Southeast Produce Council's Southern Exposure 2021 Keynote Speaker Duncan Wardle Discusses Consumer-Centric Strategy
MILLEN, GA - Southeast Produce Council’s (SEPC) Southern Exposure 2021 is right around the corner, and we at ANUK can feel the excitement mounting. One of the keynote speakers this year is Duncan Wardle, Founder of iD8 & innov8 and former Head of Innovation and Creativity at Disney, who I had the pleasure of speaking with in anticipation of the show.
“I started my business because I was tired of hearing ‘We must innovate.’ Nobody is teaching people how, which is what I intend to do. I provide tools that make innovation easy, creativity tangible, and the process fun,” Duncan began, giving me a bit of background on his expertise. “You have to give people a toolkit that they choose to use when you're not around. During my keynote, I’ll be giving event attendees some innovation tools and creative behaviors to stop from thinking the way they always do and give them permission to think differently.”
Duncan’s Design Thinking process puts the consumer at the forefront. While many organizations claim to be consumer-led, he asserts that the majority are product-led because the consumer’s actual experience is not factored into the creation process.
“I think, to a certain extent, there's an over-reliance on pure data alone. Data is getting more and more intuitive, but it cannot answer the question of ‘why’ a consumer enjoys a certain experience,” continued Duncan. “If I were to run a survey of 5,000 people to determine why they go to Walt Disney World on vacation, they would tell me they go for the attractions. But were I to ask ‘why’ four or five more times, I would discover the core consumer truth, which, for many people, is actually based on personal nostalgia and memories. This, in turn, would lead me to a communication plan, not a capital investment strategy.”
In many ways, Duncan explains that curiosity is a strong insight into consumer insights because it'll get you much deeper than initial data reports. Another thing he reminds me is that all competitors have the same data. So, therefore, companies must find an insight of innovation by looking somewhere differently than their competition.
“We must reinvent our business models for the future in order to thrive in what I call the experience economy,” Duncan said. “By this, I mean that we should be creating experiences rather than just products. If I were to ask you to name the seven most successful retail shopping malls on the planet today per square foot, you would probably not think to mention Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disneyland, Hong Kong Disneyland, or the Shanghai Disney Resort. While they are indeed some of the largest, we don’t think of them as retailers. We think of them as experiences.”
Part of Duncan’s approach to creating such experiences is rooted in innovation. That being said, he is deeply aware of how abstract such a concept can be, and aims to provide tools for operators to create their own experiences for consumers.
“The shift to virtual will have to move much, much quicker than I think people are aware of. Part of my keynote address is going to be helping people understand this. Many companies make attempts to ‘pivot’ their approach, which does not provide any concrete direction,” Duncan concluded. “It is now time to make a plan and innovate.”
Southern Exposure 2021 will be taking place Tuesday, April 6–Thursday, April 8 in Orlando, Florida. To register for the event, please click here. The session will also be available via livestream (and on demand afterward) from within the SEPC Virtual Garden for registrants who cannot attend in person.
We hope to see you at the show!