The Times They are a Changing

The Times They are a Changing
By James Ahola, B.A.Sc.

I remember being a kid and going on Saturday mornings with my older brother and some friends to watch cartoons at the local movie theatre. The place was packed. I think the whole school and more were there. I saw adults drop kids off but few hung around. We had a great time watching Bugs Bunny and friends getting up to their usual antics. But if you were hoping to catch the deep meaning of Foghorn Leghorn’s monologue, it was futile. While we watched some, we also played and caught up with friends.

The movie theatre in my town doesn’t show kids’ cartoons on Saturday mornings any more. My children have a huge choice of channels that run cartoons and other kids’ shows 24/7. They also play video games, chat with friends, download videos and do much more with their electronic devices. A lot of things have changed but much remains the same: namely, kids need entertainment and parents will gladly pay for it. Products come and go but principles are forever.

Politics change, the environment changes, economies change. What remains the same is people, and human nature doesn’t change a whole lot. Teenagers believe their parents haven’t got a clue but when they read Romeo and Juliet they can relate. Every teenager since Shakespeare can relate to young love and teenage angst because they, like all people, do not change.

Regardless of geography or time, people have consistent predictable needs and desires. Their physical needs include food and shelter. They have emotional needs such as a desire to be heard and loved. They have social needs like communication, acceptance from their peers, and status.

And people also want their kids to be entertained and out of their hair on weekend mornings. No matter where you go on the planet – past, present or future – these needs and desires exist. They form a constant that will not change.

Successful businesses are founded on satisfying people’s needs. As the old saying goes, « No need… no sale. » Great new products and services are being developed that meet the needs of consumers with the best tools and technology possible. Today’s computer tablets and smart phones fill the need for communication, just as Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press once did. The need never changed, just the response.

I remember hearing someone say that people never buy products, or services, they only buy solutions to their needs and desires.

In today’s business world it is easy to feel overwhelmed, uneasy, or left behind as we say goodbye to products and practices that feel very much a part of us. At times, I miss those Saturday morning cartoon fests and wish my kids could experience them as I did. But as I drink my weekend morning coffee and hear my children’s laughter while they watch cartoons, download comedy from YouTube and chat with their friends online, I realize that I’m just like those parents dropping their kids at the movie theatre so many years ago. I want time to myself while my children are entertained.

Yes, the world has dramatically changed… but perhaps not that much. As the saying goes, « The more things change, the more they stay the same. »