High-velocity marketing: it’s coming your way and it’s got your
company’s name on it.
There’s a graph that marketing people use to show how the world is
speeding up. It shows how it took about 80 years for cars to reach most
of the population, 40 years for telephones and 20 years for TVs. And so,
in the 80s and 90s we find mobile phones taking ten years, the internet
taking pretty close to five years before it hit the masses and who knows
which of the latest gizmos is poised to do this in even less time.
So much, so familiar.
But have you noticed how exactly the same pattern is appearing for
Recent evidence for this comes from the Henley Centre’s ’Planning for
Social Change’ report, which shows some very new brands becoming very
trustworthy very quickly.
Earlier this century it would have taken at least a generation to build
consumer trust, to create a Heinz, a Boots or a Kellogg’s. More
recently, you could achieve this in less than 20 years as Virgin and
Body Shop have shown. According to the Henley Centre, Gap has got there
in around ten years and Yahoo! in about five.
So the adoption of new technology and the adoption of new brands is
speeding up. You can draw the same graphs for each.
Now the reason why marketing people get out the ’technology adoption’
graph is to try to spur innovation in the rest of the organisation.
’Look how the world is changing! We have got to get more nimble! We must
change the way we do business!’ is the message.
All very true, but is marketing itself changing enough?
Are many people still using marketing methods from the industrial age,
while others have realised that brand management needs to speed up just
as technology is speeding up? After all, marketing is a 20th-century
invention that grew alongside industrial mass-production methods and new
broadcast technologies. Modern marketing, despite its increasing
sophistication, is still an industrial mind-set.
So it would seem that these new high-velocity marketers are using new
methods for a new age. They don’t use research as illumination or
support but as fuel for their entrepreneurial minds.
They have financial models based on ’asset creation’ rather than
’discount cash flow’. And, perhaps most tellingly, they get organically
close to their consumers rather than relying on conventional
But is this an ’e-thing’ or an ’everything thing’? Does all brand
management need to speed up or are these special cases heavily affected
by the e-revolution?
Well, place your bets and may the best marketer win. But my money is on
the small furry mammals and not on the big lumbering dinosaurs.
And if you want do a personal survey, talk to your ancient Jurassic
parents and see which technologies they have adopted recently (any
takers for ’cyber-seniors’?). And then ask them which bright-eyed,
bushy-tailed brands they are getting into.
Jon Leach is a partner at HHCL & Partners.