Phoenix, Aspen, New Orleans (x2), San Antonio and many other locations.

Think growth. Think opportunity. Think trends. Think positive!

I haven’t done of these posts in a while — it’s an observation of 10 of the most recent search phrases that resulted in people discovering information in my blog through the last week.

It’s a useful way to see what people around the world might be thinking about, or some of the issues that are top of mind. You can see some other What’s Hot entries here.

I’ve got some fabulous new Web site tracking software — notably Woopra and OpenTracker — both of which give me *real time* insight into what people are discovering on my site, so it’s pretty easy to pull this information together.

Here we go:

    • a search for “food product trends marketing” from Ireland resulted in someone hitting what is currently one of the most heavily visited pages on my Web site — “Food industry trends 2011 – Report from a keynote“. Literally a few hundred hits a day!
  • from Bangalore, India, a search for “healthcare industry trends presentation” led to the page “Healthcare 2020: The Transformative Trends That Will REALLY Define Our Future“, also one of the most popular pages on my site. What is evident is that people find a tremendous amount of value in the detailed trends outlines as found in this type of post and the previous food industry post — there are a lot of these scattered throughout my blog covering a wide range of industries. Try the Trends link for a list by industry.
  • another popular search concerns the future of the meetings and events industry. From San Diego this morning, a search for “event industry 2012 trends” led to the post “Future of the meetings / events industry
  • from Singapore, a search for “characteristics of the 21st century” led to the post “10 Unique Characteristics of 21st Century Skills” which is a useful guide to the key HR issues that you are facing now and into the future
  • on the HR theme, it’s kind of funny that someone in Larisa, Greece, did a search this morning for “Jobs of the future 2015“, which took them to the post “Good jobs in Bad Times – I’m interviewed on PBS on future career trends“. Maybe it will help to inspire someone for post-Greek economic meltdown HR innovation!
  • from Kenya, a search for “importance of innovation to consumers” led to the post “The importance of innovation in the era of the “new normal.” This post is a good summery of the key factors which require fast paced innovation today.
  • from Malaysia, someone searching for “future ready organization” hit the post, “How future ready is your organization?”. I wrote that in 2009 – and write about the velocity ratio, the rate of ‘rising tides’ and other factors that might give you a sense of whether your organization is keeping up with the speed of innovation occurring in your industry.
  • out in Madras, India, a search for the phrase “innovation themes for wealth management technology” led to a post that summarized my 2009 keynote for the National Australia Bank – “14 Key Innovation Strategies for Financial Advisors & Financial Organizations”
  • from North Carolina in the US, a search for “bioengineered body parts” odd to the post from 2006, “Bio-engineered body parts, the Cold Store and personalized medicine…” Consider what I wrote in 2006! “The pill bottle linked into my home network grid in order to interact with the prescription drug company. They had specifically engineered this medicine the day before for my own bio-code, based on a quick sampling of my blood and sinus condition that was done at the local Cold Store.”
  • last but not least, someone in Las Vegas did a search this morning for the phrase “things you have to do in vegas during the recession.” That took them to a great post that still works with the current and ongoing volatility in the global economy, “10 Things You Need to Do to Innovate in a Recession

That’s 10 search phrases — and a simple summary of some great insight. Stayed tuned — more “What’s Hot” posts to come!

If you want to track analytics on your own Web site, I highly recommend both Woopra and OpenTracker. Fascinating insight!

Fresh from my keynote in Orlando this week, I’ve come across a blog post from someone who attended, and saw my early-Monday keynote – “‘Breakthrough performers’ and ‘pervasive connectivity’: Notes from the CGT Business & Technology Leadership Conference.”

"Leading international author and “futurist,” Jim Carroll, delivered the keynote address, capturing the audience’s attention with some mind-blowing stats on the rapid pace of change and innovation in the technology space."

You can read the full post by Sean Rollings, Vice President, Product Marketing over at the E2open blog, or read an extract below.

In the room were senior executives from many of the largest consumer product and food companies in the world; indeed, I was dazzled from the presentation of a senior executive from PepsiCo who took to the stage right after me with his observations on what is happening in the consumer space.

The essence of my message in Orlando was modelled on the themes found in these two blog posts:

  • “What do world class innovators do that others don’t do?” 
  • “Food industry trends 2011: Report from a keynote” 

I can tell you that these two pages are among the top-10 most heavily trafficked on my Web site, and so obviously there are a lot of senior executives in the food and consumer products sector who realize that when it comes to innovation, one of their key goals must be, how do we speed things up to deal with the reality of fast-paced consumer, technological, market, product, and global change.

“Breakthrough performers” and “pervasive connectivity”: Notes from the CGT Business & Technology Leadership Conference
Sean Rollings, Vice President, Product Marketing, E2open

 I made my way to the Sunshine State this week for the Consumer Goods Business & Technology Leadership Conference in Orlando. The turnout is impressive, with technology and supply chain professionals from all the major players in the CPG space (plus a number of up-and-comers). And while the keynote sessions and panel discussions cover a gamut of topics, everyone is really here for the same thing: learning and collaborating on the “what’s next” for technology and the consumer goods business.

Leading international author and “futurist,” Jim Carroll, delivered the keynote address, capturing the audience’s attention with some mind-blowing stats on the rapid pace of change and innovation in the technology space. According to Carroll, recent research indicates that 65 percent of current preschool students will work in a job that does not yet exist. Along the same lines, 50 percent of the information taught to first-year Science undergraduates will be obsolete by the time they graduate.

The business-related statistics were no less shocking. For example, roughly 60 percent of Apple’s revenue is currently generated by products that are less than four years old. The rate of innovation is accelerating, big time. And from Carroll’s perspective (and the evidence is convincing), the only way to stay competitive in today’s marketplace is to embrace the current onslaught of change and innovation—and run with it!

In keeping with this theme, Carroll shared a compelling piece of research from GE innovation consultants: Of those companies in existence during the economic recessions of the 70s, 80s, 90s, and our most recent “Great Recession”—on average—60 percent survived, 30 percent died, and 10 percent became breakthrough performers. How did this top-10 percent do it? According to Carroll, these companies succeeded because they invested in world-class innovation while everyone else was retrenching. For the “breakthrough performers” of our most recent recession, this innovation has been largely focused on pervasive connectivity—everyone connected to everyone, regardless of geographic location or technical sophistication.

The GE study that I refer is a theme that I use in many presentations — you can catch a glimpse of how I put the reality of innovating despite economic uncertainty in this video clip from a keynote in San Antonio, Texas, earlier this year.

 

It’s been a whirlwind of activity over the last two months, with about 20 major keynotes under my belt.

One of these was a corporate event for a food company with $7 billion in revenue and 24,000 employees ; my talk was on the key food industry trends of today that should be driving innovation from a marketing, product development and branding perspective.

Jim Carroll on stage at the Readers Digest Food and Entertainment Group Summit, in front of several hundred food and consumer product executives, advertising agencies, grocery and retail organizations and publishers of the world's most popular food magazines, speaking to the trends driving the food industry today, .

This is one of many events I do for food and consumer product clients – my global client list includes high profile keynotes or leadership meetings for the Readers Digest Food & Entertainment Division (the publisher of such innovative magazines as Everyday with Rachel Ray), the Produce Marketing Association Annual Fresh Summit, HJ Heinz, Nestle , FMC FoodTechnologies, Burger King, Yum! Brands and many more.

I was the keynote speaker for a meeting of their top 250 marketing executives; my mandate was to focus on how to innovate around the trends that are today impacting the food industry today, with a particular focus on consumer behaviour.

Below are a few of the many trends that I spoke about. I took on an extensive amount of research for this keynote, which is typical of how I approach these events.

In effect, I built my keynote around the theme “….these are the trends that will drive your brands……”, and from that, they could best learn how to change and innovate with their branding and marketing message.

1. Biggest trend: We are witnessing a changing relationship with food

My main observation is that we live in a period of time that sees consumers interacting with food, the purchasing of food, and the consumption of food in new and different ways.

An article, Observer Food Monthly in the Guardian Newspaper, 15 May 2011 caught this sentiment perfectly:

  • “… never before has our culture been so engaged in discussing and experimenting with and agonizing over and fantasizing about and plain enjoying what is on the end of our forks”

Consider what is happening:

  • we have a new form of interaction when purchasing food. Consider the number of iPhone apps by which we can research calorie counts, nutrition facts and other information while in the grocery store.
  • we have new influencers in how we make these in-store food decisions. Think about the Monterrey Aquarium Seafood Watch iPhone app, which will give you background that can help you with your ethical food decisions.
  • a change in how we manage our food intake. iPhone and Web sites apps such as Lose It, which allow us to track our food consumption on a calorie-by-calorie, product by product basis.
  • a change in food packaging: ““…..interactive packaging, intelligent and active packaging, multi-sensory packaging, edible packaging … packaging as mini-billboards…” as noted by the research firm Reportlinker. Paackaging is going from passive to active, and is becoming more than just the vehicle for branding – increasingly, it is defining our relationship with the food.
  • a change in our food relationships. Consider the impact of food traceability based on DNA. “Tonning’s restaurant is among more than 11,000 that Richmond-based food distributor Performance Food Group is supplying with DNA-traceable beef as an added value for customers of its premium Braveheart brand. The company, which has annual revenues of about $11 billion, said it is among the first distributors to use the technology.” Where’s the beef, Iowa Press Citizen, May 2011
  • A more direct involvement with the ethics of food. “Wal-Mart, which sells more than 20 per cent of all US groceries, is developing an eco-labelling program that will give a green rating to all items sold in its 7500 stores worldwide.” Unlikely alliance, Sydney Morning Herald, February 2011
  • and very significant transitional trends. Whole grains are the hottest trend in sliced bread, with whole wheat edging out soft white bread in total sales for the first time……… The whole-grain craze has, after all, raised the bar on what consumers are willing to pay for bread that’s perceived as healthy…..” Grains gain ground; Focus on healthy eating helps wheat surpass white in sliced bread sales 1 August 2010, Chicago Tribune

All in all, these are pretty significant, systemic, long term transformative trends that will have a major impact through the next 5-10 years. Smart food companies will recognize that the very nature of our relationship with food is changing and will innovative around that reality. Massive opportunities for innovative thinking exist here!

2. A need to respond to faster consumer preference/taste change

I’ve long been pointing out that consumer preference is changing faster when it comes to food, and that leads to the rapid emergence of new opportunity, or the rapid decline of existing product lines. A few of my observations:

  • behavioural change and food as fashion! Fresh-cut snack food grew from $6.8 billion in to $10.5 billion in one year. Notes one publication: “Snacks are like a fashion category…..People want a change. it’s going to be short-lived–maybe a quarter, maybe six months, then changed out” Private Label Buyer, May 2010.
  • We spend more of our day with our food – it’s not just breakfast, lunch and dinner anymore. Canadian consumers are snacking more frequently. Snacks were 24% of all “meals” consumed by 2010. Fruit leads in the category, and healthy snacks are driving growth – the top 7 snacks include yogurt and granola bars.
  • Food categories can explode in growth over night. US Greek Yogurt sales grew from $33million in 2007 to $469 million today!

The key point with all of these trends is that it reflects our busy, compressed lives — smart food companies will continue to learn how to innovate within that reality with new products, aligning themselves to health concerns, and other trends.

3. The impact of business model change and social networks on food and taste trends

Business model change with pop-up restaurants drives the more rapid emergence of new exotic tastes and flavors!

Clearly, massive connectivity is coming to influence the growth of new foods, brands, tastes, patterns.

I spoke, for example, how bacon has quickly become so trendy as something used to enhance countless recipes. It can be traced right back to an effective social networking campaign.

  • “If there’s one food trend that illustrates how top-down and grassroots phenomena combine it might be bacon….. in southern California about six years ago, Rocco Loosbrock paired peppered bacon with Syrah wine at a tasting….”swine and wine…..!” The mysteries of food trends: How bacon got its sizzle, Associated Press Newswires, March 2011
Social networks are also lining up with a change in business models in the restaurant sector, which helps to drive faster change in consumer taste trends…..
  • In the last few years, we’ve seen an explosion in the number of pop-up restaurants and “Eat St” food – street food!
  • what is happening here is a lower barrier to entry in terms of new restaurant start up cost — more people can get out and start out a restaurant as “street food”, and experiment with new, bold, and exotic tastes and flavors
  • there’s also a very big trend underway that links restaurants and markets together in one location. Go to the restaurant, like the food and want to cook it at home next time? Visit the market in the same building, and buy the exact ingredients for that exact recipe. We call these Resto 2.0’s : for example, Murray’s Market in Ottawa, based on locally farmed food, “….sells cheeses, meats, produce and house-made foodstuffs, providing customers with many of the same raw ingredients they use as their restaurant next door.” Globe & Mail, June 1, 2011
  • all of these trends involve a new breed of restaurateur / entrepreneur;  they’ve learned to link these efforts with very effective social network campaigns. The result is that we now have even faster emergence of new taste trends. Smart food companies will learn how to innovate around the sheer velocity of what is occurring here – ‘faster is the new fast!’

My key point? Innovation is all about time to market … and the brand message needs to match the new speed metric…

4. A new consumer volatility

Back in 2009, I keynote global events for both Burger King and Yum! Brands. One of the major points in both keynotes was the consumer and public health concerns would come to drive more of a focus on a healthier diet; hence, the need for more aggressive innovation around a balanced menu that offered up more healthier choices.

Since then, looking back, it looks like one chain took the message to heart, and the other didn’t. Can you guess which ones?

What’s happened since then? Restaurant chains — and by extension, food companies — are discovering that consumer activity has become very volatile. They might talk of the need to go out and eat healthier, but then go out and continue to buy big, fat juicy cheeseburgers.

But then the news continues to hammer home the cold realities of North American food lifestyles, and the impact of childhood obesity.

  • over the past 30 years, childhood obesity rates in North America have tripled
  • 1 in 3 children are overweight or obese
  • 1/3 of all children born in 2000 or later will suffer from diabetes at some point in their lives
  • many others will face chronic obesity-related health problems like heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, and asthma

Add to that new messages from Michelle Obama, Jamie Kennedy and other influencers around this debate — and all of a sudden, behaviour begins to change faster than people expect. Consider comments in the article Dining chains shape up menus ;Customers place low-cal orders now, 13 April 2011, USA Today

  • :Something odd is afoot in restaurants where Americans have typically gone to gorge: healthier grub. This nutritional U-turn is taking place at some of the unlikeliest of eateries, including Denny’s, IHOP, Friendly’s, Sizzler and even at the nation’s biggest casual dining chain, Applebee’s, where the numbers are eye-popping.
  • “For the first two months of 2011, the top-selling entree at Applebee’s wasn’t a gloppy burger or flashy fajita plate. It was a sirloin and shrimp entree from the chain’s diet menu. This marks the first time that a low-calorie item ever ranked as the chain’s best seller for a single month — let alone two in a row.
  • “I’ve been in the restaurant business for 30 years, and I’ve never seen anything like this,” says Mike Archer, president of Applebee’s.
  • “When Applebee’s launched the under-550-calorie menu in 2010, it didn’t immediately take off, says Archer. But after some tweaks, it caught fire early this year. It now accounts for up to 8% of sales”

8 percent of sales! For healthy options! The key innovation opportunity is to keep innovating with food and taste trends around trends such as health, local, regional. The consumer is volatile, and will change faster than ever before.

Key marketing and branding innovation points?

  • consumer behaviour is now more unpredictable than ever before!
  • sudden, dramatic shifts driven by sudden external influences or other pressures are the new reality
  • it’s easy to abandon marketing momentum / commitment due to slowness of trend (i.e. healthy lifestyle – consumers say one thing, and do another!)
  • yet success from ability to quickly rejig marketing message based on trend spikes – speed matters!

And  so branding innovation is … sticking to the message behind the key trends, even if the trends unfold at a curious and unpredictable pace….

I spoke about many other trends within the keynote, particularly the impact of mobile marketing and moving into hyper-nice marketing. I’ll cover more of that later.

This is typical of the type of unique research I often do for a keynote. If you are interested in bringing me in to a leadership meeting at your corporate organization, feel free to give me a call!

A semi-regular report of search phrases on JimCarroll.com

A few weeks ago, I began using the Reinvigorate.Net simple, real time web analytics & heatmaps” service on  my Website.

I thought it might be of interest to put in perspective, on a weekly basis, some of the things that people have been discovering on my site. With over 1,100 blog posts full of insight and content, there’s a lot of information in there!

So here’s the 2nd version of ‘search phrases’ that people were using this week — and the Web page on my site that the search engine directed them to.

Listed first is the search phrase; next is the page that they ended upon at my site.

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