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Grow: Mark Healy

Three new trends in the year ahead Add to ...

The year 2010 was surprisingly busy for most of my clients.

We’ve all read about the jobless recovery. I don’t think that is true any more. We are hiring, as are the majority of my clients.

That said, 2010 also seems to have been the acceptance-of-the-new-normal year. The new normal is living with uncertainty. The new normal is intense competition and pricing pressure. The new normal is more rigorous decision-making. The new normal is a bit of a street fight.

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In my last colum, I looked at trends from the past year that are likely to carry forward.

What new ones can we expect in 2011? Here are three my clients are talking about:

1. Greening the business

Ah, yes, the return of green. I hear this more from business owners and managers as a response to changing employee attitudes and a necessity for recruiting talent than I do in response to consumer pressure.

Clients tell me that, when trying to attract talent, in particular, junior talent, would-be employees often ask questions around the company’s sustainability policies.

Regardless of the source of the pressure, look for green to be part of the dialogue again in 2011.

2. The talent war

All of my clients are talking about talent. I hear one of two stories wherever I go.

One: We can’t find enough good and/or skilled talent.

Or, two: We are really worried about managing four generations in our business (the old guard in executive positions, baby boomers in management positions, Gen Xers in middle-management jobs and millennials in entry-level positions). I believe each is a real and a significant issue for businesses of all sizes, and each threatens to take the focus off of the customer.

In 2011, business owners and managers will be tearing their hair out over talent issues.

3. Qualitative data

A trend I see coming in my own business is clients moving away from a desire for quantitative market research data and toward a desire for deep qualitative data. In other words, I see clients moving away from a numbers-only decision- making process to a position of deep market understanding, relying more on ethnography, mystery shopping, live-in’s, etc. – where the data is pure and closest to the point of transaction.

In 2011, I think “alternative” market research methods will become more standard.

Special to The Globe and Mail

Mark Healy, P.Eng, MBA, is a partner at Satov Consultants – a management consultancy with practice areas in corporate strategy, customer strategy and operations strategy. Mark’s focus areas inside the customer strategy practice include consumer insights, customer experience, innovation and go-to-market strategy. He is a regular speaker and media contributor on topics ranging from marketing to strategy, in telecom, retail and other sectors. Mark is known as much for his penchant for loud socks and a healthy NFL football obsession as he is for his commitment to Ivey and recent Ivey grads. He currently serves as chair of the Ivey Alumni Association board of directors. Mark lives with his wife Charlotte and their bulldog McDuff in Toronto.

Follow on Twitter: @healymark

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