The legendary Richard Feynman, winner of the Nobel Prize for physics, was unlike other physicists in that he didn't consider the truth to be viewable only through the micro-lens of current conditions. In fact, he laughed at the naiveté of such a perspective, saying, “Physicists like to think that all you have to do is say, These are the conditions, now what happens next?'”
You haven't been thinking that way, have you?
Consider the following terms: (If you've never heard of the first two, it's because I made them up.)
1. The Marketing Telescope: a perspective that reveals the “big-picture” future of the marketplace over an extended period of time, usually 2 to 10 years. The Marketing Telescope does not predict short-term increases or declines.
2. The Marketing Microscope: a short-term analysis of what is happening right now and an explanation of why it's happening. But the Marketing Microscope is an extremely dangerous lens for predicting the longer-term future. Day-traders use a Microscope to choose the stocks in which to invest; Warren Buffett uses a Telescope. Who do you suppose makes more money?
3. Baby Boomers: The generation that has directly or indirectly controlled the US economy for the past 40 years. Baby Boomers are generally considered to be those who were born in the years immediately following WW II (1946-1964.) Consequently, Baby Boomers range in age today from 39 to 57 years old.
4. Gen Xers: The children of the Boomers, Xers are much less concerned with achievement and status than were their parents. Consequently, they dislike hype and pretense in all its shapes and sizes. “Austin Powers,” the British spy-movie spoof, is a classic statement of Gen Xers' quiet disdain for what they perceive as the artificiality of the previous generation. Xers range from 27-38 years old.
Analysts who have been monitoring the decline of traffic at the Disney theme parks and the downward trend of McDonald's Hamburgers have been looking through the lens of the marketing microscope and asking, “Was it 9-11? Is it health concerns?” But if you peer through the telescope, the answer becomes suddenly clear: Baby Boomers grew up with Mickey and Donald and Goofy when these were state-of-the art entertainment, so they grew up and took their kids, the Xers, to Disney World. But those Xers grew up with a whole host of characters, cartoons and movies that were more impressive than Cinderella and her gang, so they don't have the same feelings toward Cinderella's Disney castle. And is a generation that detests artificiality and pretense likely to take their kids to McDonald's?
Did you notice who was a major advertiser during the NFL Playoffs this year? Subway, the sandwich company championed by Jared, an unslick “regular guy” who is staggeringly average in every way.
People who prefer the lens of the marketing microscope believe that the telescope view is overly simplistic and I'm not denying that it is. But just as one of your eyes is dominant when focusing on things far away and the other is dominant when looking at things which are near, you must look through both marketing microscope and telescope if you want to see the full depth and width of the truth.
Have you been monitoring current conditions in the hope of forecasting the future? Add to that perspective a peek through the 'big-picture' lens of the marketing telescope and things should become startlingly clear.
Roy H. Williams