What’s next for the New General Market

There are lots of bad reasons to start a company. But there is only one good reason. To change the world. The best brands operate with purpose, and it’s about much more than the bottom line. 
 
That was the key idea behind the third annual New General Market Summit, held April 4 in Minneapolis. Co-produced by Drug Store News and Mack Elevation, the event attracted a number of leading global and emerging brands from the world of health and beauty.  
 
What is the New General Market? 
The New General Market is a tapestry of cultures, ethnicities and demographics aligned against commonalities, needs and lifestyles. It’s less about specific demographic groups and more of an expanding global mindset. It is a movement of culturally competent organizations, creating products and services for the new consumer — inspired by inclusion, community and purpose.  
 
According to Silverpop Research, most people only have five “best friend brands” — that is, companies from which they will repeatedly open emails and buy products. Meanwhile, a recent study by the Corporate Executive Board shows that most people wouldn’t care if 73% of brands disappeared altogether. 
 
At the same time, Harvard researchers have determined that organizations that are fueled by purpose have a significant competitive advantage, delivering six times more value to shareholders than their profit-driven peers. The winners operate with purpose and soul.
 
Simply, doing good is good business.
 
Highlights from the full day thought-leadership event will be featured as part of an in-depth special report in the June issue of Drug Store News. In the meantime, what follows here are six big ideas to emerge from the third annual New General Market Summit.
 
Cultural competence matters
Rich Dennis, CEO of Sundial Brands and the pioneering vision behind the concept of the New General Market consumer, offered an emotional view of Sundial’s vision for community commerce vision and cultural competence.  
 
In all, Sundial has created 15 farming cooperatives in Ghana. These self-contained businesses have positively affected the lives of women who process shea butter in their communities. School enrollment in these communities is up from 37% to 97%, and registration for health care has increased from 48% to 99%. As a result of these efforts, more than 14,500 households now are benefiting from increased incomes and access to fresh water.
 
Sundial Brands is leaving a legacy, breaking the cycle of poverty and helping put an end to the unnecessary loss of life through its innovative business practices.  
 
Every brand must have soul
John Replogle, CEO of Seventh Generation, has led two brand revolutions; prior to leading Seventh Generation, Replogle was CEO of Burt’s Bees.   
 
What is a brand? According to Replogle, it is reputation; it’s a story, a promise and a relationship, and it has soul. It is a combination of purpose, mission and inspiration. It’s the “why” behind the “buy.”  
 
According to Replogle, in all of its decisions, Seventh Generation leadership asks itself, “How will this affect our business, the planet and people over seven generations?” 
 
Today’s consumer demands honesty as an opening proposition. Today’s most admired brands — Starbucks, Kind, Dove and Harley Davidson — all have one thing in common: They have soul. They embrace aesthetics and articulate a clear brand story. 
 
Soul matters. It creates loyalty and value. And today’s consumer will pay more for soul.  
 
Building a culture of innovation
Eric Ryan, co-founder of Method Home Products and Olly Nutrition, shared his blueprint for innovation.
 
“Everything starts with culture,” he said. For the Method an Olly brands, it’s about “blurring the lines” of conventional categories and balancing art and function to create new, imaginative products that leverage design thinking. 
 
Ryan’s organizations have a design-first mentality, believe in aesthetics and operate in categories primed for cultural shifts. “The vitamin aisle seemed confusing” and lacking products that appealed to new, younger consumers, he said. With such big, bold descriptions as “flawless complexion,” “respectful sleep” and “vibrant skin,” Olly calls out to the new consumer looking for a blend of design and efficacy.
 
The winners of digital influence 
Evan Neufeld, VP intelligence of L2 (a division of Gartner Research), discussed the importance of understanding a brand’s digital relevance.  L2, the brainchild of entrepreneur and New York University Stern School of Business professor Scott Galloway, benchmarks and assesses the digital effectiveness of brands through its proprietary Digital IQ Index, comparing a brand’s digital competency with the industry and its peers. It also helps suggest what level of investment a brand should make to improve its digital performance.  
 
Neufeld reminded the group that today’s winning brands don’t collect data — they deploy it. And they only ask for data they will utilize quickly and transparently.
 
Collaborative, co-created discussions
Daniel Duty, CEO Conlego Consulting and a former Target director, shared his vision for creating mutual value for retailers and manufacturers. 
 
Competitive pressures can create sub-optimal business partnerships. According to Duty, there are too many transactional relationships among retailers and manufacturers, which hinders growth for all. Real partnerships that are transformational emphasize elevated conversations, with a passion for discerning each other’s stated interests, risks and strategies for growth. The best high-level discussions are agreed to and executed through collaborative, facilitated, joint-business planning meetings. Sales and margin expectations, mutual investments, new initiatives and plan monitorization also are agreed to.  We are in a world where preferred relationships must be nurtured, not demanded.
 
Seamless omnichannel experience
Russ Heilbrun, director e-commerce for J&J and former Target digital director, shared a personal story to demonstrate how all brand experiences are changing. 
 
Heilbrun, who has visited every professional major league baseball stadium in the country, talked about how the experience of going to the ballpark has changed over the last 15 years. Every facet of the experience — from how we purchase tickets and how we travel to the game to how we interact and communicate about the experience during the game — has dramatically changed. The memory of a baseball game now is an amalgamation of the incremental new experiences, which occurred prior to, during and after the actual experience.  
 
It is a metaphor for all brands moving forward. The brand is a complete experience, and it begins way before the customer enters the store.
 
The most compelling and meaningful brands today have more going for them than just a positive balance sheet — they are increasingly becoming cultural forces for change and impact. 
 
What’s the purpose of a brand today? 
 
To transform the world.  

To view the full special report, click here.
 
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