Tuesday, October 16, 2012

3 Business Trends Impacting Associations: Ripped from the Headlines

Three stories in the last week show association executives some key trends/issues that could impact associations and association members.

Here are excerpts of the stories ...
eBay unveils new logo, fresh look  
From USA Today via HispanicBusiness.com
EBay is hurtling into the digital age with a new logo, major redesign and aggressive plans to wade deeper into daily deals, search and shipping. Industry watchers say the changes are necessary, as more consumers opt for smartphones and tablets instead of PCs. "We believe every online experience will become organized around individual users and their preferences," says Jon Ehrlich, co-founder of social-commerce company Copious. On Wednesday, the company unveiled eBay Now, an app that offers "on-demand delivery service" of goods from local stores.

Hallmark decides to close plant as fewer cards get bought, sent 
From STL Today
“Say it's your birthday or you've had a baby, maybe gotten engaged or bought your first house. If you're like many Americans, your friends are texting congratulations, sending you an e-card or clicking "Like" on your Facebook wall. Over the last decade, the number of greeting cards sold in the U.S. has dropped to 5 billion annually from 6 billion annually, Hallmark estimates. The Greeting Card Association, an industry trade group based in White Plains, N.Y., puts the overall-sold figure at 7 billion.”
Wal-Mart delivers same day  
From the New York Times
Wal-Mart Stores kicked Amazon out of its 4,000 stores last month when it discontinued Kindle tablets and e-readers. Now, the retailer is poised to use those stores against its online rival once again — this time aiming for the heart of Amazon’s retail model. If Wal-Mart expanded its same-day shipping across the country, it could essentially transform the more than 4,000 Walmarts, along with Sam’s Club and other divisions, into distribution centers. Amazon, by contrast, had fewer than 40 distribution centers in the United States at the end of last year and has plans to add about 20 worldwide this year.

So, what do these business stories mean to associations? Three key points:

1. Rapidly expanding social media platforms suggest new updates to association websites
  • More visual. Mobile ready. When a major company (eBay) refreshes its website to “be more like Pinterest,” it suggests associations should be monitoring the trends that more and more of their members are experiencing.
2. Competition from online providers
  • Many associations continue to be print-focused ... claiming their members (especially their older members) don’t like doing business or receiving services online. Our challenge remains how to stay relevant without losing existing members. Did Hallmark remain print focused too long just as Kodak remained film-dominated too long? What changes are associations making to capture the online communities without losing their print-oriented base?
3. Instant delivery of programs/services
  • Amazon set the benchmark for quick delivering of products and services. It has grown from a book company to a full-product services company. It has enhanced its database to be able to personalize appeals to its “members.” Now, others such as Wal-Mart and eBay are adjusting their strategies and systems to meet the Amazon benchmark. As more and more of our members experience this quick, personal service, they will expect similar experiences with their professional and trade associations. 
What do you think? 
 Can your association adapt and adjust to provide services and experiences your members are receiving from companies?


  1. This only goes to show that business models are starting to march in step with the pace that technology and social media have. If they want to survive they have to adapt.