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Body of Thought

We like to say that Strategic Horizons is a thinking studio committed to helping executives see the world differentlyEM. That statement, while intentionally broad in scope, asks the question … What exactly do we help executives see?

Over the years our ideas have focused on identifying and articulating the nascent, but ultimately ground-swelling changes that radically alter how businesses compete. It’s easy to point to information technology, or the rise of the Internet, or any number of other significant recent developments and say “There – that’s what’s important to focus on.” And many do. But we ask a deeper set of questions … questions that drive to answers about why these changes emerge and flourish and spawn entire new industries. Indeed, we seek to understand the very impetus of the change, not merely its manifestation.

Authenticity as the New Consumer Sensibility

In a world increasingly filled with staged experiences – an increasingly unreal world – consumers decide to buy or not to buy based on how real they perceive the offering to be. Businesses today must learn to understand, manage, and excel at rendering Authenticity with a capital “A”. Finding ways to tap into this emerging standard of selection and criteria for purchase will become essential. To be blunt: business offerings must get real. This new challenge can be defined best as the management of the customer perception of authenticity. In an age when consumers want what’s real, this becomes the new business imperative, and success awaits those who gain an understanding of what’s real and what’s fake – or at least what elements contribute to forming such consumer perceptions – about the output generated from their own enterprises. This is the subject of Pine & Gilmore's latest book Authenticity: What Consumers Really Want.

The Emergence and Steady Maturation of the Experience Economy

Just as the Industrial Economy supplanted the Agrarian Economy and was in turn supplanted by the Service Economy, we are now shifting to an Experience Economy. Good and services are no longer enough; they’re becoming mere commodities. The developed world’s predominant economic offering is fast becoming experiences – memorable events that engage each customer in an inherently personal way. Pine & Gilmore first described this fundamental shift in the very fabric of the economy in their 1997 Strategy & Leadership article “Beyond Goods and Services” and then fully detailed how companies could forestall commoditization by depicting and staging experiences in their 1999 book The Experience Economy: Work Is Theatre & Every Business a Stage. Recognizing that even experiences could be commoditized, Pine & Gilmore further demonstrate that companies can use them as the basis for a fifth economic offering: transformations, where businesses guide their customers to achieve their aspirations. More recently, Pine & Gilmore have extended their ideas in the e-Doc, The Experience IS the Marketing, to show how any company can use experiences to generate demand for their offerings.

For more about our views on the Experience Economy and its important implications, see Pine & Gilmore’s presentation topics.

The Rise of Mass Customization

Customers don’t want choice – they simply want what they want. The advent of Mass Production allowed the average consumer to own a piece of the American dream at an affordable price, but at the expense of custom-tailored goods and services. Today, however, thanks to the swift evolution of technology and improved management processes, Mass Customization enables companies to create individually customized offerings at prices customers are willing to pay. Joe Pine’s 1993 award-winning book Mass Customization: The New Frontier in Business Competition is considered the pre-eminent source on the subject, while subsequent writings such as Pine & Gilmore’s Harvard Business Review article "The Four Faces of Mass Customization" have extended the ideas to show how companies should respond to what has become an imperative in industry after industry. As consumers increasingly demand greater personalization in their lives, Mass Customization will become as important in the 21st century as Mass Production was in the 20th.

Take a deeper look at the on-going development of Pine & Gilmore’s Body of Thought. (pdf file)

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