1. Collaborate to Grow the Pie

    July 22, 2011 by

    A very interesting article by Vicki Gardner, Harvard Business Review, is shown below. It highlights recent micro research conducted by Nielsen suggesting that genuine innovation should come from collaboration between manufacturers and retailers instead of fighting each other over splitting the profit pie.

    The study suggests that collaboration between manufacturers and retailers is essential to introduce new products or categories that consumers want and need and at the same time does not damage the existing lines or listings. For example many of the gadgets today offer features which most “normal” consumer are not even aware of more than ten percent of the features let alone use them all. The study also suggests that there are “supposed” innovations introduced by the manufacturers which are not really genuine innovations and consumer focused but merely they are more of product tweaks and noise made to create supposed ‘we have news’ sales packs and media releases.

    The full article below.

    Ahmed Abbas

    The National Football League (NFL) is in the midst of a public and piggish spectacle of billionaires arguing with millionaires about how to split approximately $10 billion in revenue. This is time, effort and money merely focused on splitting the pie versus growing the pie by innovating the product for the benefit of all, especially the fans.

    Similar lockouts are played out on a much more frequent basis between the consumer packaged goods makers and their retail partners. Far too many retailers and manufacturers opt for pie-splitting instead of collaborating to come up with pie-growing strategies. Of the billions of dollars spent each year on trade promotion and innovation, our estimates are that only $1 in every $8 spent on trade promotion (13%) and $1 in every $20 (5%) generated from innovation actually grow their respective categories.

    The rest of the dollars just shift share from one retailer to another or one manufacturer to another. These pie-splitting strategies often just drive short-term, unsustainable results where companies are merely "renting share." And in the long-run, too much share stealing without category growth destroys long-term industry profitability for everyone involved.

    The Nielsen Company just completed a macro study analyzing trade promotion across 30 grocery categories. The findings are surprising. Only 13% of trade dollars spent actually result in category growth. Instead, 15% of sales driven by trade promotions result in brand switching (good for the "winning" manufacturer) and 17% of sales driven by trade promotions result in store switching (good for the "winning" retailer).

    Sadly, the single largest result of trade promotion is subsidized volume at nearly 55% of all trade spend. This is trade spend where the no new consumers or incremental units were purchased—instead, customers who would have purchased a product anyway are being given discounts, gutting profits. One might think that all consumers would be happy with lower prices, but The Cambridge Group analysis across dozens of categories shows that the truly price sensitive consumer tends to be only 10-30% of households. Most consumers actually want new benefits and innovation and are willing to pay for them.

    Regarding innovation, the numbers indicate that the vast majority of innovation also results in splitting the pie vs. growing the pie — and in some cases, innovation inadvertently shrinks the pie. Nielsen also looked at sales from new products in every category within grocery in recent years. In one year $2.7 billion in sales was generated via new products in the grocery channel. But $3.2 billion was lost due to de-listing — meaning failed products that were pulled from shelves, or products pulled by manufacturers even though some consumers may have preferred the product — for a net negative of $500 million. Put another way: for every incremental $1.00 gained from a new product, $1.20 was lost due to de-listing.

    So is growing the pie an impossible task? No, but manufacturers and retailers have to collaborate more upfront on shopper and innovation strategies.

    Consider one example. Over the last five years, Jimmy Dean's has expanded its frame of reference beyond just breakfast sausage into convenient breakfast meals that provide longer lasting energy — a niche that delivers a breakfast like what you'd get at a fast-food restaurant with sausage at its center. In that time, Jimmy Dean's tripled its frozen breakfast sales with $200 million in incremental sales. But the category overall grew from $1.2 billion to $1.5 billion, with Jimmy Dean's driving nearly two-thirds of all the growth. It's a great example of what can happen when manufacturers and retailers stop fighting over splitting the pie and instead find a way to increase the share — in this case by stealing sales that might otherwise have gone to fast food establishments.

    The path to pie-growing strategies centers on better innovation. When manufacturers create innovation that drives category growth, there is less need to drive unhelpful trade promotion.

    First, innovation leaders at manufacturers need to redefine success. Too often manufacturers aim for $50 million+ ideas without regard as to where the additional revenue originated. Ideally it comes from category growth. If it comes from a competitor's share or, even worse, cannibalizing a product in its own portfolio, it's a less effective innovation. Innovations that grow the pie allow the manufacturer to benefit disproportionately — and the retailer will be fully supportive, since it grows sales instead of reapportioning existing shares. Our collective experience is that innovations that are truly differentiated and are appealing enough to command pricing power have a much greater chance of growing the category sales and margin.

    Second, innovation leaders need to better collaborate across marketing and sales functions within their organizations and with retailers to not just hand off innovations, but get roll up their sleeves into the trenches of retail execution and category growth. How can this innovation drive incremental trips to the store? How can this build baskets for the retailers? What SKUs will be deleted to make room? What is the optimal shelf-spacing, assortment and merchandising?

    Finally, as is the case with any real collaboration, greater honesty and accountability is required from both manufacturers and retailers about innovation. At a recent summit of top retailers and CPG manufacturers, several executives were refreshingly candid about the innovation charade that goes on every year. The executive noted that manufacturers constantly launch new products that they know in their heart of hearts aren't worthy (not differentiated, not worthy of a price premium, not likely to grow the category), but they go ahead because they complain retailers want 'new news'. Retailers constantly accept innovations that they also secretly believe aren't really that good, but they do so because they don't want to be the first one to say the emperor has no clothes.

    Fundamentally, the issues are rooted in our culture of competition and the need for more courage to collaborate. Pie-splitting as a growth strategy is attractive because it is more familiar and easier. For many of us it is deeply ingrained that for one to win, the other has to lose. Pie-growing is not only more foreign, it also takes more courage as it is a more uncertain and messier. It also takes more creativity, as well as an ability to stand in your partner's shoes. We expect the best retailers will sync up with the best manufacturers and lead the way, as it is way more fun to work in a growth category. Hopefully a new, mutually beneficial way of working together will emerge — just in time for a full NFL season.

  2. Tips for Customer Service


    Poor customer service including, indifferent attitudes, lazy or sloppy service and lack-lustre follow-up are extremely damaging for an organisation’s reputation. Brand value and sales stand to be lost due to poor credibility and loss of trust. Tessa Hood, managing director of Changing Gear, offers the following important tips [1] for delivering strong customer service:
    1. Never compromise on the service offered to customers. They trusted your organisation when they purchased your products or service. They will feel let down whenever that trust is not respected. 
    2. Gather feedback from employees concerning ways to improve customer service. Staff will appreciate their expertise and contributions being valued. These contributions often closely match the expectations of customers.
    3. Monitor and document customer services challenges, actions taken, and results achieved. It is helpful for customers to understand the successes that have been achieved on their behalf  and also for managers to acknowledge excellent results achieved by their teams.
    4. Ensure that staff appearances are of a high standard. Good first impressions are very important.
    5. Actively listen to customers. Keep eye contact and engagement with customers while striving to be absolutely authentic.
    6. Encourage staff and teams to develop wider networks. Networks can enhance and organisation’s reputation and lead to new prospects more economically than via advertising.
    7. Utilise the power of online branding. Use high quality content and links.
    8. Develop a strong people brand. Put a face on the organisation that both clarifies its brand and makes it stand out from the crowd.

    [1] R11102 Hood, T., (2011), Powerful service, Director, Vol  63, Iss  11, p 20, Institute of Directors, London

    Members can read the full article by clicking here

    Neil Crawford

  3. Green buildings: is it solving one problem and creating another?

    July 17, 2011 by

    Everyday more and more designers, builders, and building owners are becoming interested and involved in green building. There are various variation for the green buildings but generally, to build a green building the structure should be designed, built, maintained and sustained in an environmentally responsible and resource-efficient design to reduce environmental impacts, lower electricity and water usage and lower the operating cost.

    A recent report from Institute of Medicine brings to light how the integration of green building practices on typical commercial building can present new hazards that must be identified to protect building occupants such as poor indoor air quality.

    Below the media coverage of the report.

    Ahmed Abbas

    The buildings commonly referred to as "green" could actually be hazardous to your health, according to a new report. (AP)

    That's one of many warnings out of a new report from the Institute of Medicine, which tracked the potential impact of climate change on indoor environments.

    The report cautions that climate change can negatively and directly affect indoor air quality in several ways. But the scientists behind the study warn that homeowners and businesses could also be making the problem worse by pursuing untested or risky energy-efficiency upgrades.

    "Even with the best intentions, indoor environmental quality issues may emerge with interventions that have not been sufficiently well screened for their effects on occupant safety and health," the report said.

    To save costs and cut down on emissions, building owners typically find ways to seal off potential leaks and conserve energy. But in "weatherizing" the buildings, they also change the indoor environment.

    By making buildings more airtight, building owners could increase "indoor-air contaminant concentrations and indoor-air humidity," the report said. By adding insulation, they could trigger moisture problems. By making improvements to older homes, crews could stir up hazardous material ranging from asbestos to harmful caulking — though that problem is not unique to energy improvements.

    The report did not dissuade homeowners and businesses from making the energy-efficiency upgrades. Rather, it called for a more comprehensive approach, urging organizations to track the side effects of various upgrades and minimize the "unexpected exposures and health risks" that can arise from new materials and weatherization techniques.
    Source: FoxNews

  4. The Importance of Ergonomics

    June 17, 2011 by

    People are the most important assets in the organisation and ergonomics is the science of making sure that people maximize their productivity through the use of equipment that is designed to match their mental and physical needs. Ergonomics applies to almost any physical human task, from operating machinery to using cutlery.

    The use of ergonomic design can include the use of ergo tools, furniture, lights and can even take into consideration noise, space and air quality of the environment.

    It is important for us to be comfortable while doing our task in order to attain the best possible result for example in jobs done by sitting for long hours it is important to be sitting in a comfortable chair, the table and computer need to be at the correct height, with adequate lighting. See the clip below to see whether you are sitting correctly in front of your computer.

    As we enter the second decade of the 21st century, we sit all the time. Whilst  the shift towards computer-based work has increased productivity, it has, unfortunately, contributed to  an increased risk of heart disease and obesity in the long term. The negative health effects of sitting are starting to weigh heavily against the benefits. Below an infograph from MedicalBillingAndCoding.org shows some worrying statistics about the effect of sitting for long hours.

    Sitting is Killing You
    So what can you do about it? Well, some ideas are shown in  May’s issue of Gulf Lead Consultant’s newsletter. GLC are BPIR’s partner in Kuwait. In this issue, Dr Tariq A. Aldowaisan and Basma Bargal talk about  ergonomics and why it is important. Tips are provided on how  SMEs can implement ergonomics programmes.

    You can download the full newsletter from here:
    Time to Seriously Consider Ergonomics

    Ahmed Abbas
    Benchmarking Researcher, BPIR.com

  5. BPIR Newsletter – No.3 2011

    June 13, 2011 by

    Check out our latest BPIR newsletter:

    Click here to view web version!

    Click here to sign up for our newsletters!