IKEA is teaming up with adidas. Kohl’s is partnering with Aldi. Walmart is linking with CarSaver. Supreme collaborates with anyone it feels like, including (this month alone) SOG hand axes, Zippo lighters and Wilson tennis balls.
While partnerships and collaborations are nothing new, get used to even more brands than usual linking arms to build “ecosystems” by partnering with players inside or outside their industries. Even direct competitors are putting aside rivalries in co-opetition to pursue growth together instead of going it alone.
New research by Accenture reinforces that mash-ups are critical for spurring future growth—particularly when they’re open (while respecting privacy guardrails) to sharing customer insights, technology and industry knowledge to build ecosystems that can lead to mutual growth, according to 82% of brand leaders just in the retail sector.
Such ecosystems could unlock $100 trillion of value for business and society over the next decade, Accenture said. In fact, 61% of retail executives believe that more than half of their company revenues will be generated from ecosystems in the next five years.
Part of what is reflected in these results is that 56% of these business leaders are concerned that current growth strategies are at high risk of disruption, in an era during which only a quarter of business leaders globally are very confident that they’ll achieve their 2020 growth targets.
Many brands in a variety of verticals have been creating closer ties with startups in their own and other industries through equity stakes, venture investments, and incubators. The creation of ecosystems represents another way that big companies are attempting to tap into new sources of growth and get ahead of the sea changes that are going on, especially in retailing.
Businesses are forming ecosystems to make major innovation plays (63%), increase revenue growth (58%), access new markets (55%) and gain new customers (55%), Accenture said. Nearly half of business leaders today are actively seeking ecosystem partners.
“In today’s competitive market, companies can no longer create sustainable growth by going it alone,” stated Michael Lyman, senior managing director of Accenture Strategy.
“The beauty of ecosystems is that no single company owns or operates all components of the solution, making the value generated much larger than the combined value each of the players contributes individually, and the risk is distributed equally.”