In a rapidly changing economy, partnerships are playing a key role in the survival of a business. Currently, companies face numerous challenges from increased globalization, emerging markets, social and environmental changes and technological advances that seem to move faster than anyone can keep up with. As a result, many companies may find themselves inadequately prepared. To survive, companies will need to continually reinvent themselves and rather than going at it alone, it is sometimes better to seek out other others with the expertise to fill a gap or to pursue a common goal together.
As collaborations and partnerships are likely to gain traction in the coming years, it is then advantageous for individuals and businesses alike to have knowledge of the kinds of partnerships that are out there regardless of the kinds of industry or how long it lasts. On a monthly basis, we compile a list of notable partnerships that have happened over the last month for your reading pleasure. Regardless of who you are, we hope that you find something that makes it worth your while.
Being aware of the partnerships that are taking place does give some insight into trends in the market. As partnerships have the potential to open up new frontiers in the economy through innovative solutions, it does provide a glimpse into emerging markets and trends that are currently taking place. Trying to understand, predict and catch trends is a difficult task and not everyone would have the same opinion as to what comes next but by looking at the partnerships done by companies who have the resources and expertise to conduct market research, it is possible to gain a clearer view of movements in the market.
Take for example the emerging esports and gaming industry. It wasn’t too long ago when video game competitions were mainly enjoyed by a small segment of the population. Now it is a global multi-billion dollar mainstream industry that is quickly becoming one of the dominant forms of entertainment. Advances in technology have allowed more and more people to become involved in video gaming and the industry has expanded beyond consoles to include movies, books, and merchandise related to iconic games. The prize money for an esports competition is increasing with the most recent prize money hitting the $30 million mark in the upcoming annual ‘The International’ Dota 2 competition. Besides that, many people enjoy watching gameplays by charismatic individuals across social media sites regardless of whether or not they own the game. Some of these individuals would go on to become celebrities in their own right earning millions of dollars.
It wasn’t too long before many companies begin to take note of the huge market of video game enthusiasts. Popular brands such as Coca-Cola, Nike, Mountain Dew and of course technology-related firms and entertainment brands are forging partnerships with elements in the growing gaming industry that includes media rights, advertisements, sponsorships, merchandising, distribution and ticket sales for certain events. As a testament to the popularity of video gaming, some of those partnerships may include those that seem a little unusual than what would have been expected for the gaming industry. Simon Property Group, the largest mall owner in America, for example, is turning to video games to give life to its dying outlets in an era where shopping malls are becoming a thing of the past. Movie theatres are also cashing in on the gaming industry with some theatres showing live esports tournaments in its venues and giving fans the opportunity to watch expert players compete on the big screen.
Partnerships done by other companies can serve as a model for those seeking to pursue their own partnerships. As the decision to have a partner is one of the most critical steps in the business and not one to be taken lightly, looking at the way other companies do their partnerships may provide a better idea of what to look for and the type of businesses that can be collaborated with. Rather than limiting oneself to relying on prior knowledge and experience, it’s convenient to have readily available examples to learn from. As many partnerships do fail, knowing the ways to approach and maintain a business relationship is not only important, it is crucial and mandatory knowledge for any businessperson to be aware of before embarking on their own partnership journeys.
On a related note, some unusual partnerships do take place and can become an inspiration for trying out new and experimental collaborations. Doing something unique is a sure way to generate publicity for the business and many brands have successfully used this strategy to increase their brand awareness. One such unique, yet successful partnership was a canine adoption program between Aloft Hotels and Charlie’s Angels Animal Rescue. Since 2014, the Aloft Asheville in North Carolina brought a dog from the animal rescue center to live in the front desk area. The dogs wore an “adopt me” harness and have the opportunity to interact with the guests. The program was a resounding success. Countless dogs were adopted not only by guests but also people from outside the hotel who had heard of the program and the hotel found a way to offer guests a memorable experience.
For those who aren’t in touch with contemporary social issues, going through some of these partnerships can be a gateway to becoming aware of some issues present at the local, national and global levels. For companies and other organizations looking to get involved, active partnerships, as previously mentioned can be taken as a gauge to see the kinds of partnerships that are possible to get an idea of how they are run. Companies gain an understanding of what others are doing to address an issue and can develop ideas for their own solutions and identify which organizations would make suitable partners.
The emergence of the internet and advancing technology has brought a high degree of interconnectedness between people around the globe. Near instantaneous sharing via social media and the ability to easily access a huge database of information on the web brought more attention and awareness to the many issues that plague society today and stronger demands to solve them. In response, collaborations between for-profit companies, civil services, and nonprofit entities have become more prominent in the last few decades as companies begin taking a more active stance on sustainability issues either by partnering with organizations that are involved in such matters or with other companies to research and develop their own solutions. Participating in such efforts can bring profound benefits to the company beyond just a good public image. It gives the employees a sense of purpose which boosts morale and improves employee satisfaction. Additionally, it bridges the gap between businesses and people and allows the company to interact with the public in a more personal manner.
Some, however, have criticized the involvement of for-profit companies in sustainability efforts, seeing it as nothing more than the use of altruism to cover for self-serving interests while ignoring some of the controversial activities that certain companies and industries have currently or previously engaged in. Others have encouraged such cooperation and may argue that companies, especially those with well-known brands are in a unique position to create change as they can reach out to a wide audience. Some companies also have the expertise and resources and can collaborate to deal with more serious issues that require larger investments and efforts. Finally, it can be difficult to remain neutral today as more and more problems become widely known. Silence in this sense can be perceived as a sign of compliance in an age where sustainability is increasingly seen as a shared burden.
The current economy has forced companies into rethinking their strategies on how to conduct their operations and one of the outcomes is an increase in innovative partnerships and collaborations between various industries. These partnerships provide companies with new opportunities to experiment with and/or develop new solutions to gain an advantage in a competitive market. It is worth mentioning that just knowledge of active partnerships isn’t enough. The most valuable information is found by trying to understand the factors that led to its creation in the first place. Not every partnership is absolute proof of a trend in a certain industry nor is it a one-stop indicator. Instead, it may be one part of a bigger picture.