In his first speech in a public forum since he became chief executive of The Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. in October, Liam E. McGee said the company learned hard lessons from the recession and is listening more to its customers.
Speaking before a business audience in Hartford on Friday, he talked about three major trends that will shape business in the future: customers taking control, increasing diversity and globalization.
The solutions aren't necessarily simple, McGee said, especially when it comes to understanding customers.
"Modern technology enables anyone to access products and services wherever and whenever they want," McGee said. "That means a mobile phone can also be a shoe store or a bank; eBay's acquisition of PayPal means a website can also be a global payments platform."
If Facebook were a nation, McGee pointed out, the social networking website's 350 million users would make it the third largest country after China and India.
"We are in a fast-moving, unpredictable world where established businesses risk being leapfrogged not by their competitors, but by their customers," he said. "There's a new generation of wired consumers and entrepreneurs who have never been in a bank or shopped in a mall or worked anywhere but in their homes."
The rising percentage of Asian, Hispanic and African Americans will literally change the face of customers. Financial decisions are rooted in a person's culture, background, experience and age, he said, and The Hartford is trying to keep up with that customer base.
McGee mentioned the competition from, and increasing number of potential customers in, growing "mega regions" of the globe.
"Last year, for the first time, Chinese consumers bought more cars, refrigerators and desktop computers than Americans," he said.
The Hartford launched a new website in December and began a major marketing campaign that ranges from red stress balls for human resource administrators to 30-second TV spots and magazine ads. The campaign highlights 2010 as The Hartford's 200th anniversary.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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