Preparing for the Demand Revolution

In a world of increasingly instant gratification, what customers are demanding and how they want it is beginning to alter the way companies do business.

At the 2011 Sweets & Snacks Expo, Rick Kash of The Cambridge Group and author of How Companies Win, spoke on the changing landscape that operators and manufacturers must navigate as we enter what he called a “demand revolution.”

Kash noted we’ve seen three great business revolutions—two industrial revolutions followed by a technology revolution. Today, he noted, we’re in a demand revolution. To compete companies need to focus on demand first, supply second.

The Demand Revolution started with the introduction of Google, which put all information at our fingertips instantly, and grew with the release of GPS, which can in seconds tell us how to get us from one side of the country to the next, and soared with social media, which connects us instantly. Customers want, what they want, and they want it now without the confines of time and place. And answering that need are Tivo, Skype, Smart Phones and YouTube, making the confines and limitations of time and place less relevant and less necessary.

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“In the Demand Revolution, consumer demand will be formed, shaped, influenced, and satisfied in entirely new ways …Facebook…Twitter …Groupon…Social media is a technology, not a channel of communication …it changes countries, it changes companies, and if you understand it, it will propel careers and brands,” Kash noted, pointing to how 12 people in Egypt used social networking to start a revolution to overthrow a 30 year dictatorship in a powerful country of 80 million people in just 23 days, that then snowballed across the Middle East inspiring revolutions in neighboring countries. All signs, the way the world works is changing fast.

“Demand Revolution is more than a business and a human revolution, it is a geographic revolution, a gender revolution and a technology revolution,” Kash noted. Developing nations are growing and delving into new technologies. The role of women is changing with more women joining the workforce in various countries. U.S. college enrollment is now made up of 60% women.

In the Demand Revolution, business models, competition and strategies are all going to change and will impact all brands big and small. A demand chain, Kash noted, will take its place alongside the supply chain to be the new business model for the 21st Century. And collaborative networks between manufacturers, retailers, consumers and media will evolve and become vital to business.

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