Can you forecast/predict and adapt to trends and if possible get ahead of them in our AEC businesses and practices?
This question has marketing relevance because clearly the businesses which can fortunately see forward to what organizations may interested in purchasing a few years (or even months) ahead would in theory have a major competitive advantage.
There are services and consultants which analyze these trends and make recommendations and they may have value. I’m not sure how much science you will find behind their assertions, however, and the historical examples they share can be conveniently 100 per cent hindsight.
Still, for example, if you look at observations such as made by Geremy Gutsche at the Canadian Construction Association conference earlier this year, as reported in the Canadian Design and Construction Report, you can develop some approaches to the issue of power transfer between boomers and millennials.
“The traps are that we become complacent, we lose that hunger we had when we were first out of school,” he said. “We become repetitive. We do what happened before instead of trying something new, and we become very protective of our ideas.
“We assume we’re correct, we create fortunes, we attribute our fortune to that idea, and we’re not really as open to whatever the next generation or the next customer has to say.”
Then, how can the construction industry deal with these challenges? He said the challenge relate to the integration of projects and initiatives – where, for example, for a hospital, the “RFP is not just for a building; it’s actually to create patient care at a much different level.”
“I think that the question you needed to ask yourself is what exactly is it that you’re trying to do,” he told an interviewer. “Are you building a building? Are you paving a road? Or are you solving a different need?
“The more you push yourself, there are critical questions you can ask that would lead you to better understand how your construction business could evolve.”
Gutsche added: “The other huge trend that’s going to be impacting construction is the generational shift as we go and shift the power of control from boomers to millennials.”
“Millenials aren’t motivated by money,” he said. “They’re not motivated by putting in a career of decades of effort into one company. They’re motivated by completing, by feeling a sense of belonging, by feeling as if they’re in charge and running their own projects.
“This is something that scares off a lot of the engineering in more traditional companies that I’ve worked with, but the other way to think about it is the attributes of a millennial are very similar to the attributes of an entrepreneur. By re-engineering how you motivate that new group, you can actually benefit from a group of hungry minds that wants to help you adapt.”
Brand/trend specialist Cheryl Grant added to these insights at a last night’s Greater Ottawa Home Builders Association dinner, when she discussed the incredible combined power of boomers and millennial — who together have more than 50 per cent of the population/purchasing capacity.
The boomers aren’t getting “old”, Grant indicated — they are keeping pace and embracing ideas and sharing values with the much younger millennial age group. The difference is they have a lot more money — and that cash gives then strength. The boomers don’t want to live in “retirement” and they don’t want to leave their own homes — they’ll spend significant dollars on renovations, though.
But the millennials aren’t poor either, because they have borrowing capacity or in some cases can collect advances on the their parents’ wealth.
I enjoy following these trend-expert thoughts. Can we apply them in our own marketing and product/service development initiatives?