Henriksen’s Predictions for the Future of Pest Management

|  September 10, 2013

It’s exciting, though a tad daunting, to think about what changes might be in store for the industry 20 years from now. That task is particularly challenging when seeing how tomorrow’s society will embrace marketing, considering many of the tools that will be used to promote businesses in 2033 haven’t been invented yet.

For example, the Internet has only been around since the mid-1990s. Yet, according to Pingdom,  there already are: more than 634 million websites joined by 51 million new ones a year; more than 2.4 billion Internet users; and more than 1 billion active monthly Facebook users. And, as a global society, we send more than 144 billion emails daily through a communication channel that’s only 20 years old.

While it’s almost impossible to predict what tools industry professionals will be using to reach customers in 2033, there are a few key trends that will affect marketing:

The face of the customer will change.

  • The “Silver Tsunami” is coming. By 2020, 25 percent of the U.S. workforce will be comprised of older workers, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Will this mean fewer customers will be home to tend to pest problems themselves, which will require our industry’s services more? Or does it mean older Americans might have less discretionary income for outsourced services such as professional pest management?
  • Today’s minorities will become the majority by 2050 (or earlier). Will collateral need to be in various languages? Will employees need to speak two or more languages? Are there cultural sensitivities for which we need to prepare?

Customers will receive information differently.

  • Marketers will have less control of their brands. We used to be able to control our brand’s image with carefully crafted messages. With the advent of digital and social media, those days are long gone as customer-to-customer interaction becomes more prevalent. Companies will need to be more attentive to buyer satisfaction to earn favorable recommendations and maintain customer loyalty.
  • News vehicles will change. Online news will dominate more, allowing consumers access to a lot of information, though many viewers will absorb only sound bites of news. Delivering messages visually will be more important. Photographs, videos and pictorial displays will prevail (think Instagram and Pinterest). Will this mean our future customers will be better informed, or less informed?
  • Smartphones will be portable computers. There were more than 6.8 billion cell phone subscribers in 2012, according to the International Telecommunication Union. The public is becoming more reliant on smartphones. Many predict PCs will become extinct. What kind of relationships and services will customers expect from this industry on their smartphones?

Society will demand healthy homes & businesses.

  • The younger generation will have less tolerance for pests. According to research by the Professional Pest Management Alliance, 54 percent of those younger than 35 who use professional pest control feel positively toward the pest management industry. That percentage will increase.
  • Healthy living will be expected. With the advent of electronic communication, we know more about healthy living than we’d like sometimes. Messages about the “ickiness” of pests will be pushed aside for messages that resonate more about the linkage between pests and health concerns.

Customers will require immediate gratification.

  • One-stop shopping will win. Perhaps we’ll see more PMPs offer other home services, or a growth in affiliated partnerships, for the convenience of customers.
  • Convenience, convenience, convenience will replace location, location, location. With the time crunch many consumers face, convenience might trump costs. But what will our 24/7 society expect from our industry’s responsiveness?

    The clearest picture in my marketing crystal ball is technology will be used more than it is now. What that technology will look like remains a mystery that will only be discovered once today’s schoolchildren develop it. pmp

You can reach Henriksen, NPMA vice president of public affairs and executive director of the Professional Pest Management Alliance (PPMA), at mhenriksen@pestworld.org

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