Have you heard of resilience? Resilience can be translated as “restorative power” or “elasticity” and was originally used in environmental studies to describe the resilience of ecosystems to environmental change. It gradually began to be used as a term to describe a person’s mental resilience in psychology and has recently been used more and more in business areas such as management studies and organizational theory.
Why resilience is used in marketing
Why has the term “resilience” become so popular in business administration? It is mainly due to the increasing uncertainty in the world. The aging of the population in developed countries and population growth in emerging economies have dramatically changed the global workforce, and technological advances are changing the world at a dizzying pace. In order for companies to survive in such an uncertain environment, the flexibility to cope with unexpected challenges is becoming a focus of attention.
There is a concept called VUCA. This term is an acronym for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity, and refers to today’s unpredictable and turbulent times, times when the environment is changing dramatically. In the age of VUCA, people and companies go through many rough patches, but the important thing here is not to be able to avoid being crushed when things go horribly wrong but to recover. In the U.S., the simultaneous terrorist attacks and the Lehman Shock, and in Japan, the Great East Japan Earthquake and other events have made an increasing number of companies aware of resilience. Still, the recent Corona disaster has further increased the importance of resilience.
While many businesses and stores have been hit by the Corona pandemic, there are many resilient stores that have not lost any customers at all. I have a friend who runs a beauty salon. It used to be a large hair salon, but now it is a small salon with a single owner who only takes regular customers. The owner’s personality is truly wonderful, and talking with him makes my heart feel soothed, making me go there every week. Surprisingly, this beauty parlor did not lose customers even with the Corona disaster. Of course, during the initial emergency, the number of customers declined, but they soon returned. The difference between the stores that survived the environmental upheaval caused by the Corona disaster and those that did not is precisely the difference in resilience.
The difference in Resilience is the difference in Loyalty
This difference in resilience is also the difference in loyalty to each and every store. In fact, stores that have earned a strong loyalty have survived the Corona Disaster considerably better. Philip Kotler describes loyalty not as a simple functional benefit to a product, but as an emotional benefit, or more specifically, a spiritual benefit. Spirituality is a spiritual connection. Marketing in the future must focus on the spiritual connection between a company or brand and its customers, in other words, intrinsic loyalty.
Given this perspective, the aforementioned beauty salons are truly achieving loyalty marketing. The reason is that, beyond the functional benefit of simply getting a haircut, the mental motivation of wanting to see the owner makes people want to go there every week. If we pursue loyalty marketing, we arrive at the emotional marketing, cultural marketing, and spiritual marketing described by Kotler.
It is by no means a bad thing to have a store that caters to transient needs. There are some types of businesses that do not require loyalty, and we do not deny such strategies, but unfortunately, they tend to result in low resilience. One of the major benefits of loyalty marketing is to strengthen resilience. In the future, we can expect tremendous changes in the external environment, including climate change. In order to survive under such circumstances, marketing should focus on loyalty marketing.
Marketing today requires flexibility.
Darwin said, “The species that survives is not the strongest.” This essentially describes resilience. For example, a plant with a hard stem will break when a strong wind blows and will not recover, but a thin, soft plant such as a reed or a Japanese pampas grass will fall when a strong wind blows but will recover when the wind dies down. What is needed to survive in difficult situations is not hardness but flexibility.
That is true not only in the plant world but in our environment in general. People and businesses will be destroyed if they try to force themselves against the headwind. An attitude of acceptance rather than resistance to harsh conditions is essential for survival in a rapidly changing and harsh environment. Marketing is no different. It is not always right to operate based on ironclad marketing strategies or precise forecasts. Pursuing resilience means daring to make a plan based on a loose hypothesis, execute it a bit, and then revise it. Repeat this process, and if there is a major change, change the policy drastically. Then, when the storm subsides, it is crucial to be flexible and change the policy back to the original one.
Tsunehiro Fukushima will direct your marketing efforts
At transcosmos, we offer marketing strategy proposals in line with the 5A concept advocated by Philip Kotler. For actual proposals, Tsunehiro Fukushima, the commentator of this article, supports loyalty marketing optimized for the digital age. First of all, please tell us your company’s concerns.
Corporate Executive Officer, transcosmos inc.
Director, Japan Marketing Association
After completing graduate studies at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, he joined Ajinomoto Co., Inc. He then worked for GE Capital, Mitsubishi Corporation, Gurunavi, Inc., and Medical Data Vision Co., Ltd., where he served as head of big data business and marketing. His areas of expertise include new business and new product development, brand theory, medical business, and loyalty marketing. At transcosmos, he is in charge of marketing-relat