Innovation Insight | Looking across industries

Three reasons why a cross-industry perspective will keep you ahead of the game

Cross industry approach
It’s one of the few certainties in the commercial world: what we see today in one industry will migrate and impact another. For forward-thinking businesses, the ability to anticipate these shifting trends could be the difference between success and failure.
Merely anticipating them, however, isn’t enough. At Stylus, we equip brands to capitalise on change by giving them a cross-industry vantage point. Here’s why this approach is essential.
3. If you work within an industry silo, you’re running blind

It’s fine to be inspired by goings-on within your own industry, but a word of warning from the front line: chasing intra-industry trends just doesn’t cut it anymore. The fashion brands we work with know it’s no longer enough to emulate another designer’s signature detail; likewise, our retail members know that opening a pop-up concept store just because a competitor has is pointless. In today’s increasingly fast-paced world, the key to success lies in the cross-pollination of ideas from different industries. Think beauty brands cottoning on to organic products after the food and beverage industry, the instantaneousness of Uber mirroring Amazon’s high-speed retail experience, or the travel industry being inspired by Netflix’s micro personalisation.

High speed innovations
Industry silos encompass consumer journeys as much as products or services. Cars have traditionally been sold in a particular way; what if they were sold like holidays? Breaking free of silos is about breaking category conventions. This is something we constantly remind our members of – brands get so embedded in their own category that it can take something truly disruptive, like taking consumer journeys from other industries, to think afresh and, ultimately, innovate successfully.
2. Industry-disloyal consumers will punish single-industry mindsets

All consumers are industry-disloyal. They have no sympathies for practical constraints – if something works well for them there, they expect it here. That’s why touchscreens went from phones to homes and cars, and why public transport smart cards fuelled trust in contactless payments. To anticipate shifts like these – and to give consumers what they want, before they realise it – your brand must have a cross-industry outlook.

Touchscreen innovations
If it does, it can also connect with consumers who, aside from being industry-disloyal, care far more about issues like sustainability, social responsibility and ethical business practices. This is why we advise brands to look beyond their traditional focus points. Take car manufacturers, which have started using bioplastics after seeing the material’s positive impact – from both an environmental and consumer perception standpoint – on the packaging industry.

1. You’ll discover a world of transformative technologies and insightful influencers

If you don’t look beyond your industry, you’ll miss out on emerging, potentially game-changing technologies – new production processes, for example, or augmented and virtual reality (VR) innovations. Take new-gen tech that enables on-site manufacturing. Could sneaker brands use this to satiate consumers’ ever-growing demand for personalised products? Or could digital retailers, keen to physically engage with consumers, offer VR experiences that embrace characteristics from the real world – like the ability to interact with other shoppers?

Next-gen technology
Looking at other industries also gives access to their influencers, many of whom address cross-industry issues like diversity, sustainability and wellness. For a luxury brand, this could mean understanding – ahead of the game – that the concept of ‘luxury’ is moving away from wealth and excess towards mindfulness and acting on resource scarcity. Such insights, if actioned correctly, come with huge commercial rewards.
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