We should always be looking ahead — spotting emerging economic trends, uncovering new technology, and making educated guesses about how governmental regulations and shifting demographics affect the way pest management professionals (PMPs) conduct business.
Those who ignore the past may be destined to repeat it, but without forward thinking there would be no innovation, no new discoveries and no compelling reason to change the way things are done. With binoculars to eyes, Pest Management Professional (PMP) invites you to look down the road to pest management’s new horizons.
With the guidance of Bayer and the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), PMP presents this four-section, comprehensive special section featuring invaluable information (from those in the know) about: pest management science and technology; regulations and the environment; society and demographics; and economy and markets.
[Editor’s note: For more predictions about the future of pest management from a variety of industry voices, see our 80th Anniversary Special Supplement to PMP’s September issue, as well as this month’s Face Off column on page 8 of this issue.]
Future Trends and Implications for the Pest Management Industry
Society and Demographics
Editor’s note: This article is the first in a series of four trend summaries from Vision 2020, an initiative pioneered by Bayer and the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) to help guide and shape the future of the pest management industry. The multiyear initiative will identify future trends and equip the industry to enhance its value to society in the midst of emerging societal, economic, technological and regulatory issues. The following focuses on emerging trends and implications in the areas of society and demographics.
Nothing will affect the future of the pest management industry more than the seismic demographic shifts reshaping America. These shifts represent several important dimensions, each with its own implications for the industry.
Census experts believe the U.S. population will grow from 314 million in 2012 to 420 million in 2060 — a 40-percent increase in less than 50 years. These projections represent a slowing of population growth, an increase of the aging population and an increase of ethnic diversity. This growth, while minor compared to the baby boom years, will create households throughout the country.
Implications: With modest population growth will come a new wave of potential customers for pest management services.
Between now and 2020, America will continue aging as millions of baby boomers retire. This silver tsunami already is having a ripple affect on health-care costs, the housing market, the purchasing of goods and services and the labor market. According to noted futurist and author Glen Hiemstra, it won’t be long before more than 20 percent of the U.S. population is older than 65, resulting in a nation of 27 Floridas.
At the same time, a new generation of Americans is emerging, but they’re tech-savvy digital natives with a strong sense of community and a short career attention span.
Implications: This generational shift has significant implications from a customer and labor perspective. From a customer perspective, pest management professionals (PMPs) will need to anticipate the needs of seniors as they retire and relocate. PMPs also will have to anticipate the needs of younger consumers as they become first-time homeowners and parents.
PMPs will face a labor shortage, perhaps a labor crisis, as baby boomers retire. They’ll need to attract younger workers, which will require different approaches to recruitment (Millennials want to make a difference in the world), retention (Millennials are quick to change jobs) and training (Millennials want bite-size information delivered via technology). Most importantly, it will be a buyer’s market, so PMPs will have to become more aggressive about identifying potential applicants.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that by 2020, women’s participation rate in the labor force will be greater than men for the first time in history. Women also will continue their ascent as primary breadwinners in many households.
Implications: To recruit the best employees, PMPs will need to find a way to make pest management an attractive career for women, especially working moms. This might include offering flexible hours, nursing rooms and child-care benefits.
Race and Ethnicity
The face of America is changing. Between now and 2030, minority populations will account for 77 percent of the population growth; 40 percent will be Hispanics.
Implications: From a customer perspective, PMPs will need to attune their services and marketing efforts to the needs of an increasing Hispanic homeowner population. From a workforce perspective, PMPs will need to adapt their approaches to recruiting, retention and training.
While the country might be deeply divided on a range of political issues, there are some common values that continue to cut across age, gender and socioeconomic boundaries. These include consumer empowerment, sustainability and healthfulness.
Technology will continue to change the way people gather and share information, resulting in consumers who are smarter about purchase decisions and better able to communicate with others to support (destroy) products and services that don’t meet their expectations. These same consumers will hold companies more accountable for their behavior. More health-conscious consumers will want to be assured the products and services they buy won’t harm people or the environment.
Implications: PMPs will need to adopt the latest technologies to communicate with and serve the consumers empowered by massive amounts of data. They’ll also need to position their services in the context of changing values around sustainability and health. This might include adopting softer solutions, dialing up advocacy and education efforts and repositioning pest management so it’s less focused on bug killing and more focused on the benefits of protecting public health where people live, work and play.
Future Trends and Implications for the Pest Management Industry
Science and Technology
Editor’s note: This article is the second in a series of four trend summaries from Vision 2020, an initiative pioneered by Bayer and the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) to help guide and shape the future of the pest management industry. The multiyear initiative will identify future trends and equip the industry to enhance its value to society in the midst of emerging societal, economic, technological and regulatory issues. The following focuses on emerging trends and implications in the areas of science and technology.
Advancements in science and technology will continue to change just about every aspect of the professional pest management industry, from how we diagnose problems, to what we recommend and how we interact with customers. These advancements will be in several forms, each with its own implications for the industry.
The adoption of mobile computing devices — phones, tablets, auto devices and wearables such as glasses and watches — is accelerating rapidly. Pest management professionals (PMPs) and their customers will be carrying, wearing or driving around with more computing power and connectivity potential than at any time in history, improving their ability to communicate and solve problems effectively and profitably.
Implications: Mobile technologies will allow PMPs to improve scheduling and routing, saving time and fuel. They’ll also improve PMPs’ ability to communicate on the go with customers. Wearable technologies, such as Google Glass, will allow PMPs to capture pictures and data at the time of service, improving the diagnosis and treatment of pest issues.
Nothing has the potential to shake up the pest industry more than modern building materials and related technologies. These advancements include construction materials — made from novel polymers or composites, for example — that eliminate the threat of wood-eating insects. They also include exclusion technologies that will sense the presence of pests, or even repel or trap those pests through wireless signals or scents.
Implications: These technologies represent a prime opportunity to redefine solutions in a way that’s broader than conventional pesticides. It’s also an opportunity for PMPs to leverage their knowledge of pests with architects, engineers and construction managers.
The industry is just beginning to see softer chemical and biological products that work as expected and have improved safety or environmental profiles. This trend will continue as technology partners strive to meet the public’s growing desire for products that are effective and sustainable.
Implications: These products will give PMPs more options to meet customer needs and allow them to appeal to the natural pest control segment and give PMPs positive talking points about what they’re doing to continually strengthen their ability to control pests responsibly.
Americans generate more data in one year than in all previous years combined. That trend is expected to continue thanks to changing technology. An increasing amount of data will be available to those who choose to access it and use it to their advantage.
Implications: PMPs will need to invest in their ability to harvest data for insight into their customers’ behaviors and buying trends so they anticipate needs and tailor services. This will result in higher perceived value and stronger relationships.
Future Trends and Implications for the Pest Management Industry
Regulation and Environment
Editor’s note: This article is the third in a series of four trend summaries from Vision 2020, an initiative pioneered by Bayer and the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) to help guide and shape the future of the pest management industry. The multiyear initiative will identify future trends and equip the industry to enhance its value to society in the midst of emerging societal, economic, technological and regulatory issues. The following focuses on emerging trends and implications in the areas of regulation and environment.
Throughout the nation, in front yards, hotel rooms and businesses, signs beckon people to recycle, share a ride, conserve water, stop polluting, and countless other actions aimed at protecting the environment and natural resources. While no one can predict the future with any specificity, few question overall public awareness of environmental issues and intense regulatory scrutiny of pest control will continue to increase.
The Vision 2020 participants identified four key future trends and their implications relative to regulation and the environment:
1. Greater public understanding of exposure
Who hasn’t read headlines about the dangers of exposure to allergens associated with peanuts, cockroaches or fire ants? Thanks to an increasingly health-conscious society and an ever-expanding flood of health-related information, consumers are more aware of the potential effects of exposure to a full range of elements. Consumers are likely to become more attuned to these issues, as the push to keep people healthy continues.
Implications: Pest management professionals (PMPs) should play a lead role educating consumers about the role pests play in public health and the importance of professional pest management in protecting the health of individuals, families and neighborhoods. At the same time, PMPs must be more transparent about the potential health effects, if any, related to the exposure to pest control products.
2. Elevated concerns about water and air
Just as experts are concerned about producing enough food to feed an increasing world population, they’re also concerned about having enough water to meet residential and commercial needs. These same experts also express concern about the reduction of air quality, particularly in densely packed urban areas. Collectively, these concerns are likely to spark additional regulatory scrutiny and perhaps more restrictions aimed to protect the quality and quantity of natural resources.
Implications: Pests aren’t going anywhere, so people and businesses will continue to need a full measure of professional pest management. Given the potential for greater concern and scrutiny about environmental issues, professionals have a huge opportunity to introduce softer, more sustainable products.
3. Local vs. national regulations
The idea that all politics is local has never been truer than now. Thanks to perpetual gridlock in our nation’s capital and the challenges of reaching national consensus on a range of legislative issues, an increasing number of states and municipalities are opting to pass their own laws they see as fitting for their residents. Additionally, more special interest groups, including nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), find it easier to introduce legislation at the state or municipal level rather than the federal level. This trend is likely to accelerate in the years ahead, unless the winds of bipartisanship suddenly blow through Washington.
Implications: This trend provides pesticide critics with more avenues to pursue opposition of certain products or application techniques. As such, it will be critical for the professional pest management industry to build strong advocacy networks at the federal, state and local levels — especially online, given that many anti-campaigns are waged digitally. Having an army of respected, vocal advocates in all the right places will help protect the industry’s best interests in the increasingly decentralized regulatory environment. This trend represents more platforms to engage and educate policy makers and the public about the important role pest management plays in public health and the industry’s evolution from tool-based to knowledge-based solutions.
4. Climate change and population shifts
Most scientists agree climate change will have an impact on pest management from several perspectives. As regions of the country become warmer or cooler or wetter or drier, pest populations might shift accordingly, causing pests to enter or exit the scene. This, in combination with population growth and the emergence of mega-cities, is likely to aggravate health problems (allergies) or usher in new ones (vector-borne diseases).
Implications: The industry needs to be ready for the emergence of new pests in specific regions. With every changing condition comes a terrific opportunity for professionals to become the expert in educating residential and commercial customers and the changing world of pest management.
Future Trends and Implications for the Pest Management Industry
Economy and Markets
Editor’s note: This article is the fourth and last in a series of four trend summaries from Vision 2020, an initiative pioneered by Bayer and the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) to help guide and shape the future of the pest management industry. The multiyear initiative will identify future trends and equip the industry to enhance its value to society in the midst of emerging societal, economic, technological and regulatory issues. The following focuses on emerging trends and implications in the areas of economy and markets.
In the professional pest management industry, our goal is for commercial and residential customers to place a high value on the services we provide and the impact of those services on public health and quality of life. In other words, we want our services to have a high value-to-cost relationship.
The reality, however, is that the perceived value of what we offer — and what almost all industries offer — depends a lot on the overall economic forces at play. When consumer confidence slides and people begin to worry about jobs and disposable income, their willingness to invest in environmental protection, or green products, often wanes. Conversely, when economic forces drive prices too high — as is often the case with gas, meat or vegetables — even in good times, consumers will change their behavior accordingly, looking for more economic alternatives.
Perhaps more than any other dimension of the future, macroeconomic forces are going to affect most aspects of the professional pest management industry, including supply and demand. The Vision 2020 participants identified five key future trends and their implications relative to the economy and markets, as follows:
1. Household income
While things might change pending the performance of the overall economy, many economists predict the income gap between the wealthiest and the least wealthy will continue to grow, and that the average income might continue to decrease. This results in a smaller upper and middle class.
Implications: Smaller numbers of upper- and middle-income customers will mean two things. One, pest management professionals (PMPs) may be in greater competition for available business. Two, PMPs may need to explore marketing efforts that increase the perceived need for and value of professional pest management services among lower-income consumers.
2. Rising input costs
The price of raw materials has become increasingly less predictable, and that is likely to remain the case for the years ahead. This could affect the cost of fuel, fertilizer, utilities and other inputs.
Implications: Rising input costs of any kind will force PMPs to find ways to become even more efficient, or consider consolidating with other PMPs to obtain greater scale and efficiency.
3. Changing workforce
A seismic shift in the labor force will occur in the years ahead, one in which millions of older, white workers are replaced with millions of more ethnically diverse millennials. That’s the good news. The bad news is that there will not be enough of them to get all the work done.
Implications: This trend will force PMPs to change the way they recruit, train and retain workers. They’ll have to compete for the best workers, and they’ll have to explore new avenues for finding talent, perhaps in nontraditional places. The industry also must find ways to become more attractive for women, who are entering the workforce in greater numbers than men.
4. Housing market
The economy has taken its toll on housing. And while new home construction has picked up again, the number of people renting continues to grow at a disproportionately high rate. Further complicating matters is urban sprawl, which over time will result in major metro areas coming together to form mega-cities.
Implications: As the housing landscape changes, PMPs will need to consider how best to tackle emerging markets represented by new homeowners and property managers. This may include partnerships with smart building suppliers or others capable of offering a holistic approach to pest management. PMPs will also have to rethink their service territories and transportation strategies if they want to follow the sprawl — and the money.
5. Green economy
While spending on green products and services tends to wax and wane with the economy, most agree interest in environmental protection by government and consumers alike will continue to increase, and that sustainability will become a mainstream national value. Evidence of this includes the number of start-ups and investment funds aimed at developing green innovations capable of addressing environmental issues, creating jobs and stimulating the economy.
Implications: Demand for green innovations will continue to grow. The key to capturing value, however, will be delivering tangible benefits for which people are willing to pay. Case in point is the introduction of softer solutions that have less environmental impact, but meet customer expectations for pest control.