2013, the year of the wake-up call

As published on Bloovi on January 23, 2014. In the light of Trends Night, Bloovi spoke with one of its speakers, Hakim Zemni. Hakim is Managing Director at InSites Consulting Belgium and already reveals some details of what he will talk about at Trends Night on February 4 in Antwerp (BE).

What are InSites Consulting’s great challenges for 2014?

This year our ambition lies in both widening and deepening our impact. For us, widening means expanding our geographic influence area. We already have successful and by now fully-developed branches in Rotterdam, London and New York, so InSites Consulting now hopes to continue this flow of international expansion to neighboring European countries and areas such as France, Germany, Italy, Scandinavia…
As for deepening, we mainly aim at our own Belgian home market: we want to increase our impact on companies and organizations even more and really go in-depth. We want to continue working on the consumer-centric thinking, further representing the consumer’s voice at the highest level.

We just saw the introduction to your presentation in this year’s Trend report, where you seem to think 2013 was a year of mixed blessings. Why is that?

2013 was definitely a year of wake-up calls. The years before that were inspired by, for example, the Big Data trend and thus the predictability of the consumer, but 2013 put a crack in this unrestrained trust. To me, Edward Snowden is Man of the Year, without a doubt. The NSA surveillance scandal that came to light made the consumer realize, more than ever, that personal online (and offline) data protection should and can be improved. This is confirmed by research which we conducted end of 2013 among youngsters all around the globe: they confirm to be regularly annoyed, harassed and even blackmailed online. We urgently have to find a solution for that.
The ’Social-media’ landscape also seems to splutter a bit as we’re growing out of the creative toddler years. After the unbridled competition and an entrepreneurial atmosphere of continuous start-ups, we now really see the consolidation, monopolization and above all buy-out policy of Google vs Facebook taking shape. Asking what that will bring us, is a good question. An even more important question, however, is how we as marketers should deal with this.
We also see that, in 2013, the ‘typicalconsumer more than ever feels the consequences of the economic crunch down of a few years ago. This is due to the delay on government decisions: if a government announces cost-cutting measures in 2010, it will take about three years before the consumer effectively feels the consequences of those measures.
Bottom-line: 2013 was a wake-up call for consumers. Of course there were some positive evolutions as well, one of which being a healthier global economic situation, but for the people the general feeling about 2014 will be determined by these sobering wake-up calls.

In your Trends Night introduction it says that you will talk about ‘From clever to intelligent’. What do you mean by that? Can you give a specific example?

Here’s an example: up till now it was clever, as a company, to invest hugely in ad-hoc co-creation with consumers. But people have become more demanding now. It will be more intelligent in the future to come to a real and above all continuous collaboration with consumers and to turn the ad-hoc thinking into something more structural. Something which does not stop after a given day, and, more importantly, something which is not limited to one single topic.
In 2014 every organization should aim for ‘co-everything’ with the consumer: so think of platforms and systems that – confidentially and transparently – enable a continuous and fruitful interaction with and between consumers, rather than going for a short-lived consumer brain-picking campaign.

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