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Chris Sanderson Talks “Womenomics”

Chris Sanderson, strategy and insight director of The Future Laboratory, discussed the challenges facing brands looking to connect with their clientele.

Marketers, brace yourselves. It’s time to deal with the “turbulent teens,” according to Chris Sanderson, strategy and insight director of The Future Laboratory, speaking at the WWD CEO Beauty Summit.

He was referring to consumer behavior in the current decade and the challenges facing brands looking to connect with their clientele.

“We are set for a decade of great change. Whether you talk to a politician, a scientist, a technologist, an environmentalist, it’s all about change,” he said. “Some of that will be apocalyptic, potentially. Or will it? Will we find solutions? It’s certainly going to be cataclysmic, as it’s going to affect us profoundly and we’ve already begun to see some of that in a very short period of time.

“This is the decade in which we set the agenda for the rest of the century,” he said.

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Sanderson highlighted a number of trends likely to impact how brands do business in the coming years, including “womenomics.”

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“We are now in a female century. This is the century in which women come to the fore, in which the balance of power changes. By 2020, it is reckoned globally there will be more female millions than male,” he said. “At some point last year unofficially the Web turned female because there are now globally more female users than male.”

That has led to the Web becoming a very human environment with a greater focus on community, sharing and collaborating, Sanderson added. In turn, this is played out in the development of “the referral economy” as people critique products and brands online.

“Womenomics is about creating marketing, branding and design opportunities that are more in keeping with the mood and movements of the time,” he said. “And that means appealing to both a male and a female market segment and often being collaborative, being creative and being playful.”

Sanderson noted brands are now obliged to be available at all times on platforms that are appropriate to their positioning and clientele.

“Welcome to the age of what we call ‘brandocracy,’ where brands must be more democratic, conversational and human to gain consumer appeal,” he said.

“Without a doubt, we should all have migrated from a transactional model, understanding or thinking that our relationship is purely based on transaction and product to one that is about what we call the three Cs — conversation, collaboration and creation. That is what will engender a continued loyalty, which is what we’re all after with the consumer of this next decade,” he continued.

He also addressed a shift in attitude toward consumption.

“We now believe we’re entertaining a period of where we start to talk about leanness,” he said. “It’s not just a change in economy that’s making us think about leanness; there are all sorts of other factors contributing to this idea that we have to start to thinking about being lean.

“We’re oversaturated with stuff and the messages that sell us more stuff,” he continued. “We’re feeling overwhelmed by it.”

Sanderson added this situation could lead to opportunities for brands that help shoppers filter through the clutter.

“Maybe it isn’t about how many stockkeeping units you do or how many products you offer,” he said. “It’s about the right product at the right time for the right consumer.”

Sanderson also highlighted the notion of “glocalization” and addressing consumers in a fashion that’s meaningful for them.

“It isn’t just about this nice, touchy-feely idea of being local,” he said. “It’s about the fact that suddenly we have the opportunity to actually talk to our consumers, each and every one of them in a very individual way.”