How “Survival Of The Fittest” Became “Collaborate or Be Left Behind”

13.12.2021 | Read

We’ve often heard that if you want to succeed in business or in life, you need to subscribe to the idea of “survival of the fittest.” Success, we are commonly told, has to be grabbed; it has to be taken, or someone else will get it.

All-out competition has been a tenet of worldwide business for decades. But this isolated way of working is a relatively new concept to the human race. For tens of thousands of years, egalitarian societies were widespread. Keeping the playing field level was a matter of survival. Small-scale hunter-gatherer groups didn’t stockpile food, and given the high-risk nature of hunting – and the high possibility of coming back from the day empty-handed – collaborating and cooperation were commonplace to ensure everyone got enough to eat. 

As the mist begins to clear following the Covid-19 pandemic, we, at The Caviar Spoon, are beginning to see a full-circle return to the way of life of our ancestors. It is not “survival of the fittest” but the idea that as brands, we must collaborate or risk getting left behind. 

Nike and Apple Collaboration

Driving the movement towards brand collaborations

The pandemic has accelerated the rate of change with many brands seeing the benefits of collaboration. In April 2020, we saw an average drop of 42% year over year for fashion apparel and a 31% decrease in sales for cosmetics and beauty products which led to the need for faster innovation cycles. Because of this, the industry has begun to see more strategic partnerships. The pandemic saw a huge increase in beauty collaborations such as Lalisa Manobel X M.A.C Cosmetics, Colourpop X Disney, and Supreme X Pat McGrath.  

However, the idea of collaboration between brands is not a new one nor is it a fad born from the pandemic. A huge catalyst for change is the changing consumer behaviour as we move from The Digital Age to The Age of Experiences. 

Brands are no longer competing with their competitors. They are competing with the last best experience their consumers had. In fact, 74% of consumers are at least somewhat likely to buy based on experiences alone. At The Caviar Spoon, we are seeing this, particularly within the hospitality industry. Mike Scully, Managing Director of First and Foremost Hotel Group, and a member of The Caviar Spoon’s global advisory board said, “People don’t buy brands – they buy experiences”. 

This is a good point to note for Saudi Arabian tourism as it flings its doors open to foreign tourism. As a ripple of excitement runs through the travel industry, the new experiences Saudi Arabia can offer tourists is the first thought on everyone’s mind. Collaborative work between experiences will be needed to give tourists a joined-up experience (Beach to city excursions jumps to our minds!).

Consumers are consistently on the hunt for holistic, joined-up solutions that improve their lives. This brings to mind the iconic collaboration between Nike and Apple. For a partnership that started in May 2006, this has grown to become one of the best brand partnerships in terms of value. Both brands strategically broke into the other’s market. Nike leveraged Apple’s influence in the tech market and Apple claimed more retail space and opened itself up to a new market of fitness-conscious consumers.

We are now marketing to an entirely new generation – Generation Z. The oldest members of Gen Z are approaching 24; a generation of people who have grown up with technology at their fingertips. They are influencing the way we market in an incredible way and forcing brands to become more inventive with how they reach and interact with this new audience. In 2020, Gen Z became fans of digital campsites; digital spaces that could provide them with the experiences they craved. This brought about a host of new collaborations, including a series of five concerts by hip-hop artist Travis Scott inside the game Fortnite which was attended by more than 27 million people, and a two-day performance from rapper Lil Nas X on the gaming platform Roblox which garnered more than 33 million views.


Better together: what are the benefits of collaboration?


Open up new markets

Fashion has traditionally been slow on the uptake with digital and immersive technologies. But the pandemic forced the industry’s hand. With the industry’s future uncertain, it made sense to look to an industry with an audience of 3.4 billion globally (Statista) and made $175bn in 2020 (Entertainment Software Association, 2020). 

“Gamification is going to influence many things, but there’s an obvious application for fashion. Fashion is meant to be this playful arena where you should be able to express yourself, and you should be able to experiment,” Michaela Larosse, head of content and strategy at the Fabricant, says.

As the gamification of fashion continues, we are seeing more and more luxury fashion brands move into this space to get a slice of the promising market. Take Balenciaga and their retro video game, Afterworld: Age of Tomorrow, which they used to launch their Fall 2021 collection. According to a report from the online shopping app Lyst, searches for the brand on Lyst rose 41% just 48 hours after the game launched and rose to 71% the following month. 


Achieve greater results together

The production of the Covid-19 vaccine was a true collaboration success story. For the first time in history, pharmaceutical companies joined forces to save lives and formed unprecedented collaborations and alliances between life sciences companies, research institutes, health systems, and international health organisations. The typical time for developing a vaccine is 10 years, but it took less than a year for vaccines to start rolling out across the globe. 

Technological advances and the rapid rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine changed people’s expectations about what is possible and show what can be achieved with the right investment and collaboration.


Share ideas and knowledge

Wikipedia, one of the best-known wiki websites is an incredible example of an online collaborative effort, sharing ideas and knowledge. With over 56 million articles, it has helped information become more accessible than ever before. Articles become steadily more polished as they progress, as they develop, with members adding their own entries and viewpoints and can change from being mediocre when they begin to becoming hugely informative and well-respected pieces of work. Essentially, without its members, Wikipedia would not function as the information powerhouse it is today. 

Wikipedia is a product of its community and raises money through donations from its members, the people who benefit from its information. In 2017, Wikipedia made over $91m in revenue from member donations alone. 


Promote a cause

In 2017, two of the biggest brand rivals on the planet joined forces to raise money for charity. November 10 was ‘McHappy Day’ in Argentina, the day when $2 from each Big Mac sold is donated to help children with cancer. That year, Burger King decided to embrace the cause as well. In 101 Burger King Argentina locations, customers were informed that they would not be able to order a Whopper, but they were encouraged to head over to Mcdonald’s for a Big Mac Instead.

According to Ignacia Ferioli of David Buenos Aires, the agency that came up with the campaign, “When McDonald’s announced the outcome of the event as they do every year – a public thank you to customers who walked in that day – the numbers showed they sold 73,437 Big Macs more than in 2016, the historic record for McHappy Day.”

The global movement towards collaborative marketing has shown that our successes together are greater than when brands work in siloes. But success doesn’t happen overnight and effort needs to be exerted to create groundbreaking collaborations. The only way to see success is to start. 


If you’re interested in creating world-first successful collaborations, register to join our community of collaborators. Complimentary memberships are available to validated brands for a limited period.