Frustration is viral

November 20, 2013

Frustration is a viral sentiment spreading throughout the global business community, “How do you find executive management who can truly achieve results, embrace cutting-edge methods and implement bold new ways to succeed?”

Business success comes not by natural intuition, through costly mistakes, charismatic diplomacy or knowing the ‘right’ people. (This attitude has, and continues to, put potentially immortal companies at risk and costs billions in avoidable commercial failures.)

Business success comes from wisdom-based talent layered upon experience and knowledge.

Many large international businesses need to experience change and renewal, particularly those with a number of market leading products, in established industries, major categories and competitive businesses.

They desperately NEED sustainable competitive advantage, which comes from innovation built upon solid strategic skills, genuine strategic innovation, blue-ocean growth initiatives spawned by the ability to identify key challenges effecting the organisation, and ability to develop and conceptualise strategies to improve competitiveness, steering those initiatives to improve overall business performance.

This calls for a leader with academic grounding, a breadth of experience that is rare among business individuals, and genuine successes in SME as well as middle sized and large companies. (The premise being no one person is ever responsible for success in large organisations, so ‘pure corporate’ executives from this background are more likely to behave been at the right place, at the right time, as often as they are a true performer.)

Boards must now scour the executive labour market for a new beast: Someone best suited is now an individual with success across a plethora of industries, who possesses demonstrable ability to understand new concepts quickly and act as an innovative thinker, with numerous experiences setting product strategy as well as the ability to implement.

Breakthrough performers must possess a passion for marketing strategy and instinctual understanding of buyer behaviour. They must be endowed with insight into the mechanics of marketing planning and business issues, and a wisdom that is unlikely to been seen in a young, corporate “climber”.

Self assured, mis-perceived as arrogant, or over-confident, ‘hero’ CEO’s dispel doubt when allowed to apply their craft and when results evolve.

All it takes is for an imaginative and dynamic Board or Shareholders to dare to try… the outcome being greater than the pain of resistance to change if they do.

The following is a summary of my presentation at the 2012 FMCG Summit on Longevity, held at MGSM.

Every company must follow its mandate/mission/vision and derived corporate objectives: That’s the Board of Management’s job!

So why is everyone complaining that WW & Coles are making it hard? It’s their job to maximize profit…. and ours to help them! If we happen to make mega bucks in the process – good on us! If we get deleted in the process, we should only blame ourselves.

When marketing science reigned supreme, a very accurate and detailed segmentation study, including positioning map and competition analysis, was a yearly investment, but in the past decade, as pressure has been put on improving WW & Coles profits, operational managers have sacrificed long term strategic foresight, and stripped themselves of their most powerful ally – market segmentation knowledge.

[A show of hands at the Summit showed only 1 attendee had commission a new segmentation study in the past three years – now wonder FMCG marketers are losing bargaining power!]

Now that Woolworths, and Coles have the power of loyalty card data… data that is fast, statistically reliable, accurate, and consistent, FMCG marketers are going to be stripped of their knowledge assets, and buyers will become category experts like never before.

Buyers can now rebuild a category from scratch… deleting big brands, ranging new innovations, with assurance and confidence they have never had before… because they really KNOW their customers.

The only tool that FMCG markets have to battle is better, albeit different research.

Now, more than ever, we must see Coles and Woolworths as trade partners sharing common needs… satisfaction of the customer. FMCGers must discard the red ocean strategies of undermining competitors and fervently pursue blue ocean strategies that can be exposed by trend analysis from consistent, quality market segmentation studies conducted periodically and analyzed meticulously.

It is up to us to demonstrate to buyers that there is real and sustainable commercial advantage in ranging our products. The two basic tools are marketing effort, and positioning strategy, that together build the asset of brand equity and the outcome of significant market share.

Cynics will say this is easier said than done, but, with C-level support, it is almost easier done that said, IF we remember that the rules, laws, models and processes of professional marketing work (if applied properly) and FMCG markets simply cannot afford to shortcut on any.

 

Do this and we it is inevitable that you WILL follow your company’s mandate/mission/vision and derived corporate objectives in collusion with Woolworths and Coles instead of in spite of Woolworths and Coles.