â€œIf death ever crosses my path, just in caseâ€¦it shall stare me in the eye and say, you still have lives to cheer up, so stay!â€
The biggest fear for a human being is the realisation that one is living beyond ones purpose and relevance. And for a brand, the fear gets compounded as there is a business, jobs and livelihoods at stake. Along with fear comes embarrassment and feeling of emptinessâ€¦a complete loss of bearing and reason to exist.
But death is definite. Whatever is born, shall perish. That is the law of nature and nothing can change it. Not even for the seemingly most powerful products, services and brands. The name may be the same for last century or two, but the business offering in terms of the product or service or customer benefit would have certainly changed. Peugeot started 200 years back making salt and pepper millsâ€¦today they are tackling the next challenge in mobility.
Brands suddenly seem closer to death when their very core offering loses relevance. Remember Motorola and pagers. Or Kodak and films. Also IBM and hardware! Unless they can see the â€˜end-of-lifeâ€™ of what they offer and act accordingly, like IBM did, they perish, or at least get a haemorrhage when their core offering perishes. The bigger the success, the greater the brand is a victim of its own device and more painful is the process.
There are 7 such products and services around us that, according to me, are on their path of perishâ€¦just waiting to die. Brands that have been built on these seven had better decide what they would do in the next 10 years, as death is staring them in the face right now.
I am not a soothsayer, but I am a keen observer first and an active consumer second, to make this prediction. Here are the seven, in alphabetical order, for my powers are not acute enough to place them in chronological order of their demise.
People need to know about the choice within their budget in terms of reviews and endorsements. That can be done on their devices. People need an experience of feeling and driving the automobile before they make the final choice. That can be done at their doorstep. People need hassle-free documentation, warranties and deals. Again at their doorstep. So, where is the need of a brick and mortar showroom anymore? It is a waste of money, prime real estate and the time of the customer. What will be needed is the service centre or workshop. No more these boring glass and steel structures that automakers force upon customers and actually make them pay for these edifices through the cost of the product.
Automakers that really want to be remain connected with tomorrowâ€™s customer, needs to focus and invest in experiences and not showrooms. Those that are still in the stupor of opening new channels and chains are wasting time and resources. Simple.
You either take photographs to be further used in social networking, or you take photographs as it is your profession or passion. For the former you have the integrated phone device or a â€˜phabletâ€™ and for the latter you have high-end professional cameras. If you are stuck in the middle, still making compact cameras, somebody needs to click you and hang you on the nearest wall, for posterity.
Dedicated music device
Gone are the days when you had one device set aside for storing and playing music. Now you just need to play music, as the cloud can store it. And if you are a bit nervy about cloud-bursts, you just need to have a device that stores and plays music along with a lot more stuff it does. MP3 players anyone?
Just like the music devices, dedicated gaming devices will be gone. Poof! Kids will not have to queue up any more for their new Xbox or Nintendo. They will have to only pay online for the new games, on the go, and they are ready for combat. No more hardware for gamesâ€¦only soft skills.
I pay a lot for a car and then I need to invest more in getting it fully connected?! That will be a thing of the past. Cars need to work as the â€˜enablerâ€™ for the driver or passenger to be connected to the outside world, be it navigation, music, news, traffic updates, vehicle monitoring, surfing or â€˜platooningâ€™ [where clusters of cars are interconnected on the highway to perform better, safer and more efficiently]. The user shall choose his / her own device[s] that are common to all usesâ€¦at home, office and travel. The car salesperson shall no longer proudly show the range of audio systems or a new Bluetooth device to a new car buyer. That will be seen in news reels of the years gone by. Not the years to comeâ€¦
What a wasteâ€¦wires! When we could link up devices through sensors. One big hub in the electrical socket and multiple USB-driven sensors that carry electricity and information. Life becomes much simpler and sustainable. Use wires only where critically needed for uninterrupted supply, but otherwise go completely wireless. Tomorrowâ€™s generation will not like carrying wire-loads in their backpacks as they traverse the earth. Never!
A dedicated accessory just to tell you the time!! Pretty luxurious, is what tomorrowâ€™s generation will say. People will wear devices on their wristsâ€¦and they will converge a lot of activities on that little one square inch piece of engineering, along with telling time. Dedicated wristwatches will cater to either the bottom end of the pyramid [where people will not earn enough to buy a device] or right at the top where they will become pieces of jewellery and decoration, rather than any function. Brands that right now cater to the large middle segment like a Tissot, Titan and Timex need to decide what to do. A G-shock should evolve into a full-fledged device as it already is multi-functional. A TAG could transform into digital timing and measurement devices. In their present form, they would be quite anachronisticâ€¦literally!
I shall be keenly waiting for 2025. To see how many I got right. Will you?