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The Extinction of the Politician

 
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When we don’t like something we’ve purchased what do we do? We return it. If a sales associate doesn’t provide the service ‘you deserve’, what do you do? You ask to speak to the manager. And when a CEO isn’t creating results? The board tells them “You are fired!” This is why it is so perplexing that we voters have become so complacent with Washington’s inability to get anything done. Why don’t we treat our government and politicians like brands, and hold them accountable, just like we would a brand that we patronize and enrich with our hard earned dollars? Their blatant inability to meet the tasks at hand, is not only what makes CEOs such an attractive option for presidential candidates, but what will ultimately lead to the extinction of the politician all together, unless they switch course and take a page from the brands we so admire.


Howard Schultz: Problem Solving and Human Connection

 
 

The latest CEO to contemplate a presidential candidacy is Howard Schultz–– former CEO of Starbucks. In his new book From the Ground Up Schultz offers a message that viscerally resonated with me. He offers “I have come to believe that people must not stand by in the face of human distress and broken systems. And if these two predicaments are intertwined––if human suffering is the result of others abdicating their responsibilities, or showing a lack of respect for another person––it becomes what can only be described as an injustice. In me, injustice sparks a restlessness I have tried to combat with the tools and resources I have at that time.”

This feeling of restlessness to fix things around oneself is one that I share with Shultz, and why I deeply admire him. His impetus permeates through the Starbucks brand and it is the reason why I choose to grab my daily coffee from the chain every morning. This need to problem solve, as I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, is also among the reasons why I think I decided to pursue a career in brand strategy––one that I hope to fuse with my other passion: Urban Planning and Community Development. Mastering how to properly communicate a message, change perception, and shape human behavior I thought was an imperative first step if I wanted shape the world around me.

Naturally, this sparks an interest of the role of strategy (or lack thereof) in politics, and is the reason why I am fascinated by the possibility of Schultz’s run for the presidency. At his very core, he is a strategist and he has built a multi-billion dollar brand understanding that Starbucks doesn’t just sell you coffee. It provides a space (a third space) to satisfy one, if not the most important of human needs: connection. This is what brings me (I am sitting at a Starbucks as I write this), to my local Starbucks everyday.

To believe in human connection doesn’t necessarily mean that I spark a conversation with every person at Starbucks––I am not much of a chatter box––but that I believe that we all have a responsibility to each other. Every time I buy a cup of coffee from Starbucks, I feel like I have an impact on those around me through the various initiatives the brand has implemented. As Schultz notes in his book, Starbucks “is in the business of investing In people.” At the end of the day we all want to become better versions of ourselves, we all want the reassurance that someone believes in us, and that we aren’t weaving through the world alone. I believe Starbucks evokes this. For some, human connection might in fact be materialized by Starbucks offering a third space to spark a conversation. For others like me, it is conjured up through the comfort of knowing that through the purchase of every cup of coffee, we are investing in people.


The Golden Circle

 
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Human connection is Starbucks’ why in what Simon Sinek calls the ‘Golden Circle’––a three layered circle that postulates the differentiating way that all inspiring leaders and organizations think, act, and communicate from the competition. Sinek suggest that every leader or organization knows what they do, some know how they do it, but very few know why they do what they do. Very few can communicate why they get out of bed every morning or why should others care. The why is the most important message that a brand on a path to success must communicate. This is because like the ‘Golden Circle,’ our brain is layered into three parts. Unlike the what which correlates to the neocortex of our brain––responsible for all rational and analytical thought and language––the why correlates to the innermost layer of our limbic brain, which is responsible for our feelings like trust and loyalty, for human behavior, and decision making. Thus, when we communicate our why to others we are targeting the part of the brain that controls behavior. Simply put, people don’t buy what you do but why you do it. Successfully communicating why, is what builds trust between brands and consumers. The why is something you don’t hear politicians communicating very often anymore, but you hear from the most inspiring brands of today; and it is the biggest take away that a politician can learn from a great brand like Starbucks.


The Impact

Starbucks in many ways has become my second home, and through an experience––I also think Starbucks is among the top echelons in the experiential economy––and a very strong sense of why, guests have developed and incredible attachment to the brand. The type of attachment that many politicians could only dream of––isn’t it the ultimate goal of politicians to ignite desire among their customers (voters) for their brand (their platform)?

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Yet, in a recent 2018 Gallup poll, 42% of voters identified as independents in 2017 (up from 39% in 2016), meaning that most voters aren’t very loyal to politicians. But people are loyal and trust brands, which is why these entities and those who lead them will continue to play a more prevalent role in government. I know what you are thinking: they already do, they lobby the shit out of Washington, and are the source of many of our current predicaments. However, the role that I envision brands playing in government, is one where they replace it in its entirety.

Below are some the best examples of CEOs and brands cutting the middleman—the politician—out and responding to the issues that plague their audiences. Their leadership is evident by choosing social conscientiousness over profit and by taking the right side––that of the consumer. Foremost, they demonstrate a strong sense of why, anchored in holding themselves accountable to the values they’ve promised to deliver, and on finding new ways of adding value and improving the lives of the people that patronize them.

1. B Strong by Skinny Girl CEO Bethenny Frankel

 
 

Perplexed by everyone telling her she could not go to Puerto Rico following the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, the entrepreneur's innate response was “well, isn’t that why I have to go?” This sense of urgency to help others was at odds with that of the Trump administration, which came under fire for its slow response and the lack of resources it provided the United States territory. Frankel had no time to partake in the political feuding, and showed more interest than those who voters commissioned to lead; noting that “planning a dinner party is probably as complicated as this.” Ultimately her no-nonsense take-charge attitude led to one of the largest private relief efforts amounting to $40 Million.

2. Delta:

 
 

In early 2018, CEO Ed Bastian issued a company-wide memo announcing an end to Delta’s discount program for NRA members; this amidst a swarm of petitions urging companies to cut ties with the group following the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High. This decision led Georgia politicians to revoke a $40 Million tax break on fuel, but as Bastian noted in his memo, “our decision was not made for economic gain and our values are not for sale.” Like Shultz, Bastian understands that Delta doesn’t just sell flights, it sells values that customers expect the airline to uphold. However, the biggest take away for politicians from Delta was offered by Bastian when speaking to Fortune Magazine, where he expressed that in trying to run the best airline on the planet “we have a responsibility to our customers, employees, and community partners to do the right thing.”

3. Nike:

 
 

Last September, the sportswear company released a spot narrated and starring Colin Kaepernick, the 49ers quarterback who sparked controversy for protesting the NFL National Anthem. In the spot Kaepernick goes on to say “believe in something even if it means sacrificing everything,” cementing Nike on the right side of history––one where the spectacle and profit of football does not trump racial justice. While not without backlash, the move by Nike led to a 31% increase in their online sales the week following their spot’s debut. Not only was Nike on the right side of history, but on the side of their customers.

4. Patagonia:

 
 

Patagonia’s efforts to protect the environment are well documented. For thirty years the brand has propelled efforts to protect public lands; and since 1986 it has donated either one percent of sales or 10 percent of profits––whichever is greater––to such causes. Two years ago, however, Patagonia raised the bar even further by going head to head with the Trump administration. In December of 2017, the brand used its website and social channels to display the message "The President Stole Your Land," ––in response to the administration’s decision to roll back protections to Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments––and  pledged that they would pursue legal action against Trump’s decision: “Patagonia, together with a coalition of Native American, conservation and historic preservation organizations, officially filed its complaint against President Trump and four members of his administration in federal court in Washington, D.C.” As Patagonia has learned over the last decade, “its business continues to grow every time it takes a stand. For Patagonia, a brand that still relies most heavily on outdoors enthusiasts for business despite its newfound fashion cache, that means recognizing that fighting to keep wild lands wild isn't likely to alienate core customers.” The result? In the last decade the brand has seen its most successful years in terms of business.


Disruption: Brands Take Over

The extinction of the politician is near, unless of course they follow the footsteps of today’s most inspiring brands. But what would a world where brands begin to meet the needs that politicians can’t look like? Apple can create a school of engineering, no brand has more legitimacy to provide us with healthcare than Equinox, and Patagonia will continue to protect our lands. What is the need for brands to lobby when they can just cut the middle man out and meet the needs of voters all on their own? As reflected by the examples above, brands have a track record of listening to their customers better than politicians.

As for Howard Schultz, he is just disrupting a system that vastly needs it. Isn’t that  exactly what every brand––from Amazon to Uber––that we glorify today has done? Government is in need of major disruption, and Schultz is just here to allow us to visualize it, and perhaps even realize it. You know how he’ll do it? By sharing his why.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the parties quoted.






What is a Collaboration for?

 
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What is collaboration for? At its finest it is the coming together of values. At its worse, it is a luxury brand’s attempt to crawl back into relevancy—riding on the coattails of the latest streetwear craze. Sadly the former is less common than the latter. While through well crafted collaborations brands have the ability to cast their story and magic to a wider audience and catapult two brands into power-couple status, they come with inherent risk. Poorly conceived collaborations can lead a luxury brand to lose its untouchable mysticism, its recognition for creative influence, and most dangerous of all: lose its core loyal audience.


Why Brands Collaborate

As the Business of Fashion offers, “the [collaborations] move comes as more and more luxury brands are tapping the cultural energy and business model of streetwear to stay relevant with millennial customers, who drove 85 percent of luxury growth last year and increasingly demand newness and novelty.”

At first glance this may seem as a genius strategy, as Gen-Z and Millennials will account for 45% of the global luxury market (Bain & Company) by 2025, but as another Bain report offers, Baby Boomers today continue to drive the demand for luxury consumption.

 
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And while Millennials and Gen-Z’s demand for street-wear brands like Kith and Supreme are important to recognize, the average age of an individual in the Gen-Z cohort is that of fourteen. Since when has it been so important for a luxury brand to be relevant to a fourteen year old? Are your thoughts today at all aligned with the thoughts of your fourteen year old self? At fourteen you haven’t developed strong enough of a palate to understand luxury. Luxury brands should of course create a strategy to ensure they remain among Gen-Z’s evoked set, but this strategy should not revolve around their seal of approval.

To the contrary of comments by David Fisher (founder of Highsnobiety), that “it is the luxury brands that are the ones that need credibility in the streetwear space, not the other way around,” true luxury brands do not waver through the trends. Their main goal is to remain influential and to elevate the customer at all times. It is a dual source of aspiration and achievement. This is why luxury is something that you grow into as you develop a strong sense of self and a point of view—an acquired taste. If luxury brands are irrelevant to teenagers today, it is not because they are doing something wrong, they simply haven’t acquired that taste.


A Temporary Rush

However, some brands have moved full speed ahead with a Gen-Z strategy— Balenciaga and Gucci to name a few. But at what cost? Demma Gvasalia may have made Balenciaga “cool”, but seems to have burned all of the brand’s archives and rich heritage along the way. As J N Kapferer and V Bastien offer in The Luxury Strategy; heritage (a unique know-how and culture) is one of the six criteria in defining luxury.

 
Source: Highsnobiety

Source: Highsnobiety

 

The end result? Like every other trendy brand before it, from Givenchy to Saint Laurent, Balenciaga and Gucci’s coolness and temporary profits will wear off. But they will be left with a bigger issue on hand. They will have corrupted their heritage and diluted their brand value; but most pressing of all: by the time this consumer reaches adulthood, and has the discerning point of view and the financial wherewithal to buy into luxury, the brand will be old news.  Luxury is about progress and achievement, it is about becoming a better version of ourselves. When that time comes for the young consumer of today, they will seek brands with rich histories that embody that rite of passage.


Risking Creative Influence

Then there are those who are argue that collaborations are necessary to keep things fresh and desirable. But true luxury companies have been doing this for decades without collaborations. And then there is the argument of nostalgia, that collaborations satisfy this yearning to go back to the past—the past does always seem more simple and romantic doesn’t it? But once again luxury companies have been revisiting the past and re-imagining iconic house codes without collaborations. Think of when CHANEL reissued the 2.55, or when Frida Giannini re-imagined the Jackie and Bamboo bags for Gucci. In these instances re-issuing a look or piece wasn’t simply bringing something back. It was a celebration of how an iconic item had changed a generation, and an exemplar way to show a brand’s stability through time.

 
Source: KITH

Source: KITH

 

The collaborations that inundate us today do neither of the aforementioned. They don’t raise the bar of craft or creativity— providing a vision of what could be—nor do they re-interpret the past. All that collaborations do is smash logos together, from Louis Vuitton and Supreme, Kith and Tommy Hilfiger, to Ralph Lauren and Prime. At times, this smashing of logos comes from companies that don’t even make any sense—I am still trying to wrap my head around the Coca-Cola and Kith collaboration.

 
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Once again I ask, at what cost? Luxury fashion used to be looked upon for continuously pushing the boundaries, and leading the way. Think of CHANEL and the little black jacket, Yves Saint Laurent and Le Smoking, or Marc Jacobs and grunge. But with a single collaboration, Ralph Lauren which for decades was the truest symbol of a lifestyle luxury brand, has corrupted decades of a perfected dream. 


Risking Core Loyal Audience

 
 

As Jacobs notes in an article by Cathy Horyn, discussing his then infamous grunge show, these collections had an impact because they didn’t seek to cater to the desires and understanding of the masses. Unlike those of today, collections like Jacob’s were intended for a special group, “a very specific and special group that understands the vocabulary, the irony, the perversity, and the content of it. So, it’s almost by definition not something that most people should see.”

While not intended for everyone, they did make you stop and think, adding to the brand value. Today in pursue to cater to all and drive sales, designers create a couple of good sneakers for the kids to post about and call it a day. But a lack of provocation remains, and when the earnings-rush dissipates, that legitimacy for clairvoyant creation will too have faded.

 
Source: WWD

Source: WWD

 

But that’s not all. Once a brand has lost its raison d’être, the social-fabric that connects those who Jacob’s refers to as a “special group” is gone. Take Supreme as an example, its collaboration with Louis Vuitton may have been a commercial success, only to have alienated those who truly understood the brand’s essence. As a skater in the Lower East Side told WWD  “I think [the collaboration] it’s stupid as s–t,” adding that “it solidifies Supreme’s place in fashion, which is so stupid. They started the brand as a f–k you to fashion, and now they’ve become it.”

Skaters were the subculture that kept the Supreme flame on. As Ana Andjelic offers in Brands Must Hack Culture, “a subculture is made up of people who are more informed and passionate about a topic than anyone else. They are likely to be beta-testers, source material, and advocates for a new product or service.” When a brand loses those who are spreading its message with such gravitas, the brand is done. 

So then, what’s a collaboration for?


Collaborations Done Right x The Ultimate Collaboration

In its most basic form a collaboration should be about the coming together of values between collaborator and luxury brand. It is an opportunity to share a brand’s voice to another audience, but both brands must individually have a strong sense of self. It creates the ultimate power-couple and lifts both brands. Such is the Apple Watch collaboration with Hermès. Both brands were able to touch consumers that previously seemed unreachable, and both retained their essence and legitimacy.

As for my vision of the ultimate collaboration, I vote CHANEL X Patagonia. Neither brand needs the other insofar brand relevance is concerned. But each individually is propelled by a strong set of values—values from which they will not waver for temporary profits—that when combined could catapult them to power-couple status. Moreover they both have incredibly discerning subcultures, both which are willing to pay a premium to amplify the brand’s mission. Through a collaboration both could spread their missions even further. 

Source: USA Today

Source: USA Today

Source: Patagonia

Source: Patagonia

And while a dichotomy between both does exist—no one would offer that Patagonia is the most fashionable, nor that CHANEL is the most environmentally cautious—this is exactly why both ensemble could strengthen their brands. The luxury consumer is increasingly altruistically inclined, and spreading Patagonia’s message to CHANEL’s vast consumer base would be a huge step. Furthermore, this collaboration would provide CHANEL’s audience with that provocation they so yearn for. From The President Stole Your Land, to Don’t Buy This Jacket, Patagonia has proven time and time again that it is an expert in provoking thought through its communication efforts.

Some may cry sacrilege, that a CHANEL X Patagonia collaboration would destroy a dream. However this move would not risk CHANEL’s untouchable mysticism, its recognition for creativity influence, nor alienate its core loyal audience. If anything, this collaboration would give us something grander to dream about, and that is what a collaboration is for.

Where To?

Gearing up for autonomous cars, through brand loyalty strategy

As I transition into a career in strategy, I am often asked what industries interest meWhile my passion for fashion luxury has overwhelmingly declined (it is all a saturation of recycled 90’s trends, streetwear, and designer roulette), I still hold an affinity for luxury. My attention however, has turned to industries that in my opinion are the new purveyors of luxury—health and fitness for example. But people are often perplexed by my interest in the automotive industry. This makes all the more sense, when you learn that I have driven a car only a handful of times and that I don’t have a driver’s license. But I do indeed love cars, they satisfy three of my passions: luxury, consumer experiences, and transportation.

I have always been interested in transportation. When I visited Paris for the first time when I was fourteen, all I wanted was to ride the TGV. When I was kid, I would take maps of the Bay Area and draw what I thought would be the perfect subway system. Maybe it was the strategist within me, but all I wanted was to make the city more efficient. It is no surprise that  transportation policy was my favorite class while studying Urban Planning. Like Advertising, Urban Planning fed my need to problem solve and conjure up visions of what could be.

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That is exactly why I am so enthralled by the automotive industry. Some may be daunted by advents such as Lyft and Uber, autonomous cars, scooters, or hyper-loop, and how they will turn the industry on its head. However, this only provides us with opportunities to problem solve and innovate. Opportunities that can lead to beautiful consumer experiences and the nurturing of loyal relationships between brands and their customers. At the end of the day this is a strategist’s truest value—to intimately understand how clients make money, and see opportunities. Like Foucault once said: “I'm no prophet. My job is making windows where there were once walls.”


The Autonomous Cars Are Coming

According to Henrik Christensen, head of UC San Diego's Contextual Robotics Institute, children born in 2017 may never experience driving. This is because all of the major car companies plan to have fully autonomous cars in 10 to 15 years. Leading the pack is Ford who plans to have an autonomous fleet on the road for ride-hailing by 2021.

However it is not as easy as “if you build it, he will come”, and auto companies that are betting on this strategy are in for a surprise. This is because it is not just the technology of cars that is changing. Consumer sentiment and behavior when it comes to transportation is shifting as well, meaning that driver and consumer experiences will also have to be overhauled. Automakers that plan to remain relevant come 10-15 years, must remain cognizant of these changes to meet the needs of their consumers.


The Transportation Paradigm Shift

The biggest shift within transportation policy comes from ride sharing. Since their inception, ride-share companies like Lyft and Uber have completely changed the way we move around cities. I moved to New York City three years ago, and still haven’t hailed my own cab. While not without their fair amount of controversy, these platforms are more efficient, economical, safer, and seamless. These benefits are only possible because of their mobile platforms, which are as indispensable as Instagram on your phone. However, have ride-sharing platforms also changed our perception of owning a car?

While this might be a stretch, consumer sentiment (especially that of Millennials and Gen-Z cohorts) towards car ownership has changed, with overall interest in owning a car decreasing. Two additional reasons to car sharing that are driving Millennials and Gen-Z to opt out of owning a car are: (1) The Fifth Migration and (2) an overall shift in how we spend money and share our status among our peers.

The term Fifth Migration was first coined in 2005 by Robert Fishman, Professor of Architecture and Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Michigan, to describe people leaving suburbia to repopulate American cities. This phenomenon is largely driven by Millennials. According to a 2014 Nielsen report 62% of Millennials lived in urban centers where they have the access to amenities like shops, restaurants, and offices. Perhaps an even more important figure is that 40% of these individuals would like to remain in urban areas, often only choosing the suburbs because they are priced out of expensive city centers. “As a result, for the first time since the 1920s growth in U.S. cities outpaces growth outside of them.”

With such an influx of individuals into American Cities, Urban Planners and Traffic Engineers have had to completely rethink how to design cities. In an effort to maintain efficient, healthy, and safe communities; planners have opted for initiatives that give automobiles less priority, like road diets and protected bike lanes. New York City for example added more than 1000 miles of bike lanes (100% protected), between 2008 and 2018.

In addition to The Fifth Migration there has been a paradigm shift in consumerism, where consumers are opting to spend their money on experiences instead of tangibles. I explore this further in The Luxury Cultural Tension. While in the past owning a car was a status symbol and part of the American dream, Millennials and Gen-Z don’t care to own things. As Sheryl Connelly of Ford Motor Co. offers, members of the Gen-Z don’t see their car as a status symbol and are “much more likely to find value in experiences than they are to find value in things.”  

This shift in how Millennials and Gen-Z spend money, and their sentiment towards ownership is something that Volvo has caught on to, recently creating the Care by Volvo program. In an attempt to make the brand relevant to a generation accustomed to subscription services such as Netflix, Spotify, and the iPhone Upgrade Program, Care by Volvo allows drivers to sign up for a 24-month subscription service that includes insurance, maintenance and concierge services for a flat $600 monthly fee.


From Goods to Services

Christensen is not alone, both Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Lyft co-founder John Zimmer, believe car ownership will cease to exist in 20 years. While some automotive companies may produce autonomous cars for those at the top of the income bracket, because “the technology would prove expensive for individual consumers most will not own a car. In effect we will do away with car financing, as people “pay to use one of many “fleet” cars, provided by vendors such as Waymo, Uber, Ford etc.”

My vision is that the automotive industry will come to mirror the airline industry. Instead of paying for a product you are paying for a service, as most individuals can’t just go out and buy a plane. Thus, for most commuters the experience won’t be all that different from ordering a Lyft or an Uber—except that these cars will not have any wheels, pedals, or hand-operated gears. Passengers will get in, and the autonomous vehicle will transport them to a pre in-puted destination.

However, just how there are those who own private jets, or travelers who prefer to fly business or first class, some people will want something a little more special from their autonomous ride. Therein lies the opportunity to provide consumers with beautiful experiences. In addition to reports showing that autonomous cars will be safer; by not having to drive cars ourselves, autonomous cars are giving us the most amazing gift of all, time. What will we do with all this extra time inside these cabins of the future? Surely there has to be a difference between riding with BMW, Ford, Rolls Royce, or Volvo. From sleeping, relaxing, to making an espresso, or simply watching a movie; what automotive companies decide to do with their cabins will have a deep impact on the loyalty of their customers.

 
 

Volvo for example foresees two viable business spaces where its brand will operate. The first is B2B, where businesses will buy into Volvo’s autonomous service and offer it as a perk to its employees or clients. The autonomous service would be “door-to-door travel with a plethora of amenities." Another space where the brand plans to compete in, is that of short haul flights, where it provides a hassle free alternative to the 125 mile trip between Los Angeles and San Diego for example.

Rolls Royce on the other hand is hunkering down on ownership, believing that the answer to the future of transport is “simply staggering in the extremism of its opulence and swagger.” With the Rolls Royce 103EX, the automaker plans to stand apart by feeling a void in the commoditized market of transport: the void of beauty, space and form. Instead of the usual elements in car, like a steering wheel, Roll Royce has packed this “luxury cocoon” with details such Macassar wood for the interior, and a carpet of "hand-twisted silk." As it notes on its website, “the interior space is designed to be a retreat from the world – evoking a feeling of privacy, warmth and ultimate relaxation.”

Source: The Verge (2016)

Source: The Verge (2016)

Source: The Verge (2016)

Source: The Verge (2016)


Building Loyalty Today for The Cars of Tomorrow

While we can’t know for certain what cars will look like ten years from today, it is suffice to say we will not be driving them. And while some automotive companies have always been known to lead the luxury way (Rolls Royce for example), it is only a matter of time before they all have similar amenities. When you think about it, is there really a difference between flying American or United Airlines? Without implementing a brand loyalty strategy today, and ensuring that the brand remains within consumers’ evoke set, automotive companies are setting themselves for an uncertain business climate, like that of the airline industry.

 
Source The verge.jpg
Source: NPR (2017)

Source: NPR (2017)

 

Key in earning this loyalty, is car companies investing in their own proprietary car-hailing platforms. However unlike Lyft and Uber, which are available to everyone, these car-hailing services would only be available to customers of the brand. Take Volvo for example, the brand could add this service to their Care by Volvo program. Should you need a ride to the airport, or perhaps had one too many drinks at the bar, you can request Volvo to come and pick you up. If you own a Volvo and love it, why would you have to sacrifice the experience you have come to love by riding in an alternative? Volvo should be there throughout every transport experience.

Another way to build interest and loyalty for the brand today, is by extending your services into untrodden territories. Ford for example has created a bike share program in the Bay Area, for those who have no interest in buying a car. The purpose here is to remind the consumer of the brand at the nexus of their transportation journeys. I for one think an auto company should take over a subway car or station in New York, charge a premium, and retrofit it to offer an experience that includes designated seating, coffee/ breakfast, and most importantly a clean smelling space.

 
 

Encore

I am often perplexed at the dismay on people’s faces when they hear that today’s youth may never experience driving a car—as if something was being taken away. However this could not be further from the truth. For the majority of car owners, the driving experience is tied to commuting—86% according to a Census report. Furthermore as the Washington Post offers, not only are these commutes a waste of precious time, they are also associated with negative impacts on our health and quality of life such as: obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, back and neck pain, divorce, depression and death. Autonomous cars will change that, and make the commuting experience a healthier and more memorable one.

Moreover, as autonomous cars take over the mundane task of commuting, automotive companies can double down their innovation efforts of leisure and sport on manual cars. An example of this in practice comes from Land Rover, which through Land Rover Experiences, allows you to test their fleet of cars through different off-road terrains with the guidance of an instructor. Not only do these experiences allow consumers to push themselves, learn new skills, and explore, but in addition it strengthens their bond with the brand.

 
 

I envision that brand strategies of automotive companies will come to more and more resemble that of Land Rover; where consumers can experience their fleets to their full potential. Imagine Autobahn-like corridors where you can race Aston Martins or Lamborghinis. These experiences will finally make the sensation of freedom and exploration that is so fondly associated with cars a reality.

The truth is that autonomous cars aren’t taking anything away, to the contrary of critics, they are providing us with a world of opportunities. Now only one question remains: where to?