DESIGNING THE FUTURE | DAVE MCCAUGHAN & FAIYAZ AHMED | Co Founders of Marketing Futures

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How often have you heard the phrase “designing the future” and what comes to your mind when you hear it? Companies, governments, organizations of all kinds have claimed for centuries to be managing how they will design for the future – in terms of designing resources, designing careers, designing new product launches, marketing plans, sales initiatives. It’s a work phrase often rolled out around the beginning of the fourth quarter everywhere to indicate “my organization and I are thinking ahead”.
Maybe this year really is different. We are all talking about the COVID-19 pandemic and how it has impacted the business, marketing and financial arenas. This is not a “new normal”. That was a 2020 phrase that has proved wrong. What this pandemic has taught us is not that everything is new. Rather it has shown that some trends that were already going to emerge have picked up at a rapid pace due to the pandemic.
The Bangladesh economy is predicted to overtake Malaysia, Hong Kong and Singapore by 2024. The GDP per capita is already the largest in South Asia. Growth seems to be coming from everywhere. So will the country be ready?
Think, for example, as to how Bangladesh is going about changing the face of infrastructure, manufacturing, the real estate scene and other core businesses issues. But fast paced change that experts foretold and know we need to be working on now.
At Marketing Futures, we work to help our clients and partners understand what is likely to happen soon and how to use those trends. As part of our Lead Talk series* we decided to hold a session with a group of senior architect and engineer business leaders who are planning and creating Bangladesh to see what they believe is being designed to prepare for the future.

The Lead Talk webinar brought together Faizur Rahman Khan, Managing Director BTi, Mohammad Firoze, Advisor to BSRM Group and Rizwanul Kabir, Managing Director of Energypac Power Venture Ltd. and Energypac Infrastructure & Development Limited to chat with us.


In recent years there has been a significant change in the styles and architecture of both private and commercial real estate and industrial construction designs as well as marketing practices in this category. Therefore the discussion highlighted the following key points where our guests shared their thought on designing Bangladesh:

Communication Development:

When any country goes through an economic development some particular space will get the focus. Just as Bangkok became the focus of Thailand’s growth and change 20 years ago, now Dhaka has become the center point for Bangladesh. Its transformation will lead the way for the rest of the country and also act as a case study for the country’s ability to take advantage of its growth.
At the same time though we need to avoid all emphasis being placed on an ever expanding and potentially urban focus on Dhaka. This is a time to be thinking ahead through a concerted approach and make a balanced effort so that the population is spread across the country. One big change which needs to take place in Bangladesh is inter-connectivity among regional levels. The government has already taken a mid-term plan to upgrade all the national highways of the country to four-lane ones, alongside constructing bridges and culverts. As one of our guests suggested, the next decade will be like the 1950s were for the USA where the building of national network of better roads and transport will facilitate the growth of the whole country rather than a singular over emphasis on Dhaka.

“All the top engineers and architects are focused on decentralizing the population rather than focusing too much on Dhaka. Only by planning to create better communication all around the country, it is going to put less pressure on Dhaka. Then can we ensure real continued growth and raising of living standards for all”
– FR Khan Managing Director BTI

Development of 100 Economic Zones

This new initiative of the government working with industries will take place soon and is going to create opportunities for more foreign investments and therefore employment and this will propel the country to the next level. Our experts all agreed this project is a real priority for opening new opportunities. By designating these zones around the country there is a balance of creating new infrastructure backbones (roads, air and rail transport, more power and internet availability etc.) that will strengthen and grow local communities and attract talent to all regions.

 

we decided to hold a session with a group of senior architect and engineer business leaders who are planning and creating Bangladesh to see what they believe is being designed to prepare for the future.

 

Electricity Connectivity is Important

Bangladesh has doubled in economic growth in the last 10 years and when there is economic growth, the need for electric connectivity goes hands in hand with infrastructural development. Now organizations who are into power business are focusing into advanced level of electricity services like efficient distribution and quality of power. The faster the country can get access to more “power”, the more “power” the country can attract.

“Today Bangladesh has almost 97% electric connectivity and visions to achieve 100% by end of this year” – Rizwanul Kabir Managing Director Energypac Power Venture Ltd. and Energypac Infrastructure & Development Limited.

 

Growth of Complementary Products

The best part of this infrastructural revolution is that a lot of other industries will follow suit and grow. This includes the production or core “building” industry needs like steel, cement, paints, electricity etc. These then lead increased employment. Skilled workers in manufacturing and supply of infra-structure needs leads to wealthier families and great consumer demand. It also leads to more families being able to afford greater educations for future generations.
The concept and importance of branding is also taking place in these industrial sectors. This is not so different from FMCG brands. Nobody in Bangladesh could ever imagine that branded steel will be sold but now a lot of local steel companies are creating brands and selling them in the market. This differentiation for products of all kinds again comes from expanded demand and the need to create new lives.

“Infrastructural Development brings a very fast way of generating employment whether for a PHD or an Engineer or even a day to day labour”- Mohammad Firoze Advisor to BSRM Group

Changing Living Standards and Expectations

Parallel to this development we see the Real Estate industry is also developing new practices and strategies. Market expansion, a fast growing middle class, and a desire to create alternative to concentrated, depressing urban living means that we see many new marketing strategies in areas like property management. Apartment’s blocks are now being designed to help keep physical and mental wellness in mind with more emphasis on spaces for yoga, children play zones, health centers etc. – partly as a reaction to COVID-19, but in reality again as a speeding up of longer term trends. Smart real estate marketers will have looked at neighboring markets in Asia and the Middle East and noted that expanding economies quickly bring forth potential consumers looking to take greater care of their mind and body. The pandemic has made that clearer.

Apartments now are also sold based on brand names which ensure quality of fitting, raw materials and services provided to the customers. Even design of properties from factories to apartments is changing as buyer/owners recognize the need to create spaces that reflect growth and also care.
This promising Bangladesh is also getting conscious about environment when it comes to construction and infrastructural development. Though it has to improvise more but certain policies have started taking hold already. The Department of Environment is stricter than before, fire safety and health safety rules to be upheld by and for workers are tightening. The culture of “increased care” has started to grow at all levels of planning for the future.As the country is going through this positive change with new construction in infrastructure and real estate industry, Bangladesh tomorrow will be a new face in the global scene and needs to be projecting a positive image about itself in the international market and promoting better lifestyle for it’s people in order to see continued growth. Designing to ensure those changes is at the core of both the nations and business futures.

*Lead Talk is an initiative of Marketing Futures where we bring together small groups of marketing and business leaders to discuss the key issues in live webinars

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