Farnaz on Featured, Media Coverage, Multicultural Branding and Marketing, New World Trends, New Realities, Women, Emerging Power
Farnaz Wallace delivers a thought-provoking, motivational keynote about The New World Marketplace at 2012 Diversity Woman Business Leadership Conference in Washington DC on December 17, 2012. Here’s a short 3-minute clip of this speech:
The dynamic Farnaz Wallace, author of The New World Marketplace and CEO/Founder of Farnaz Global LLC, will be the opening keynote speaker at the Possible Woman Conference Wednesday April 24 at Atlanta Marriott Marquis. In its 17th year, Possible Woman is an inspiring conference that connects attendees with the growth possibilities in every woman.
Wallace joins international dance star Judith Jamison, choreographer and artistic director emerita of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, who will be the luncheon keynote speaker.
As a former Chief Marketing Officer with Church’s Chicken who drove five years of consecutive sales growth outpacing the category, Wallace coined the phrase The New World Marketplace to define how women, youth and multiculturalism are shaping our future. She is a provocative thinker and an insightful strategist who helps leaders and companies capitalize on cultural macro trends and define their brand’s value proposition and sustainable revenue models in today’s fast-changing marketplace.
Of Iranian background, Wallace immigrated with her family to Louisiana at the age 15. She uses the lessons learned by overcoming issues of ethnicity, gender, class, caste, religious, political, economic and lifestyle experiences to shape her vision and keep it alive. She believes in the spirit’s deep desire for freedom, self-determination and self-expressions to maintain an inner authenticity. She leads others to find authenticity within themselves, their companies and customers.
“Her whole life has been a Possible Woman experience!” said Linda Wind, CEO of Wind Enterprises®, organizer of the annual regional leadership conference. “Her ideas are fascinating and will help makePOWER. PURPOSE. PASSION. Possible Woman 2013 the most dynamic Possible Woman event yet!”
Happy new year. I really don’t know of anyone who is sad 2012 is over—are you? We’ve had another tough economic year filled with so many predictions and prophecies that didn’t come true–and some did. As we start 2013, pundits with crystal balls start forecasting trends everywhere…top 10, bottom10 …hey, I did my own last year. But this year, I realized that I’ve been among many reading and analyzing trends all year. What am I expecting or forecasting to happen as the clock turned at midnight on January 1st? Are we confusing trends and forecasts with new year’s resolutions, or simply creating a marketing need?
Unlike new year’s resolutions, most meaningful trends are long lasting, creating long term evolutionary changes. So this year, instead of adding to your long list of bookmarks of what’s hot and new, I’d like to give you 3 simple key issues that have been of critical importance these last few years that were ignored by most….and still remain critically important in 2013 and beyond. That isn’t to say that you should ignore trends and forecasts, but instead of staying glued to your rear-view mirror, you need to start using your peripheral vision and address these 3 key issues for your company in a meaningful way in 2013. What better way to predict the future than to create it yourself. Ignore and blow off at your own peril, but at least take a quick look:
Economy trumps other emotional needs: The world has been in an epic economic crisis since 2008. Economic forecasts may vary slightly from year to year, but a full recovery is still far away. More importantly, economy continues to be top of mind issue for people in general—not just business people concerned about taxes and fiscal cliff, but also consumers who want to know what your company can do to pitch in and make their lives a little easier. Unless you represent a luxury brand, you should get moving. You don’t have to be the giant Starbucks focusing on driving job creation through small business loans and housing financing…I don’t know how that program is working for them, but it’s highly visible and talked about. But at the very least, your marketing campaign should tie-in and relate to your consumers’ needs and expectations during tough economic times. Economy and price are no longer rational decisions, they are very much an emotional need and decision that needs to be addressed in a meaningful way in your marketing campaign. Simply dropping your price is as just as dangerous as passing all your operational cost increases to your customers. Price relative to your competition is a strategic decision that should not only accompany a re-evaluation of your delivery systems, but also a marketing communication strategy that tells the story of your brand relationship to your customers.
Step into The New World Marketplace: If you’ve ignored my top 3 major macro trends so far, you no longer can afford to do so in 2013. Women, youth and multiculturalism are shaping our future. If you were following our recent Presidential election closely, you’d know that despite our tough economy, these 3 macro trends led to President Obama’s re-election. Women are 50% of work force, 51% of population and control 85% of consumer buying decisions…Gen Y is 3x the size of Gen X, soon to be the majority of work force and your consumers, and the most diverse generation in human history….for every 2 men graduating from college, 3 women are and with better GPAs….1 out of 4 kids being born in the US has a parent who is an immigrant…multicultural population accounted for ALL of the US under-18 population growth in the last decade and in just 12 years (2025) more than half of US families will be multicultural (excerpts from The New World Marketplace). If you haven’t re-evaluated your target yet, do so now. Are you still treating women, youth and multiculturalism as a marketing niche or segmentation add-on?
Differentiate authentically: Growth of digital communications and technologies have changed the marketing game for some time now. We are continuing along that path, and there will always be something new every hour–and that’s not a new trend in 2013. Your consumers have so many choices, so many alternatives, and so much control, and they see the world so noisy that they can’t hear or see you. They are in hot pursuit of truth and authenticity and willing to engage with you if you are. Differentiation is always a strategic gate keeper for success, but it is no longer enough just to differentiate—because people and companies spin, exaggerate and lie. So the consumers may not believe you when you say you are better or different. Proof is only useful if it leads to belief. You have to gain their trust, attention and engagement by holding true to core values and principles through authenticity and transparency. Only then, you can change your customers’ beliefs and consumption behaviors…and are ready to chew gum and do social media at the same time.
I know…I know…. I gave you a list too, because I’m a marketer at heart and I want you to open and read my blogs (see I’m being authentic and transparent). But it’s only 3 things that you should remember….3 key issues that should’ve been addressed by now, and are critical for your success in 2013.
I often talk about “negating stereotypes”…..even devoted a category on my web site to it. Recently, I realized there are just as much stereotyping with Gen Y as there are with women and multiculturalism. There are obvious dangers with stereotyping millions and billions of people in to a few headlines. The opportunity here is to take research directionally, instead of replacing our insights—meaningful insights that only happen through relating, understanding and experiencing “people.”
Gen Y is often referred to as the lost generation battered by economy. One of the great articles, America’s screwed generation, shared great, shocking stats …. but just as the title suggests, painted a dark picture. Yes, the wealth gap between younger and older Americans is now the widest on the record. According to US Census, median net worth of young people under 35 fell 35% from 2005-2010, versus 13% for adults over 65. The older generation not only benefited from good economic timing, but they also are not retiring as early. Entry level positions are filled with experienced talent pool, making unemployment rates among Gen Y 50% above national average. Then there is their debt—from student loans to credit cards. Many stay in school just so they are not forced to start paying their student loans without a good job—or any job—so they incur more debt. It’s a doom loop, you see?
Inevitably, Gen Y has delayed adulthood in many milestones. According to a Pew study, one third have put off marriage and kids and a quarter moved back with their parents. There are other personal and cultural factors at play with this delay in adulthood (see my blog do you really know 20-somethings), but regardless, this can have major demographic implications in the decades to come. Twentysomething Inc report that 85% of new grads move back with parents to save on living costs while they job hunt. And when they are finally ready to move out, the prospects of “owning” a home is out of reach for so many. But home ownership, starting a family and other traditional milestones for adulthood are not life’s starting points for Gen Y.
Sure, no generation has suffered more from the recession than Gen Y. This has led into assumptions that are now backed by research data. But the world economy has been tough for a while now. Many members of Gen Y haven’t personally experienced the economic boom most of us have, or bitter about pay cuts, downsizing or outsourcing. They are experiencing the new normal in The New World Marketplace.
I see more positive signs amid all these negative statistics. I wonder how much of our own economic fears we project on to this generation. This is the unafraid, optimistic, tech savvy, educated, resourceful, and diverse generation who will know what works and what doesn’t…. greatly decreasing the collective learning curve. Culturally liberal, one third were raised by a single mother … so gender roles are blurred and multiculturalism is the norm. Gen Y men prove to be hopeless romantics .… young women earn more than men in big US cities ….. young women now top young men in valuing a high-paying career….these are just a few research examples of negative stereotypes when it comes to Gen Y.
Financial success, beyond necessities, is just one part of happiness….probably a small part. They are committed to find “meaningful” work and pay out student loans versus getting rich. Unlike previous generations, there is no shame in getting help from parents, but a luxury worth bragging about. Parental support, technology and rise of entrepreneurism provide this generation the freedom to pursue their hearts’ desires. And they will.
Despite all the labels and stereotypes (including my own), majority of work force will be filled by Gen Y by 2025—so, the current sluggish job market and steep student loans will not hold them back. It’s just the timing. More importantly, it will be about when, where and how work gets done that will bring forth the big cultural change. And the new values and ideological power of Gen Y will shape our future work force.
Vistage International interviewed Farnaz Wallace on November 6, 2012, to help their CEO members embrace and succeed in The New World Marketplace. Click here to listen to this informative 13 minute podcast.
• A Definition of the New World Marketplace
• The 3 Cultural Macro Trends that businesses must embrace
• Implications of Cultural of Shifts for CEOs and their businesses
• The Importance of Redefining Your Target Customers
• The Key Things That Companies Need to do Do to Succeed in Today’s Economy
• How to Create a Cultural and Emotional Connection with Target Customers
Last night was one of the most important nights in American history. Not just because it was another Presidential election night, but because an African American President with the most global multicultural background in one of the toughest economic climate won the second term. Because now we have record number of women Senators elected. Because among them were the first disabled woman, first openly gay woman and first Asian woman.
I was tweeting during election coverage last night about how women, youth and multiculturalism are shaping our future. Not just because this is the subhead title of my book, but because literally, these 3 major macro trends brought President Obama the re-election victory. Folks, it is The New World Marketplace and there are rapid cultural shifts redefining our mainstream culture. Let’s peek at a few key demographics:
- Romney found strong support among seniors, whites and men–no surprises
- Obama built an 11 ppt advantage among women with 55% support (down from 56 four years ago)
- Obama won 93% of African Americans (down from 95)
- Obama won 73% of Hispanics (up from 69)– with 44 ppt advantage over Romney (who secured 27%, down from 31%)
- Obama won only 39% of whites, down from 43% (this is the lowest white support for Democrats since 1992)
Surprises anyone? Not for me. The GOP’s gain of The New World Marketplace is shamefully low. Although national polling suggests that Romney is trailing Obama by mid-to-high single digits among women—a margin that would rank among the smallest gender gaps in modern presidential history—the GOP has failed to recognize where this nation is going, demographically and culturally.
We all know that the #1 issue in this election was economy, so you might be scratching your head wondering what happened. The pundits vary in opinions, ranging from effective negative campaigning, 47% video, even hurricane Sandy. A few may be mentioning the need to redefine conservatism and reinvention of the Republican party. But I don’t think anyone is clearly defining that these social and cultural issues are economic issues as well.
Let’s face it—the global economy is changing at a lightening speed. The revolutions we have been seeing around the world are not just about economic issues, but also cultural shifts specially in leadership. President Obama’s re-election was clearly not about economic issues, but about social and cultural issues. But it is time to face that these social and cultural shifts drive consumer motivation and behavior, and therefore, business performance. It is time to realize that embracing cultural shifts and TNWMP is an economic imperative.
Facing the fiscal cliff, business leaders must learn about the GOP mistakes and embrace the 3 major macro trends in TNWMP. Businesses must re-invent themselves. Focus on raising revenue and topline instead of tactical cost cutting with short term benefits and long terms risks. The more you cut expenses, the more you jeopardize your top line. Being frustrated doesn’t do it. Study your macro economics, your industry landscape and your own business models. With only 34 more working days left this year, you must start re-evaluating your core target and your strategic plans and priorities for 2013.
You can rise above the fiscal cliff, succeed and prosper in the coming years–or stay frustrated and behind. Your choice. Change is mandatory. Make it meaningful.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (by Tate Publishing)
ATLANTA, Ga. – In today’s tough economy, bitter political campaigns, fluctuating stock market and consumer confidence, experienced consultant and thought leader Farnaz Wallace believes cultural macro trends are not being addressed by businesses and opportunities for growth are ignored.
“We can’t just sit back and blame the economy for company performance,” says Wallace, “today more than ever, people have a simple wish for a better life, and brands must communicate how they can improve consumer’s life conditions through a meaningful, emotionally charged campaign.”
But companies are not doing so. Instead, they are focused on continuous cost cutting and leading from the back end. A rapid cultural shift has occurred over the last decade, but is not being addressed. Leaders and companies must start leading from the front end, leveraging the cultural macro trends to improve sales and profit. They must find ways to stay relevant in a world that is fundamentally different from the one being taught in textbooks, she says.
In her new book released in May, “The New World Marketplace,” Wallace breaks down these changes into three macro trends: The shifting roles of women at home and at work, the new values and ideological power of youth culture, and the growth and influence of multicultural consumers and societies.
These three trends—once considered small niches—are now major target markets, and businesses must communicate to them in order to stay relevant and prosperous. Great brands are built on beliefs and values. Building trust is no longer a nice-to-have, it is a must-have. How can you build on fast-changing beliefs and values without understanding The New World Marketplace, she says.
Wallace explains the societal transformations clearly in her book, and offers tools to address them, both professionally and personally. She hopes individuals’ eyes will be opened to the possibilities for new social models, leadership, and of course, business models that will succeed.
Published by Tate Publishing and Enterprises, the book is available through bookstores nationwide, from the publisher at www.tatepublishing.com/
Wallace is a thought leader, speaker, and strategic consultant focused on helping companies capitalize on cultural macro trends in today’s fast-changing, challenging marketplace. She has served as EVP and Chief Marketing Officer for a Fortune 500 Company, and presently resides in Atlanta.
Can we blame the economy for company performance? 6 lessons brands should learn from political campaigns
I came back from my summer vacation a week ago hearing all the media noise about negative political ads, fluctuating stock markets, consumers cutting back on spending, businesses investing less, well, you know the rest. It is an election year, afterall.
As a strategic branding consultant, I couldn’t help but to research the effectiveness of the political attack ads that are designed to diminish positive effect for the opposing candidate’s target. I wondered if it is working. So many opposing views in articles and blogs.
I reviewed a meta-analytic assessment of the effects of negative political campaigns. This Research concludes that negative campaigning is no more effective than positive campaigning, but seems to be more memorable, generating greater campaign-relevant knowledge. It also suggests that negative campaigning has the potential to do damage to the political system itself, as it tends to reduce feelings of political efficacy, trust in government, and perhaps even satisfaction with government itself. However, contrary to the popular belief, it provides no support that it reduces or depresses voter turnarount. Interestingly, while the overall findings for intended turnout are negative, the overall findings for actual turnout is positive.
Net, net, I think the negative political attack ads are designed to energize the base and increase campaign interest–and contrary to current articles and blog posts, backlash effect is minimum. The country is already divided and strategic differentiations are clearly defined. There is not much any of our candidates can do or say to change the opposing views. With that said, I think the Democratic party has much more to gain by energizing and uniting their base, versus the Republican base who have been united and energized the entire time these past four years.
As for the undecided voters (are there any out there), this strategy may increase campaign interest, only if campaign-related knowledge is shared. More importantly, trust must be build on the information shared, which is hardly the case with intensely different fact sharing on each side. What is true is that you are neither wrong or right if the crowd disagrees with you—you are right only if your data and reasoning are right.
You would think that political parties can continue disagreeing on how to tax the top 2%, but at least agree on how to tax the 98% consumers to revive middle class, which will in turn improve the economy and business performances. What surprises me even more is the extend of discussion on taxes versus cultural values that are true behavioral motivators—in voting or consumption. If business leaders were more concerned about leveraging the cultural macro trends and driving sales and profit from the front end, versus cost cutting and bitter tax debates, they will actually end up making more money for all the shareholders.
What can we learn about from all this as it relates to branding and marketing strategies? Can we just sit back and blame the economy for the company performance? Here are 6 important lessons to learn and follow:
- People have a simple wish for a better life. Communicate how your brand can improve their current conditions.
- Energize your base through powerful, emotionally charged marketing campaigns.
- Great brands are built on beliefs and values. Decide which beliefs and values to include in your Value Propositions.
- In today’s economy, all consumers are seeking price value. Don’t lower your price at the expense of your quality and service. Lower it only to gain market share through a meaningful campaign.
- Gain trust by showing you truly care for your base target…share relevant trustworthy reasoning why the consumers should choose your brand…more importantly, deliver on your brand promise.
- Leverage the 3 major cultural macro trends, and step in to The New World Marketplace which is a far cry from the one taught in business textbooks.
Last weekend, I saw the new batman movie, The Rise of the Dark Knight. I always liked the super-hero movies, not just to see the latest production magic, but also because the good guys always win and save the world. The recent Aurora massacre and tragedy at this movie made me think through a bifocal lens. Somehow, The Dark Knight Rises survives the darkest night in US movie history. I can’t say that I believe in limiting the filmmaker’s artistic vision of a super-hero story, because one psychopath picked this movie to commit a mass murder. I can’t completely fault good marketers who achieved the second highest midnight opening in history and are trying to change upcoming plans in response to current events. The videogame industry is larger than the movie box office, and movies in general are not as violent as videogames. This speaks to a greater culture of violence, which is a reflection of our society’s mind in general.
But I asked myself why would Warner Brothers, among others, promote “midnight opening” of a PG-13 movie and allow ignorant parents to bring their very small children to a midnight showing of such an adult movie? I questioned why we have more restrictions, screening and licenses for owning a car than owning a gun? I question why companies, such as Apple, can choose whether to sell products to Iranian-American citizens due to economic sanction, but gun control interferes with American freedom.
2012 truly marks the year where marketers can expect which programs will help establish new branding norms, while others protect the status quo, and at the very best, serve as lessons learned.
In a revolutionary world where consumers are increasingly inspired to stand up against Corporations with brand backlashes, aligning with popular entertainment or simply getting behind a charity sponsorship is not enough. The New World Marketplace demands an honest, authentic blend of social movement with social responsibility to lead the social and cultural change.
Consumers are hungry for stories and issues that have real meaning and substance. Brand building is like story telling, and marketers have resources and clout to explore and tell the stories that consumers hold dear and close to their hearts, and bring new ideas to life. Consumers are well aware of companies’ fiduciary responsibilities, but they will purchase from those who connect with higher purpose and shared values–they know the difference between an honest cause and just another way to make profit.
Can we look at unfortunate events and learn something different? Yes. But first, brands must evaluate their Value Proposition for their cause and movement. If it doesn’t create something better and more meaningful for the target market, there won’t be any motivation and engagement. Maybe movie marketers can go beyond editing trailers and re-evaluate their ratings, or at least minimum age for PG-13 attendance—demonstrate that they truly care about what’s right. Maybe Apple, among other companies, can stop racial profiling regardless of government initiatives.
Any good value proposition will have trade-offs as well as benefits. We are living in a bitterly divided political nation these days, and as easy as it is to judge the political candidates on their strategic trade-offs, it is nearly impossible to create a social movement and brand differentiation without them. The Dark Knight is not just a fantasy. We will always have dark and light forces all around us in life. Decide which side of this movement you want to walk on.
Why do so many companies and entrepreneurs with great products and services fail to deliver success? Is it lack of strategy and vision—or lack of knowing how to “execute” a strategic vision in the marketplace? Hint: maybe both.
Fast Food companies offer the same products with incremental differences in price and ingredients. Ethnic restaurants offer mainstream brand names and menu items that have nothing to do with their unique positioning. (I’m sure Dallas residents have seen quite a few Persian restaurants with Italian brand name, signage and décor.) Social media agencies and entrepreneurs all call themselves social media experts. Which one should we believe or prefer? Media companies chase after the same story and sensationalism, so flipping through new channels feels like watching reruns. Even airline companies, such as Delta, promote trust and integrity as their brand values, with no concept on how to execute these values.
We’ve been numbed to brand promises never kept or delivered. Many companies claim and promise universal values such as, trust, honesty and integrity …. But which one is delivering and how? Challenge is lack of decisiveness and know-how on the execution of these values in branding messages. Values stem from our beliefs, and our beliefs grow from what we see, hear and experience. It’s all about execution and delivery.
No doubt, future growth and profitability will come from a different way of doing business in the New World Marketplace. Here are 6 easy steps to get you started:
1. Define your strategic differentiation
Strategy is not about being the best, whether it’s operations excellence or best practices. Strategy is about being different. Strategy is just as much about what not to do as it is about what to do. It’s a combination of benefits and trade-offs that your brand offers, differentiating you from the competing alternatives in the marketplace. Trade-offs are essential to strategy. They create the need for choice and purposefully limit what your company offers in order to have a clear differentiation and competitive advantage.
2. Determine your strategic priorities
Trying to be all to everyone is like being nothing to no one. Are you trying to promise and deliver efficiency, high quality, low price, innovation, superb customer service, high profile/image and fastest to market—all at the same time? Can you? Focus and prioritize your strategic execution. High-performance companies tend to focus on one or two primary strategic priorities, and they align their culture to support them.
3. Align company culture with strategy
Your company culture must be aligned and fully focused on your strategic priorities. Achieving and sustaining this alignment long term is the biggest challenge most organizations face in achieving business success. When culture and strategy align, both people and functions work toward a common goal and purpose. Definition: Company culture is a set of shared values, beliefs, causes, assumptions and behaviors that reflect how a business strategy is executed. The key to effective execution is having everyone in your organization internalize strategy in their daily thinking, actions and behaviors.
4. Choose your customers
Many companies need to re-evaluate their existing target customers, based on the 3 major macro trends in The New World Marketplace. More importantly, remember that strategy is about which customers and which needs. You can not effectively communicate to your changing customers, unless you carefully choose which customers you can deliver and execute specific needs to.
5. Align your company values with your chosen target customers
Businesses must appeal to the values that their target customers hold dear, and they must also know how to express those values in branding messages. This means aligning your values with those of your chosen customers, believe in what they believe in. I call this marketing to the inside not outside of the customers. Customers don’t just buy what you do, but why you do it. Most companies know what and how to sell…but they don’t know why. Like it or not, customers decisions are emotional, and you must engage them on an emotional level to change their minds and behaviors. This is a different way to interpret reality than rational levers of facts and features. Pick and choose the emotional values that you can and know how to truly deliver on, and then communicate it.
This is, and should be, the last phase of strategic execution. More often than not, companies of all sizes jump to the communication phase without completing the prerequisite steps. Nothing hurts the company performance more than communicating a branding message that is not consistent with your strategic differentiation and priorities. Bringing your strategic vision to life in your communication tactics is not easy. If you don’t know how, you should consult with an expert and make the best use of your marketing dollars. Otherwise, you’re confusing your customers while your competitors are getting it right.