Innovation aids fight for survival

The new dynamics of the European and global market are forcing leading advertisers to put innovation and change management at a premium. And that means communications agencies should take careful note.

Advertisers face an increasingly complex and baffling array of circumstances – economic, political and technological – which offer an uncomfortable mix of opportunity and uncertainty.

On the positive side, the marketing communications industry is entering a new digital era, the media landscape is being transformed and a new generation of consumers is beginning to have an impact on the way advertisers will build and sustain their brands in the future. Yet the background to this changing landscape is one of growing concern about the global economy, political uncertainty and, in Europe, a preoccupation with the issues surrounding the introduction of a single currency and regulatory controls.

In Asia, business managers have been forced to address change management and innovation as they fight to survive. While there can be no direct comparison between the Asian crisis and conditions in Europe, the lessons being learned by Asia’s managers are universally relevant.

In a review of these issues, the New Straits Times in Malaysia highlighted innovation and the ability to embrace change as the most fundamental attributes of companies seeking to build for the future: “Creating a culture that thrives on change is the hallmark of success in today’s business world,” notes the report. “Companies able to anticipate and respond to changes will survive the challenges.”

The report also identifies the need to listen more closely to consumers and to gather knowledge about changes in their requirements: “It is important for companies to keep a close watch on changing consumer attitudes and habits in difficult times to gain a better understanding of their consumption and spending patterns. Companies should focus on innovation to improve products by finding new ways of providing services. They should reformulate their marketing plans, to take change in consumer habits into consideration.

The report goes on to say: “Innovation will be the life blood of organisations that survive into the 21st century. Many businesses make the mistake of ignoring the need for innovation if their main competition does the same. Organisations must continue to find new products and new ways of providing services during the current economic slowdown.”

But creativity is only one aspect of innovation. Real innovation is about new ideas that have genuine impact across all working practices, through to advertising and communications.

It is about making fundamental changes that reach to the heart of an agency’s culture and working methods.

In order to meet the changing requirements of their clients, agencies will increasingly need to foster a culture of global innovation, which is not just confined to the creative product, but in every aspect of their business.

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