Wanted: New Tools For a New Economy

By Tom Branna, Editorial Director | August 1, 2014

It could have been worse—he could have been president. Remember when Steve “Flat Tax” Forbes wanted to be President of the United States? He couldn’t buy the nomination then and now, it turns out, he can’t hold on to the publishing company he inherited from his dad, either. Last month, Forbes was sold to Asian investors for an undisclosed amount, though observers say the publication, which calls itself “The Capitalist Tool” (which, come to think of it, is a good nickname for Steve Forbes, too), fetched $475 million.

Now, what does Forbes’ misfortunes have to do with household and personal products? It underscores a couple of shifts that are taking place in the global economy today; shifts that are evident when you read this issue of Happi.

First, it’s clear that the emphasis is on Asia as long-established European and North American companies look to emerging markets for growth. They’re finding them in places like China, India and the rest of the continent, where a growing middle class has a growing taste for high quality cosmetics, skin care products and even disinfectants and detergents. For now, these consumers are content to purchase products from companies such as Unilever, L’Oréal and Henkel. But in the not-to-distant future, domestic players will begin flexing their muscles and grabbing market share from Western-based multinationals.

Secondly, Forbes’ decline is a textbook case of Old World Thinking in a New World Order. The company, founded nearly 100 years ago by BC Forbes, was unable to make the transition to an increasingly digital world even though its long-time publisher, Rich Kaarlgard, wrote a frothy column entitled “Digital Rules,” in each and every issue for years.

Successful companies know when to its time to look for new markets and implement new technologies. You can read about some of them in The International Top 30, which begins on p. 73 in this issue. Or, if you prefer, log on to Happi.com and sign up for a digital edition. I don’t know if “digital rules,” but online is growing and Happi is growing right along with it.

Tom Branna
Editorial Director