I was doing a search on good reads in some of today’s trends, and I can’t believe there’s not a book titled “age of connection.” There was the Age of Access by Jeremy Rifkin, where he talked about how we no longer want to own, but that we’re into sharing and renting.
But I go beyond that. Looking at this on a macro scale, with recent focus on China and India, I think the next step is the Age of Connection. By connection, I’m referring to societies that connect with one another. The Internet surely helped catalyze this process – people are now linked to everyone. People are connected to each other. And so are businesses and products. And in the end, it’s the people that are either directly or indirectly connected to businesses and products. Now that’s an opportunity. It’s not about just population nor mass markets by head-count. It’s about the mass market for how much we are connected.
For market researchers and planners, I would tap into understanding where these connected people are, and how much they are affected by such relationships. Take Korea for example – they are perhaps one of the most connected peoples I know, as evidenced during the 2002 Korea/Japan World Cup when millions flooded the streets. Or perhaps how Starcraft became a national phenomenon and culture in a matter of months, or how CyWorld became a social networking culture way before Facebook or MySpace. Korea showed quick signs and became a worldwide example of economic recovery. All with deep respect to the culture of connection.
There are countries and areas out there that show vital signs of connection. Eastern European countries tend to have strong pride for their country and language. They have experienced moments where people had to get together, and they strive and love connecting with one another. They are open to change, and are adapting technology faster than ever. They are lovers of the Internet. Perhaps a great opportunity there?
But you may still be weary of the fact that population (head-count) is what counts more as the potential market is greater. But let’s take a simple example based on the benefits:
If you had to extract blood from all the types of animals on this planet for a project, would reserve an air ticket, apply for multinational visas, wait, then go to the airport, change planes, then land in some country in Africa, then hire an interpreter and tour guide, then drive around the bushes and deserts, and drive from country to country looking for the different animals? Or would you take a trip along to the local zoo?
If you were looking for someone to invest in your next big idea, would you try out intercepting people on the street hoping for a guy with a fat wallet? Or would you rather go to a National Venture Capital Association’s annual conference?
It’s down to basics. It’s the same way you target your audience in your marketing plan. But it’s on a bigger scale. Think of it. Today, we’re all part of some group. Meetup.com is an exemplary model of how we are connected. On a macro scale, some countries are simply more connected than another. And China and India, despite their mass population, aren’t quite connected yet. They have too many dialects, too many cultures. Until there’s a way to connect them all, meanwhile, it could be more efficient to look into countries that have a stronger point which brings people together.