Monday, March 02, 2015
Who would have thought a fitness tracker on one's wrist could kill a diet business? But apparently it is doing just that. Sales and earnings of Weight Watchers International are down as people move to direct measurement of physical activity. It is hard to know whether Weight Watchers saw this coming. Marketplace disruption can happen from anywhere at any time and is a reason why CEOs should have a bit of paranoia. There are competitors, known and unknown, who can make a company irrelevant quickly through a better business model, technology and access to capital markets. This should engender a sense of humility in how companies communicate to shareholders and customers. A large part of that communication should be listening to detect early the trends that will affect a business in two to three years. Companies that get into trouble have an attitude that they know best what customers need. The corporate graveyard is populated with them. I have witnessed the decline and fall of a number of businesses that couldn't adapt in time to new rules of the marketplace. One in particular was so blind that the CEO refused to believe his own market research department that was tracking declining market share. He kept pumping out machines that no one wanted. The implosion of the company was rapid and complete. The CEO had forgotten or failed to believe that disruption is real and constant. Communications practitioners should know better.