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Change is now. It is time to adapt

By: Jonathan Cherry, Issued by: | 6 Aug 2012 09:52
Twenty years ago, the only way that you could insure your car was by calling a broker who would put your business with the insurance company that they felt the most comfortable with. A lot of golf was played, commissions were paid and the system ticked along merrily.
A few clever entrepreneurs however realised that people were starting to prefer to control their financial affairs themselves. They weren't all too keen on lengthy phone conversations with a little grey man in a suit that didn't seem to do much but take their money and pay it to somebody else and so the direct insurance business was born. Today it's worth billions and little green and purple ads litter our newspapers everyday reminding you that any other choice is a foolhardy one.

The visionaries of direct insurance identified a trend and used that insight to build a busines model that changed the nature of insurance nationwide. As a business leader today, what new trends can you take advantage of? There is no shortage to choose from: mobile technology; the green revolution; the influx of the rural poor to the cities of the world. These global trends are set to radically change the way that companies engage with their customers and you have an opportunity to fully take advantage of them.

Understanding trends and then devising innovative business models based on this knowledge is now, more than ever, key to business success in Africa. Innovative global brands like Zara and Topshop are starting to take notice of the opportunities on the continent and the relative complacency of the existing businesses that trade here.

In just 10 years, Capitec has caught its competition napping and has innovated its way to now having over 500 branches and more than 3.7 million customers, but understanding that people really just want a simple, no-frills banking product that they can afford. Trend watches will tell you that this is called servicing the bottom of the pyramid. An opportunity completely ignored by the other banks, but very profitable for Capitec.

The only constant in life is change. Adapting to that change is crucial if your intention is to prosper.


About the author

Jonathan Cherry is the co-founder of Cherryflava Media, a trends and innovation company based in Cape Town and the editor of Catch Jonathan on August 17 at's Consumer Trend Seminar taking place in Johannesburg at The Venue Melrose Arch. For more information, visit