By: Mary Beth McEuen
I had the opportunity to speak about “Delivering the Brand Promise from the Inside-Out” at last week’s Retailing Summit sponsored by Texas A&M. I felt very fortunate to speak alongside an impressive line-up of academic and business leaders including:Raj Sisodia, Author & Professor, Conscious Capitalism; John Mackey, co-CEO, Whole Foods Market;Tom Lamb, SVP Marketing, Lowes; andAlex Smith, CEO & President, Pier 1 Imports.
Alex Smith discussed the amazing turnaround of Pier 1 Imports. Tom Lamb talked about Lowe’s new and exciting “never stop improving” campaign that connects home improvement to life improvement along with leveraging the benefits of a big box retailer with the personalized approach of a main street hardware store. Raj Sisodia and John Mackey talked about Conscious Capitalism and how much capitalism has contributed to prosperity and growth throughout the world. What makes capitalism good is its basis in “voluntary exchange” based on mutual benefit. And, we can do better by adopting a more conscious approach to capitalism.
John Mackey put it this way, “a business is a human community and the highest ideals that motivate a human community must also motivate businesses.” Raj Sisodia talked about the significant trends that are driving the changing business landscape. The population is aging and as it does, our values systems are shifting. Increasingly, people are concerned with meaning, impact and purpose. Interestingly enough, IQ’s are rising — something known as the Flynn Effect. People are better educated, especially women. We are experiencing a feminization of the culture where people place greater value on collaboration, compassion, and relationships. This feminization phenomena is balancing out the competition, aggression, and conquering mentalities that have been predominant, especially in Western society and in the world of business. Additionally, as a society, we are better informed, better connected, and becoming more conscious and reflective of our thoughts and actions.
So, here is the challenge. Business is behind and needs to catch up. Society is shifting faster than the business practices with many still hunkered down and firmly attached to the transactional and control-oriented mindsets of the past century. Some businesses are “waking up” so-to-speak and beginning to shift. As they do, one of the very first things they must strive to understand and articulate is Why they exist. What do they believe in? What do they stand for? What is their purpose? As Tom Lamb shared, marketers have been very good at ‘the what’ and ‘the how.’ What we must now focus on is ‘the Why,’ and we must do this is a way that is authentic and credible.