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We have what they want…

If you haven’t read the article, “The Power of the Post-Recession Consumer”, you really should.  It will restore your faith in the fraternal system and convince you that we have what modern consumers want.  Simply reading it won’t change your society’s performance; but it may give you the fodder you need to reinvent your society and capture the market share fraternals have lost over the past century.  Here are a few key findings…

  • Consumer spending patterns are changing as a part of a trend that has been quietly gathering strength over the past 10 years. Say hello to a lifestyle more focused on community, connection, quality and creativity. People are returning to old-fashioned values to build new lives of purpose and connection. They also realize that how they spend their money is a form of power, and are moving from a mindless consumption to mindful consumption, increasingly taking care to purchase goods and services from sellers that meet their standards and reflect their values.
  • This Spend Shift movement will create opportunities for businesses that heed its message, and penalize those that do not.
  • More recently, surveys show sharp increases in the number of consumers who want positive relationships with marketplace vendors and who focus more on corporate behavior.  The brand attributes Americans found more important as they began to sense the impending recession and then suffered through the crisis were:  “kindness and empathy” (up 391 percent), “friendly” (up 148 percent), “high quality” (up 124 percent) and “socially responsible” (up 63 percent).
  • The reference to “kindness” is not a typo.  Between 2005 and 2009, U.S. consumers expressed a nearly fourfold increase in their preference for companies, brands, and products that show kindness in both their operations and their encounters with customers. This desire for companies to be more empathetic toward consumers is the biggest shift in any attitude that we have ever seen.
  • Our data suggests that kindness and empathy are now dominant discriminators in commerce, and are valuable attributes of the best companies. The ability of a company to identify with it customers is now a prerequisite for any brand in the post-crisis age. Today, openness, humility, and understanding are critical. Generosity binds a company to its community and its stakeholders. The rising importance of generosity reflects the fact that the post-crisis era will be defined by inclusion rather than exclusion. The emphasis is on being more human and humane in transactions with others, and people will set these same standards for the businesses with which they deal.

Reinventing fraternalism one society at a time…

In a development that can only be described as earth-shattering, Catholic Holy Family Society announced this week that its Board has hired Jaki Gardner as the organization’s new Chief Operating Officer .

Jaki Gardner

This kind of out-of-the-box thinking is atypical of the fraternal system – and a brilliant example of how a society’s executives and Board can help reinvent an organization (and contribute to the reinvention of an entire industry) by painting in big, bold strokes.

Jaki has all the qualities you’d want in an executive.  She’s intelligent, articulate, open-minded, decisive and fearless.  Those of you who attended the 2010 Presidents Section Mid-Year Meeting know first-hand her willingness to tackle the toughest issues societies are facing – solvency, relevance, and governance – in a straightforward, no-nonsense manner.

During my tenure as CEO of the Alliance, Jaki, in her role as Minnesota’s Assistant Commissioner of Insurance and an influential regulator at the NAIC, has helped create a healthier regulatory environment for fraternals not just in her home state but nationally.  She understands that an effective regulatory system needs to balance consumer protection with rules that don’t limit competition by driving small players out of the market.  I know she’ll bring this fair-mindedness to her new role as COO of CHFS.  Congratulations to you, Jaki.  And congratulations to CEO Jim Rial and the CHFS Board for their courageous and wise decision.

You can meet Jaki – and see literally hundreds of your other peers and – at the American Fraternal Alliance’s Annual Meeting next month in Denver.  It’s not too late to register.  Just click here and sign up today.

2 Responses

  1. […] in an environment where consumers want to deal with companies that provide value and values (see my previous blog posting for more on this), more and more for-profit corporations are getting serious about their […]

  2. […] you’ve read the past couple of blog postings, you know that there is incredible potential for fraternals to capitalize on the desire for many […]

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