People have started turning away from large-scale, anonymous companies and towards smaller, local, more authentic ventures. More and more, people want to know the person behind the product they’ve just purchased. They want to see their own personal values being upheld and mirrored in as many exchanges that they have as possible, every single day.
Seth Godin, a leading thinker in business, talks about this shift in his new book,The Icarus Deception. “What matters to people now is connecting with other like-minded people; including those they choose to do business with.” He has coined this new economy “The Connections Economy”.
Godin describes a new landscape of smaller businesses whose size enables them to deal directly with their customers. These new ventures are more personal, non-corporate and authentic entities set up to do something different and important – both for the personal creators and for people who deal with them. Fantastically, the digital and social revolution has enabled such a shift, giving small enterprises access to global niche markets, allowing them to be economically viable for the few who run them.
From a big business point of view, all is not lost either. Larger companies can use the size of their organisations for a significant social purpose and reconnect with their customers. This is the flipside of the scale of their operations: they can actually make a very positive and real impact on the world. Take, for example, the World’s number one brand: Coke. Coca-Cola, having used the image of the Polar Bear in their advertising campaigns for the last few decades, are now working jointly with the WWF to protect the Arctic – the habitat of the polar bears. Another company giving back is clothing brand Timberland. Since the massive earthquake in 2010, Timberland have been working with a local Haitian NGO to upskill farmers on sustainable farming and improving the forestry of the country.
How reassuring to know that the opinion and decisions of a single individual – when expressed and acted upon – can snowball globally and have a real impact by influencing the ways in which large-scale organisations work.