the future of planning
Adopting share of life thinking
Saatchi & Saatchi's chief strategy officer on the new way strategic success should be measured
13 September 2022
To my mind there is only one game in town for strategists in our industry – to find growth. It’s what our agencies need, it’s what our clients crave and it’s what our economies demand.
That means understanding how brands and the businesses they represent, get out of the share of market business and into the share of life business. Because share of market is failing us. Except for those sectors that are joyfully experiencing natural growth, most of the places our clients play are low growth sectors now under huge cost of living pressure. Hoping the market grows and takes you with it is no longer a great look.
My favourite comparison and the two streaming giants Netflix and Disney+. There are many reasons for the subscriber decline at Netflix but at its heart they are fighting for share of market in the highly contested and economically challenged content streaming business. There are many reasons for the subscriber growth at Disney+ but at its heart is that they understand they are a share of life business competing across multiple category entry points from Saturday nights in, to educational support and 6am childcare. As a result they are more attractive and more resilient.
Of course, share of market thinking has a classic strategy pedigree, a set of rules and practices in part set down through decades of IPA awards papers and hardwired into the effectiveness blockchain as the IPA databank. Not to mention Ehrenberg Bass.
But share of life thinking is rather different. If growth must come from new and adjacent activities and entry points rather than the maxed-out day job, it requires an ability to reimagine the life of businesses and the brands that represent them. It demands the ability to answer Peter Drucker’s famous question – what business are you in? But do so in a way that is expansive enough to open-up the remit of the brand, authentic enough to give that brand a chance of winning and innovative enough to direct the business to inspirational product and experience delivery in these new spaces. These are not universal skills and there is no blueprint for success.
So, while right now the strategist’s task feels like hand-to-hand combat for market share, the direction of our discipline must be to reimagine the brands in our care so that they are able to serve more of people’s lives and more of their expenditure. To help our brands take a greater share of life.
Richard Huntington is chief strategy officer at Saatchi & Saatchi London