On marketing planning: How VUCA has faded into oblivion to re-emerged as a new normal


On marketing planning: How VUCA has faded into oblivion to re-emerged as a new normal

The acronym of VUCA stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity. It has been proposed as early as 1987 by Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus alerting leaders to the need for highly flexible, vibrant, agile and adaptive style of acting and thinking. Such a notion was a little premature at that time, where the only disappearing anchor of the world order was the dissipating bipolar world divided between two world superpowers. The business world, however, was up for a big shift towards globalization and rapid economic development in Asia and Eastern Europe. Then, VUCA has been forgotten or even neglected in the business literature.
Colloquially, marketing planning refers to an (annual) operational process, in which companies gather relevant market data and define marketing strategies and tactics for the next period. A marketing plan may include target segments, comparative positioning, promotion tools, product and service offerings, pricing policies and distribution channels. All projected strategies, tactics and actions make up a budgeted marketing plan. However, last 2007-2008 global crisis taught us two lessons: 1) to treat plans more like sketches and not definitive roadmaps carved in stone, and 2) to make sure that every dime is spent responsibly, hence efficiency metrics became more ubiquitous yet confusing.
VUCA resurfaced in about 2010, complementing discussions about the New Industrial Revolution, digital transformation and unpredictable dynamics of technological advancements. Some long-standing business models were challenged and new industries emerged. Disruptive innovations highly affected and redefined media, publishers, entertainment, photography, finance, retail, telecommunication and postal services to name a few. Since, it has been widely accepted even by conservative business sectors such as banking or automotive that future becomes harder to predict, strategic scenarios allow and consider a greater variety of options, and companies shall intentionally look for ideas beyond the usual boundaries. Disruptive businesses do not hesitate to take the low-end of an established market first to ignite market growth. Disruptive ideas combine, integrate and converge the unusual.
Economies around the world experienced a decade-long unprecedented growth with occasional signs of possible slowdown. As we are progressing through 2020, projections for the deepest economic downturn since the Great Depression have turned into reality. VUCA has suddenly become the new normal. It is certain, that our world is uncertain. Volatility is the new constant and its amplitude stretches beyond imagination. Simplistic acknowledgment of complexity is an excuse for insufficient understanding and inability to act in a straightforward way. Attempting for clarity of thoughts and ideas in the dynamically changing world is ambiguous by definition. No more we need to understand what VUCA means and assumes, no more a greater need for analytics, the time has come for bold (not necessarily right or righteous) decision-making. Strategic blue oceans will be superseded by new galaxies.
For marketing planning, it means that the entire largely operational process is going to be soon re-defined. Marketing plans will be adaptive, able to quickly refocus to different target segments, accommodate sudden changes to budgetary constraints, streamline analytics to simplistic messages. Three types of near future customers shall be expected. Traditionalists and blind conservatives always existed, but revolutionaries will be new. Traditionalists will look desperately for anchors and elegiacally worship the world we used to know it before 2020. They will be aware of changes around them but will rely on known quantities such as brands or distributors. Traditionalist know the world has changed but it is not for them. Blind conservatives will try to pretend nothing has changed and will exercise as normal consumer behavior as possible. They will actively neglect new offerings or new ways of delivery. Revolutionaries will deliberately pursue new patterns of consumer spending – either because of their fluctuating personal income or because of a wish to find new personal equilibrium which makes them ready for the unexpected. Revolutionaries will lead the New Consumer Revolution.


O marketingovém plánování: Jak byl zapomenut a znovu objeven akronym VUCA, aby se stal novou normou

Akronym VUCA se vynořil v roce 1987, kdy se rozpadalo bipolární pojetí světa, aby byl znovu objeven v časech po ekonomické krizi let 2007 a 2008 a následně se stal samou podstatou podnikání v roce 2020. VUCA poukazuje na proměnlivost (volatility), nejistotu (uncertainty), složitost (complexity) a víceznačnost (ambiguity) dnešního světa. Disruptivní inovace, dynamický vznik a zánik zákaznických segmentů a celková nepředpověditelnost budoucnosti přinesou důsledky i pro marketingové plánování.

Kontakt na autorov/Address

doc. Ing. Pavel Štrach, Ph.D., Ph.D., ŠKODA AUTO Vysoká škola o.p.s., Katedra marketingu a managementu, Na Karmeli 1457, 293 01 Mladá Boleslav, Česká republika, e-mail: [email protected]