E x c h a n g e o f I d e a s | July/August 2009 | $10.95
M A G A Z I N E
A publication of Reveries.com and Cool News of the Day
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P I VOT P OINT
M A G A Z I N E
Split Screen J U LY / A U G U S T 2 0 0 9
T he strongest brands are those that remain true to that
which made them strong to begin with. The weak are
those that forget what made them relevant and lose their
way. Seems to me there was a book about that recently.
And yet, we have Google, which makes all of its
money selling advertising, but doesn’t invest much
in advertising for itself. There’s Nike, whose use of Big “G” Identity
recycled materials is often at cross-purposes with its The future of brand identity both depends on and
departs from its past, says General Mills CMO
reputation for “performance.”
Mark Addicks. An exclusive Q&A interview by
A brand divided We now live in a world where Tim Manners.
Toys ‘R’ Us owns FAO Schwarz and
the Penske Automotive Group, a
retailer, owns Saturn, a car company.
Or can it? Then again, we live in a country
where an African-American man
with a Muslim name is President of the United States.
These curious bundles of contradictions aren’t
purely an American phenomenon, though. In Germany,
BMW is encouraging its factory workers to buy the
Tug of War
The front line of building brand identity is now in
cars they make. Factory workers buying luxury cars! the store. A discussion featuring Simon Uwins of
Imagine that. They couldn’t be serious. Fresh & Easy, Tom Britanik of Clorox, Rita
Or could they? Oh, probably not. But just think about Bargerhuff of 7-Eleven, Chris Heye of Welch’s
and Masha Sajdeh of Arc Worldwide.
that for a moment. Google’s strength is its weakness.
Nike’s weakness is its strength. BMW may just be
It is indeed a delicate balance between strengths
and weakness where brand identity is concerned —
witness the rise of store brands as innovative rivals to
national brands. W H I T E PA P E R
Like much of the rest of marketing, things are not
always as they seem, but a world of possibility resides The Shoppers’
within brand-identity contradictions. Perspective
What do you think? Value-seeking behaviors may transcend
demographics. By Mack Hoopes.
Peter F. Eder ALSO
5 COOL NEWS
Peet’s Sake, Five Guys and Porgy & Bass.
Alexander Isley Inc.
11 W H I T E PA P E R
Branding Sales Culture | Recapturing the value of selling skills is critical to
building brand identity. By Joel Nickelsen.
John S. Dykes
14 R ESEARCH R EPORT
Bigger than Elvis | Which brands have the strongest identities? Macintosh
or Windows? Kennedy or Reagan? Walmart or Target? An executive
Active International summary of a Reveries.com survey.
EURO RSCG Discovery
Henry Rak Consulting Partners
Hoyt & Company W H I T E PA P E R
Insight Out of Chaos Map the Market | An understanding of consumer behavior frames a brand’s
Landor Associates competitive advantage. By Eric Greifenberger.
Meridian Consulting Group
Miller Zell Inc. The Waterford Effect | The ultimate strength of a brand’s identity comes
TracyLocke from within. By Dori Molitor.
Hub Club W H I T E PA P E R
RPM Connect Long-Live Brands! | National brands need to up their game to stay on top.
By Mitch Blum.
Henkel Consumer Goods
David X. Manners Co.
33 CASE STUDY
Brand-Image Boffo | A behind-the-scenes look into the making of NetApp’s
global brand. By Britt Dionne.
107 Post Road East
Westport, CT 06880
203-227-7060 ext. 227
email@example.com 36 W H I T E PA P E R
Minding the Store | Shopper marketing must not be subordinated to
category management. By Chris Hoyt.
n Brought to you by the editors of Reveries.
com and Cool News of the Day, The Hub
magazine is dedicated to exploring insights,
ideas and innovation as the ultimate drivers W H I T E PA P E R
of success in marketing. Brand the Experience | Where would great brands be without the shoppers
n Published bi-monthly since July who buy them? By Al Wittemen and Marta LaRock.
2004, The Hub’s circulation is exclusive
to Reveries’ proprietary database of
approximately 3,500 senior-level, client-
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COOL NE W S
“You have to be willing to plant some seeds and wait a few years,”
says Patrick J. O’Dea, ceo of Peet’s Coffee & Tea. Patrick is referring to
Peet’s efforts “to double the income of poor coffee farmers in Kenya,
Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda by linking their products with coffee
lovers in the developed world.”
Peet’s plan is “to develop a special blend of ... coffees that will be sold
online and in its 191 cafes starting this summer.” The net would be
better coffee, wealthier farmers and perhaps a burnished brand image
for Peet’s, too.
That won’t be easy though. For one thing, it means doing business
in “war-ravaged” Rwanda, “which has 450,000 family coffee farms”
and dealing with “a frayed infrastructure, a shortage of money to pay
for fertilizer, and suppliers who have little experience in dealing with
So, when Peet’s roastmaster, Jim Reynolds, offers advice, he’s working
Part of the problem is also that most Rwandans do not drink coffee.
with some farmers who “had never tasted coffee and reacted as if they
had bitten into a lemon” when tasting it.
Other obstacles include “bad roads and delays at border crossings”
along a 1,000 mile route to Kenya, followed by two months at sea
before arriving in California. Still, Peet’s v.p. Doug Welsh says that
“the inherent quality of the coffee is very good.” And as Patrick J.
O’Dea sees it: “The return on investment is really the value of our
brand, including the lifetime value of every loyal customer we have.” Five Guys
[S o u rc e : Steve Hamm, BusinessWeek, 5/4/09] “We’re too humble to ever think we can compete with
Wendy’s and McDonald’s,” says Jerry Murrell, founder
and ceo of the fast-growing Five Guys hamburger chain.
Five Guys, as you may recall, recently had the humbling
Porgy & Bass
experience of serving a cheeseburger to the President of the
United States at its Washington D.C. location.
This was after the First Lady made two lunchtime visits to
At Porgy & Bass, a cramped little seafood shop in Queens, New York,
Five Guys with her staff. Topping it all off, the President
the fish dumplings are sold by the ensemble, chorus or solo. The
compared Five Guys to the pyramids during his recent visit
seasonings share a shelf with a Mozart biography. Violin concertos fill
to Egypt. “Five Guys was good,” said Mr. Obama. “This is
the air as customers ponder the “musical witticisms ... written on the
better.” Says Jerry: “I think I’ll vote Democratic next time.”
handwritten signs offering fish specials.”
Founded by Jerry in 1986 as “a small takeout-only burger
Jane Cho opened the shop five years ago and explains, “I really want
restaurant,” Five Guys today has “436 locations in 32 states.”
to run a music store, but I don’t have the money to open one.” So
It is a family-run business and the secret of its success is,
instead she’s got Porgy & Bass, and a living.
um, the food.
She’s been there seven days a week for the past five years, waking up
“We were going to use our food to market our products,”
early and picking up her daily catch at the Hunts Point Market in the
says Jerry. Its burgers are 80 percent fat-free, “a blend of
Bronx. She’s a widow with two grown daughters, Yuri and Yumi, both
sirloin and chuck,” and a total of “13 different toppings
of whom are accomplished violinists.
can be customized for each order.” Five Guys has never
The shop, says Jane, is her oasis. “I don’t have many customers,” she advertised. And, despite pressure, Five Guys still won’t
says. “But they are good customers. I make just a living. I don’t expect serve milkshakes because, Jerry says, “we couldn’t possibly
anything more than that.” have a milkshake that comes out of a machine.”
[S o u rc e : Corey Kilgannon, New York Times, 5/16/09] [S o u rc e : Roger Yu, USA Today, 6/8/09]
Cool News of the Day, a daily e-mail newsletter of marketing insights, ideas and inspiration, is edited by TIM MANNERS. For a free subscription, visit www.reveries.com
The front line of building brand identity
is now in the store.
Tug of War
What does the term Rita Bargerhuff: It is different Do you see store
from private label and certainly
“store brand” means something different than
brands as a threat to
mean to you? it did 10 or 15 years ago. Today, national brands?
it means that a retailer is able to
Simon Uwins: It simply means a really look at their customers’ Uwins: Not particularly. I come
brand or a collection of products needs and wants very closely and from a background in the U.K.
that a customer clearly associates provide the products and value where they have co-existed
as belonging to the store from that the customer is looking for. for a long, long time. From my
A which the customer bought it. To
Chris Heye: The store brand term
experience, a national brand that’s
R oundtAble a degree, the identities of those
products are interchangeable with makes me think automatically of a
very relevant to customers is not
F eAtuRing the identity of the store itself.
Simon Uwins In the end, what people really
Fresh & Easy think of your brand, as a retailer,
In the end, what people really think of
is their experience in your store in your brand, as a retailer, is their
total. The products are a key part
of it, but so are the other elements
experience in your store in total.
Rita Bargerhuff of the store experience. That’s really Si MON U W i NS
7-Eleven what the store brand is all about.
Chris Heye Tom Britanik: It’s a brand made
proprietary brand for the retailer, What it puts under pressure
Welch’s for a retailer at their request, under
private label. The store brand, to are brands that perhaps aren’t
their label or their brand name,
me, really represents a choice for relevant to customers or unclearly
Masha Sajdeh using a name that they have chosen.
the consumer. positioned. What’s best is a
Arc Worldwide The retailer defines and executes the
combination of both store and
entire value proposition, including Masha Sajdeh: It can mean
national brands because together
what the product attributes are, the anything from the cheap alternative
they tend to grow the category.
pricing, and all of the marketing that the store offers, to exclusive
for that brand. The store brand is private-label brands sold at premium Britanik: I would say that store
only sold to that particular retailer, price-points, to the store brand brands are no more or less a threat
so the retailer has full control of name itself. It can mean any of than any other competitive entry
the brand. those three things. in the category. Store brands
6 THE HUB JULY/AUGUST 2009
have a certain value proposition brands, and that threat is certainly store brands, but also a test for
that appeals to a certain set of palpable among price shoppers today. store brands against national brands.
consumers, just like any nationally
Store brands also have the ability Sometimes the language of whether
branded product has.
to create intrigue and mystery it’s store brands or national brands
We are definitely seeing growth among consumers. This can be can feel like it’s more of a discussion
in store brands, especially in this difficult to do with brands that about who owns the brands. It’s
tough economic environment, more compete on a national, or even very much an inside-looking-out
in some categories than in others. international, scale. National view of an industry rather than about
Thankfully, most of our brands brands may be challenged to customers and how they see things.
have a number one or number two find ways to continually create
Britanik: Store brands are growing
position in the category in which mystique and interest.
for a reason. So, national brands
they compete, so we’re a little bit
However, in some instances, store have a little bit of a wake-up call
brands can also help legitimize and need to look at their value
Those national brands that might
have a weak value proposition are
definitely having a tougher time. National brands that have
We are seeing that in the monthly
share results. All brands need to
a weak value proposition are
ensure that their value proposition definitely having a tougher time.
remains relevant over time, because
T OM BR i TA N i K
you can’t just rely on what the
consumers valued six months or
three years ago. or frame-up the most popular propositions. They can’t rest on
Bargerhuff: You’d really have national brands and have a positive their laurels to ensure that they
to ask the national brands folks effect. When shoppers look at an are relevant to the consumer or the
that question. I don’t have the Olay copycat, for example, the shopper that they are expecting
perspective as to whether we are national brand can benefit from the growth from.
a threat. I really couldn’t speak comparison.
National brands need to look at the
for them. The store brands can give shoppers a store brands and ask themselves
Heye: Store brands are a threat, visual impression of more facings on whether the store brands are
but they are also an opportunity. the shelf, and lend an advantage to taking their core target consumers
They belong here and serve a the favorite brands in the category. away from them and why that’s
purpose for the consumer and for happening. They need to make sure
the retailer. Store brands are a Is there anything that they are differentiated enough.
greater threat to national brands that national brands Ultimately, that’s what it boils
that have a weak, unclear point of
can learn from down to: Your brand has to be
differentiated and offer a better
store brands? value overall, and shoppers have to
If your value proposition relies
heavily on price, then you are be able to see that.
Uwins: There is always something
probably facing an even greater that national brands can learn National brands could also learn
threat, certainly in this downturn from store brands and store brands from store brands in terms of the
in the economy. Store brand can learn from national brands. types of in-store tactics that can be
competition can actually help It works both ways. In the end, a effective to shoppers at the shelf.
the marketers of national brands brand will only be successful if it’s Store brands are good at this
continually sharpen their key clearly relevant to customers. because they generally do not do any
points of differentiation. national advertising for specific
Is it offering and creating enough
Sajdeh: When store brands invite brands and sell largely off the shelf.
value for customers for them to want
a direct price comparison they to buy it again? That, for me, is a Bargerhuff: They might learn
clearly can be a threat to national good test for national brands against something by looking closely at
JULY/AUGUST 2009 THE HUB 7
how store brands define the way Those signs often indicate a lack Are there ways in
retailer customers consume or of innovation in a category. That
use the brand. For 7-Eleven, that is often a wake-up call to all of the
which the store brands
would be the right portion size for brands in that category to bring can work with the
on-the-go eating, or it might be the new solutions to the consumer. national brands?
Sajdeh: Retailers have done a lot to
Uwins: There needs to be an
It could be the flavor profile that merchandise and market their
alignment of objectives in the
our customer is looking for, given exclusive store brands. National
sense that both are committed
the customers that we service. So, brands should recognize that store
to grow a category and to keep a
to the degree that a manufacturing brands are able to create this cachet
focus on the category rather than
brand takes a look at that, there without any advertising. There’s a
on individual products. But the
might be something to learn there. lot of word-of-mouth about some
first point is just making sure that,
store brands that national brands
Some national brands are very, very at the fixture, it just makes sense
might envy and perhaps should try
good at it; obviously, there have to the customers.
to duplicate for themselves.
been strong national brands for a
Why is that national brand there?
long time. But there is a reason that What CVS has done with its
Why is that store brand there?
the store brands have made inroads beauty brands, like Lumene and
Both of them need to be positioned
into some of these categories. Boots, gives the retailer a certain
clearly. Then it comes down to which
cachet and exclusivity because
Heye: We can learn from all sorts one the customer wants to buy.
these brands are available only at
of other brands and competitors.
their stores. There’s no reason why both
We try to learn from anything
shouldn’t be promoted and there
that is growing that retailers and The amount of credibility and
shouldn’t be a joint plan for the
consumers signal are important loyalty that Costco’s Kirkland
category that benefits both. It
to them. We can learn from them brand has is envied by many
shouldn’t be viewed as a battle
between national brands and the
Our objective is to become even stronger store brands, but rather as an
opportunity to grow the category by
in terms of taste profile, innovation in giving customers more real choices.
products, packaging and affordability. Britanik: National brands and
R i TA BA RgE R H U f f
store brands can work together
to create an efficient assortment
on the shelf that satisfies most
how to make ourselves better and national brands, I’m sure. It’s not consumer needs. If shoppers are
how we can help solve problems just a cheap alternative. It is a offered two or three brands —
for consumers and customers. very legitimate quality contender or whatever the category might
and it signifies value for shoppers handle — that’s a simple and more
For example, a lot of the most
without any advertising. efficient way for them to shop
successful store brands have a cost
model that supports their margin Target’s store brands have a lot to and it’s much more efficient for
base. We can learn from that cost teach national brands in terms of the retailer.
model and possibly how we might the credibility they’ve achieved Many categories have way too
become even more efficient. through designers. many items, or SKUs, making
There are a lot of things that we Personal stories, endorsements the shelf very confusing for the
can learn from their top-line growth. and bringing a face and a name to shopper. When a shelf is confusing
Store brands can be a bellwether the brand really add to the intrigue, to shop, consumers sometimes
for category growth, a leading mystery and credibility of its brands. just throw up their arms, and
indicator of consumer sentiment. walk right by because it takes too
Many national brands don’t have much time to shop that particular
I’ve seen many examples where
that; they are simply boxes and section. So it potentially limits the
store-brand growth is followed by
logos on the shelf. category growth for that retailer.
8 THE HUB JULY/AUGUST 2009
There are many of our categories Doing promotions together is an segments. Then they are not a
that are open for simplification easy one. This is especially true threat to one another, but instead
and greater clarity for the shopper. when it comes to the food and take a complementary approach.
The bottom line is keeping the beverage category, since foods are
choices for the shopper simple consumed in combinations. So, What do you see ahead
and clear, in terms of offering we can do many things like joint
the different price tiers. In my promotions to help bring category
for store brands?
experience, that’s what typically growth or cross-category growth.
Uwins: I come from a background
helps drive category growth.
Both store and national brands are where the store brand has
Bargerhuff: We are focusing responsible for bringing category developed over many, many years.
on the value that we offer the growth. If we focus only on Tesco has a whole variety of them
customer. We have a very stringent winning at the expense of store as well as the Tesco brand, Tesco
Finest brands, and so forth.
But there are also national brands
If we focus only on us winning at the expense that are still doing well in the U.K.
of store brands, we may not be optimizing market. Store brands have got a
long way to evolve, particularly in
category sales and profits for the retailer. the U.S. market, where they’re a
C H R iS H E y E bit younger.
Store brands are not the death
knell of national brands at all.
standard that we’re going to be brands, we may not be optimizing
The strong brands that are clearly
national brand equivalent or better. category sales and profits for the
relevant to customers, whether
The real advantage for us is to be store brands or national brands,
able to stay in stock, obviously. Each of the retailers has a different will continue and prosper.
When we develop our own brand, approach and so we try to adapt
Britanik: My guess is that store
we have more control over the as needed and win together with
brands will likely continue to
distribution and the availability of them. We have to do different
grow over time and for a couple of
that product. things with different customers
reasons. First, store brands are a
based on the way they market
So, having said all that, the good business proposition for the
themselves and the way they try to
brands can co-exist. I don’t see retailer, both financially and as
grow their categories.
a challenge with that. 7-Eleven a way to differentiate themselves
really wants to provide ultimate Sajdeh: When manufacturers are from other retailers.
customer choice in our store, collaborating with retailers, there
Second is that retailers will continue
and if someone is particularly is probably a way to look at how to
to become more sophisticated
manufacturer-brand loyal, we align different shopper segments
marketers. They will continue to
want to offer them that. with national brands versus with
improve their store-brand offerings
Now, obviously, customers will vote and how they are executing them
with their pocket-books every time, For example, some segments to the consumer or the shopper.
in terms of whether they have a might include shoppers who are
Every time we’ve had a recession
strong preference. But as long as our highly brand conscious. For them,
it gives the consumer or shopper
customers are buying both national the store brand is not the best
an opportunity to evaluate other
and store brands in volume, clearly product strategy or offering. But
brands. It’s important for every
we are giving them the right choice. store brands or private label may
manufacturer to do some self-
Again, the thing that we like is the be a very viable strategy for price-
reflection and make sure that
control we have over the innovation, sensitive shoppers.
we are providing the best value
the product delivery and the pricing.
So, rather than fight for the same to the consumer. It’s not just a
Heye: There are many ways types of shoppers, they can carve focus on price; it’s a focus on the
that they can work together. out their own spaces for different brand’s holistic value proposition.
JULY/AUGUST 2009 THE HUB 9
T HOUGHT L E ADER S
Bargerhuff: I see us continuing to When store brands become part of
innovate. March was our official, the boardroom conversation, and
national launch of our 7-Select part of the Wall Street conversation,
brand, but we’ve been feeding they are only going to continue to
products into the market since grow in importance. The very best
- 2008. Our objective is to become store brands, the best retailers, and
even stronger in terms of taste the best manufacturers of those store
SIMON UWINS is chief marketing
profile, innovation in products, brands, are going to grow in the way
officer of Tesco’s Fresh & Easy
Neighborhood Market, having
packaging and affordability. they help solve consumer problems.
joined Tesco in 1984 from We will see more investment in
To the degree that we can, we
ACNeilsen. Simon ran Tesco’s store-brand innovations.
will continue to build strength
bakery, health/beauty and non-
foods categories prior to leading at a reduced cost. We’ll do that We are potentially going to see
its marketing in the U.K. by sourcing our own ingredients more retailers narrow the price
and minimizing the distribution gap with manufacturer’s brands.
TOM BRITANIK is svp and costs as opposed to buying lower And I think we will see more
chief marketing officer of the quality ingredients. Our standard innovation from store brands.
Clorox Company, with global is high and it is very real. But Some of the forward-thinking
responsibility for all marketing
functions. Previously he was vp
and general manager of U.S. Auto
Care and Brita, and spent 13 years Target’s store brands have a lot to teach
with Procter & Gamble.
national brands in terms of the credibility
RITA BARGERHUFF is vp they’ve achieved through designers.
of marketing for 7-Eleven,
responsible for the marketing M A SH A SAj DE H
of key proprietary items
and enhancing the in-store
experience. Previously, she was
with Greyhound Lines, Ralston we can continue to offer a lot of people behind a few store brands
Purina and Price Waterhouse. value through both innovation and will adjust their margin structures
pricing. and try to beat national brands
CHRIS HEYE is chief marketing with better benefits and solutions.
We have also started a global
officer at Welch’s Foods with
private label initiative with We’re going to see some store brands
responsibility for invigorating
innovation and delivering business our parent company in Japan, invest more in the premium parts
growth. Previously, he was vp of which is very early on. We’re of a category, and that’s going to
marketing for BP/Castrol, and held taking a global focus in terms bring sophistication and growth.
marketing positions with Johnson of innovation, product sourcing
& Johnson and Nestlé Foods. Sajdeh: Because store brands
and ingredient sourcing. This
are not likely to gain advertising
could continue to be a largely
MASHA SAJDEH is chief shopper support, success will rely heavily
successful and relevant program
strategist at Arc Worldwide, the on creating an authentic brand
for customers worldwide.
marketing services arm of Leo experience. The element of
Burnett, specialists in the inter- Heye: Store brands are going to imagination traditionally created
relationship between shopper, continue to grow in sophistication. by advertising will lack and other
digital, promotion and direct
More and more American retailers factors will continue to gain
marketing. Masha may be reached
at firstname.lastname@example.org. are comparing themselves and importance.
their store brand development to
Things such as the product name,
retailers in Europe.
ingredient story, packaging and in-
Store brands, and the percent of store experience will play a large
sales that store brands represent role in legitimizing the store brand
among total sales, is now a and creating a relevant and coveted
boardroom-level conversation. brand among consumers. n
10 THE HUB JULY/AUGUST 2009
WHI T E PAPER
By Joel NickelseN often recruited to fill key roles. This creates a broad
spectrum of skill levels. The challenge is to build a
Mer idi a N c o N sult iN g gro up
team of sales people who understand the message and
can deliver it consistently to generate results.
ith the advent of today’s shopper-
It’s time to start branding the sales culture. Just
friendly culture, an abundance of fresh,
like a product is branded to differentiate and identify,
shopper insights now sits on top of
a sales organization should also have a branded and
years of category expertise, consumer
differentiated capability for selling.
data, and brand facts. As a result, consumer packaged-
At the core of branding a sales culture is ensuring
goods companies have more to say to their retail
the right skills are identified, developed, and valued.
customers than ever before.
This means that new sales people must learn what is
Often, this conversation between brands and
expected, and managers must know exactly how to
retailers is packaged into attractive presentations that
coach. The point is to simplify expectations, clarify
are the centerpieces of customer meetings. However,
the process and align everyone to it. This ensures a
there is much more to selling than reciting a deck,
consistent approach that is disciplined and more likely
especially when store brands are challenging national
to lead to success.
brands as never before.
Unfortunately, while shopper marketing has
received considerable industry and media attention,
relatively few organizations have even thought
Recapturing the value of about branding their sales teams. In fact, in our own
selling skills is critical to
industry survey of sales executives, 69 percent said
that their organization was the “same or not as good”
building brand identity. as the sales teams of competitors. Fifty-four percent of
survey respondents also admitted that their customers
see the gaps in their selling skills.
This gap in selling skill is astonishing. Imagine
Reducing the sales team to “order takers and a finance department without finance experts, or a
presenters” and ignoring basic and ongoing selling marketing organization with average marketing skills.
skills development can only add to the growing And yet industry leaders tell us the typical CPG sales
perception that national brands are undifferentiated organization lacks differentiating selling skills.
and therefore expendable. Clearly, this is a mistake. They are correct: In the CPG world today, selling
Every company has a critical message it needs skills are not what they use to be. They are taken for
to communicate to customers via its messengers — granted, and are no longer a competitive advantage
the sales team. This team is in constant change for most CPG companies. This puts them at a distinct
with a stream of new, untrained people joining the disadvantage when it comes to fulfilling the potential
organization, along with talent from other companies of shopper marketing to build their brands at retail.
JULY/AUGUST 2009 THE HUB 11
➜ Understanding buyer’s objectives ➜ Handling objectives
➜ Business analysis ➜ Negotiating
➜ Selling features and benefits
➜ Long-term planning
➜ Building rapport
➜ Applying category management principles ➜ Listening
➜ Understanding and using shopper insights ➜ Customer discovery process
➜ Presentation skills
➜ Analytical skills
➜ Presentation development
➜ Stategic thinking and planning ➜ Closing techniques
s o u r c e : Meridan Consulting Group
SaleS SkillS GapS expertise, indicating a more urgent need for action.
To sell effectively, a CPG sales person needs two For example, the skill given the highest importance
complementary skill sets — foundational and strategic rating by respondents was “understanding buyer’s
(see above). Foundational skills include classic objectives and strategies.” This, along with “strategic
communication. We think of these as the “on-call” thinking and planning,” was identified as having the
skills, used mainly while in front of the customer. lowest level of expertise.
Strategic skills include elements such as long-term However, it was not just strategic skills that made
planning and business analysis. These are the ‘pre- the top of the list. Foundational selling skills such as
call’ skills mainly used to develop the selling story for negotiation and handling objections were also identified
the customer. Both are required for success. as critical skills — and skills with significant gaps.
We asked our survey respondents to rate the The question is, why are we in this position? Ask
importance of 12 strategic and foundational skills in most sales leaders and they will lament the intense
enabling a CPG sales person to do his or her job. Not pressure to deliver numbers that supercedes all other
surprisingly, all 12 skill areas were rated 4.0 or better on activities. The expectation for results has accelerated,
a five-point scale. However, when asked about expertise and keeps sales teams looking for quick wins.
(the strength of most CPG sales people) in the same 12 Developing any type of skill takes coaching
areas, the average score was 2.97. It is safe to say that and practice, and those are ideas that quickly take a
industry leaders see a significant gap in selling expertise. back seat to “bringing in the numbers.” This perhaps
Additionally, the skills rated as most important explains why none of the survey respondents said that
also were identified as having the largest gap in their company has a sales-training plan that is both
Top 5 Skill Areas
1. Understanding buyer’s objectives and strategies Strategic
2. Strategic thinking and planning Strategic
3. Negotiating skills Foundational
4. Understanding and using shopper insights Strategic
5. Customer discovery process Foundational
s o u r c e : Meridan Consulting Group
12 THE HUB JULY/AUGUST 2009
comprehensive and effective. Short-term wins again. that gets things done — a.k.a., selling!
Another explanation for the lack of development Additionally, having a defined process for
is the reality that past efforts have had limited delivering the message ensures that sales people
effectiveness. Training on selling skills is often done create the conditions to buy. A multi-step process that
via periodic classroom-type events. While good moves logically from a summary of the situation to
learning often takes place, the content is often not gaining agreement to specific action works best. While
reinforced, which dilutes the benefit. it may appear rigid at first, the result of a disciplined
Additionally, the training is typically not part of a selling process is always improved execution. The
comprehensive plan to build selling skills and is process should be customized for each organization
viewed by participants as an isolated event. The level and becomes a foundation of the selling culture.
of importance and the ongoing effort invested in a Sustaining a “branded selling culture” means
company’s sales culture sends a negative message about establishing a comprehensive curriculum that
the value of its people and their work. Ultimately, senior is delivered via multi-faceted training. Survey
sales management owns the development of the sales respondents want more than a few classroom-type
team’s skill level and must take responsibility for it. learning experiences. While these are valuable, sales
Sales leaders also told us that skill coaching is people need a curriculum that is customized for their
not high quality, or is not taking place at all. Most specific roles and existing skill levels. Once started,
organizations simply hope that people are learning on this training must be reinforced through consistent
the job. But reality is different. According to survey coaching and mentoring activities.
respondents, coaching is only “average” when it takes A culture of selling means that leaders will
place, and fewer than half are involved in a sales be prepared to develop their people in “our way of
mentoring program. Those who should be coaching selling.” They should provide ongoing coaching that
feel limited by other demands. They have no training links to the company’s “way of selling” — whether in
curriculum or common expectations. In short, a preparation for customer engagements or for internal
“culture of selling” is not being developed. selling needed to gain alignment on key objectives.
Finally, to develop expertise, selling skills must
CreatinG the Culture be practiced. This is often overlooked because it takes
The best CPG sales organizations have developed time and can be uncomfortable, however, we certainly
a clear “way of selling” that includes a specific set don’t want to be practicing in front of customers.
of skills and a process that enable their people to Sales people should be put in situations where
consistently deliver the selling story to customers. they can practice and get immediate feedback from
Their dedication to their “way of selling” defines peers or managers. By doing these things regularly,
a clear expectation of the value of sales and is everyone will know that the skills which produce
supported with a comprehensive teaching effort. company revenue are highly valued.
This really isn’t all that complicated. While Creating a “branded selling culture” must not
selling in CPG has become more complex, requiring a be ignored. Sales leaders must be at the front of
broader range of selling skills to be successful, all of establishing this selling culture for it to truly take
the requisite skills still fall into either the strategic or hold. Those organizations that begin the process may
foundational category. Sales organizations can begin find themselves part of an elite group, differentiated
by establishing the two or three key selling skills from competitors in the capacity to sell, and winning
from each category in which everyone in their sales at retail more consistently. Start the journey in your
organization should be an expert. organization and reap the benefits of recapturing the
The key focus here is to bring clarity to specific value of selling skills. n
skills that are required for success in the organization.
Don’t allow selling to be a broad, undefined concept.
Selling is the work. It is much more than being likeable JOEL NICKELSEN is an executive
or having good ideas. consultant with Meridian Consulting
Group, a management consulting firm
Identifying these focus areas allows the organization
specialized in sales and marketing
to build both strategic and foundational skills across organization development. He
all sales people. This helps onboard new recruits, can be reached at nickelsenj@
improve the interface with the customer, and build meridianconsulting.com.
capability to communicate with the customer in a way
JULY/AUGUST 2009 THE HUB 13
RE SE ARCH REP ORT
Which brands have the strongest
identities? Macintosh or Windows?
Kennedy or Reagan? Walmart or Target?
Since the recession is not a whole lot of fun,
we thought we’d take a break from business-as-
usual and play a little game. It was a simple little 44.4%
survey where all you had to do was make a gut-
level choice between two big brands in a bunch
of different categories.
We pitted BMW against Mercedes and
Toyota versus Honda. Walmart versus Target.
Is it Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s? McDonald’s
or Burger King? Macintosh or Windows? Quick:
Which one is stronger? You get the idea.
We also included some pop-culture face-
offs: Beatles or Elvis? Ali or Armstrong? Che
Guevara or Mona Lisa? McDonald’s 85.8%
Sometimes the results were lopsided. Coke
swallowed Pepsi and McDonald’s ate Burger Burger King 14.2%
King’s lunch. Facebook outhyped Twitter and
Starbucks decaffeinated Dunkin’ Donuts. Adidas
was no match for Nike and the Pillsbury Doughboy
rolled right over Mr. Peanut. J. Crew 55.0%
A few glimmers of hope sparkled for the
vanquished, however. A number of survey Banana Republic 45.0%
panelists praised Burger King for its flame-broiled
burgers. Adidas earned kudos for “authenticity.”
And while the Doughboy is much loved for his
giggle, a few lonely souls still think that Mr. Trader Joe’s 51.5%
Peanut is “cool.”
The contests were tighter between BMW Whole Foods 48.5%
and Mercedes, Honda and Toyota and tightest
of all between CVS and Walgreen’s and Whole
Foods and Trader Joe’s. The brand-identity battle
between J. Crew and Banana Republic is also Facebook 82.7%
somewhat close, with Crew pulling ahead, thanks
probably to Michelle Obama’s tacit endorsement. Twitter 17.3%
Perhaps most intriguing of all were the
Walmart versus Target and Macintosh versus
Windows match-ups. One might think that since
Walmart and Windows command their respective
Pillsbury Doughboy 80.8%
marketplaces that they would also be perceived
as having the stronger brand identities.
Mr. Peanut 19.2%
Not so — at least among our readers. Target
beat Walmart 57%-43% and Macintosh whipped
Microsoft, 54%-46%. In a similar vein, Jay
14 THE HUB JULY/AUGUST 2009
THE HUB JULY/AUGUST 2009
than Elvis Leno may have trumped David Letterman in
the ratings, but Dave’s brand identity swept
our survey, 58%-42%. Is this good news or bad
news for those in the business of building brand
Beatles 68.0% When Los Angeles lost out to New York, it
was not without a chorus of “Yo, whoyatawkin
Elvis 32.0% to?” and “Fughetaboutit!” On Eric Clapton
versus Jimi Hendrix, a respondent explained,
“Jimi Hendrix did not steal George Harrison’s
wife.” Neither did Clapton, but Jimi edged Eric
Muhammad Ali 67.9% anyway, 58%-42%.
While it didn’t seem to matter to anyone that
Lance Armstrong 32.1% Elvis is dead, mortality is a problem for Julia Child,
who lost out to Martha Stewart because, well,
“she’s dead, isn’t she?” Martha, who bested Julia
55%-45%, took her lumps, too: “Post-felon chic
Mona Lisa 81.8% simply hasn’t taken hold,” one survey-taker said.
To top it all off, we asked this question: “If
Che Guevara 18.2% your life depended on picking just one brand
identity that is the all-time strongest in the
world, which one would it be?” It is Coke — or
perhaps Coke Is It. By a wide margin, too: Coke
32%; Apple 10%; McDonald’s 5%; and Nike 4%.
The rest were scattered across a wide variety
28.0% of brands, led by Disney, Kleenex, Marlboro and
Harley-Davidson. Other popular choices included
the United States of America, Christianity and
President Obama. Perhaps the biggest surprise was
that Google only received four votes, Target two
Home Depot 63.3%
votes, Microsoft one vote and Walmart no votes.
This was so much fun we’re going to run it
again next year! Please send suggestions for brand-
identity face-offs to: email@example.com.
A total of 523 survey respondents included
agencies (24%), brand marketers (26%) and
consulting firms (17%). Thirty-four percent
worked in packaged goods firms, nine percent in
media/entertainment and eight percent in retail.
A majority were senior-level executives, with
75% reporting more than ten years of experience
Dunkin’ Donuts 30.2%
JULY/AUGUST 2009 THE HUB 15
JULY/AUGUST 2009 THE HUB
WHI T E PAPER
By eric greifeNBerger
Market determine which brands and products you compete
against, you need to understand how consumers
H e N r y r a k c o N s u l t i N g pa r t N e r s
Both usage and purchase behaviors need to be
any times we are asked, “What’s considered to determine what consumers are doing
the most important part of the and to identify a precise competitive frame. The
usage information allows you to define a market very
strategic positioning?” While a broadly and identify competitive sets based on the
brand’s benefits, reason-to-believe way consumers use certain products to meet specific
needs. The results are often eye opening.
and the consumer target are all important, the
competitive frame is the one critical element in
the strategic positioning equation that must be An understanding of
precisely right before you can develop the other consumer behavior frames
elements effectively. a brand’s competitive
Until you know exactly which brands you need advantage.
to win against for a greater share of the consumer’s
mind, heart and wallet, you won’t know how to best
improve your strategic brand positioning. You won’t For example, premium-priced hair-coloring
know whether your brands really matter to consumers products are growing of late because they compete
or not. against expensive salon treatments and are viewed as
The first step is to identify where your brand sits a quality value alternative by consumers. High-quality
on the competitive landscape and which brands and frozen dinners compete not just against each other,
products it truly competes against. This is often not but also against carryout food from quick-service
only the brands or products you think of first (i.e., the restaurants.
ones next to yours on the shelf). In the pain market, some over-the-counter brands
Most marketers feel they have a pretty good idea compete with prescription products and services
of the brands they compete against, but often that because they solve similar problems for consumers.
competitive frame is either defined too narrowly or too Taking a broad view of how consumers use your
broadly. Many times it is defined by the Nielsen or IRI brand helps you define the true competitive frame
category definitions, internal Ivory Tower hypotheses, whether yours is a brand of mattresses, organic foods,
attitudinal surveys or focus groups. However, to beverages or beauty products.
16 THE HUB JULY/AUGUST 2009
Chart 1: The Market Map
Competitive Set Competitive Set
Sub-Segment Sub-Segment Sub-Segment Sub-Segment
1A 1B 2A 2B
Brand A Brand E Brand C Brand G
Brand B Brand F Brand D Brand H
Need State #1
Need State #2 Need State #2
Consumer Segment #1 Consumer Segment #2
Consumer Segment #1
s o u r c e : Henry Rak Consulting Partners
Once usage behavior is understood, there is the Lastly, it is important to identify which
important step of drilling down into the purchase consumers gravitate toward a competitive set to
behavior of specific segments. Purchase behavior understand who is behind the purchasing and
allows for a more granular understanding of each utilization of your brand and near-in competitors.
competitive set and tells you what drives consumer
choices within the competitive set. look at Wh at th e y d o
Organizing switching patterns identifies the Understanding the what by using actual
attributes that most drive consumers’ loyalty to your consumer behavior is the critical starting point for
brand. You will know the relative importance of brand developing a relevant, differentiated strategic brand
equity, form, flavor, product type, a critical benefit or positioning. Too many times there is significant
even size in driving purchase behavior. disparity between what consumers say they do and
Once you organize the usage and purchase what they actually do.
patterns of consumer behavior, you will definitively According to an April 2009 Time magazine poll
understand how well your brand and product of 1,000 Americans, 46 percent of respondents said
offerings stack up and how much your brand matters they were going to the movies less this year. However,
versus the competition. tracked attendance and spending at the box office are
Next, find out what consumers want or desire up 16- and 17-percent respectively through the same
from each competitive set and what role your brand time period (Media By Numbers).
plays within each set to understand why they are While 28 percent said they are spending less on
choosing among a set of brands for a specific job. For alcohol, volume and dollar sales are up YTD across
each job, consumers have specific needs and each all alcoholic categories and 7 percent overall (IRI
brand in that competitive set fulfills against them to point of sale data through April YTD). With actual
varying degrees. How well your brand delivers on consumer behavior as its foundation, your strategic
them, real or perceived, is a key factor motivating brand positioning will be much more precise versus
consumers to be loyal or to switch to another brand relying upon interpretations of consumer opinions or
within the competitive set. subjective snapshots.
JULY/AUGUST 2009 THE HUB 17
Chart 2: “D” Me Too Brand
Competitive Set Competitive Set
Form 1 Form 2
Brand A Brand B Brand C Brand D
s o u r c e : Henry Rak Consulting Partners
Once what consumers are doing is well understood, perceive the brand that is grounded in their actual
marketers must also determine the why’s behind the behavior and provides a unique competitive
behavior. What are the motivators and consumer advantage for your brand (see chart 1).
desires that make them act the way they do? It is The market map will tell you if you have a
essential to understand both functional and higher- differentiated leader brand standing apart from
order emotional needs. competitors or more of a “me too” brand that offers
“Need states” or “consumer drivers” are methods a solution with similar benefits to the competition’s
of understanding what consumers are looking for to (see chart 2). You’ll know what role your brand serves
solve a job to be done within a competitive set. This — whether mainstream or niche — which will help
helps explain why they are choosing certain brands you to anticipate what consumers expect and want
over others. Recognizing the why’s driving consumer from the brands with which you compete.
behavior will enable you to create differentiation in Armed with an understanding based on this
meaningful and relevant ways. framework, you are ready to evaluate your brand’s
Beyond this, we must understand who is strategic positioning and determine how to make it
gravitating to the defined competitive sets. First, it is more compelling.
important to identify the consumers who will provide
the greatest growth potential through their current ti m e to GroW
behavior. SPECTRA is a good demographic and Now that the competitive frame of the market in
behavior-driven tool to use for this purpose. which you compete is precisely defined and clearly
Additionally, consumer segmentation offers understood, you can decide the best course of action
attitudinal insights that can be very helpful in for your brand.
understanding what your high-value consumers are If it turns out your brand stands apart from the
like and what makes them tick as people. Now you competition in a meaningful way, it likely already has
will know how to find your high-potential consumers a clear and powerful positioning that homes in on
and how to best connect with them. critical benefits, delivers them better than the competition
Integrating all the elements within a market of and is attracting the right target group (see chart 3).
what consumers are doing, why they are doing it But more than likely you will learn enough about the
and who they are, provides the perfect foundation marketplace to find ways to strengthen the strategic
for evaluating where your brand stands in the brand positioning to get consumers to switch to your
marketplace. It is a market map of how consumers brand and accelerate growth.
18 THE HUB JULY/AUGUST 2009
Chart 3: “D” Differentiated Leader Brand
Me Too Brand
Competitive Set Brand D Competitive Set
Form 1 Form 1 Form 2 Form 2
Brand A Brand B Brand C Brand E
s o u r c e : Henry Rak Consulting Partners
First, assess the competitive-frame learning to you win against brands/products in both competitive
decide where you want to focus your brand. Brands sets. No longer are you the “frozen” pizza solution but
sometimes cut across multiple competitive sets within instead you are the best “pizza” solution.
a market, but brand leverage may be greatest in If your brand and product experience can deliver
one or two of them. Focusing in one competitive set against the benefits, it will make your brand a better
within a market can provide greater opportunity to pizza solution overall. In this instance, you have
grow your brand. a chance to accelerate your brand’s growth rate by
For example, if your brand is a pain reliever, it altering your strategic brand positioning and carving
may be used for all types of pain but is utilized most out a new space for your brand to source new sales
frequently against either headache or body pain. from both competitive sets.
The market map will determine your brand’s area of Evolving your brand positioning is a strategic
strength and help identify what it takes to win. You exercise that gives you the platform to grow your
will be informed as to which key benefits to leverage business. To ensure your brand matters, know how
and against which consumer group to give the brand you stack up against competition and develop a
the power to win in that specific competitive frame. powerful, relevant strategic positioning that sets your
Conversely, you may have focused your brand brand apart from its true competition.
benefits against one competitive set within a market Remember, you are in control of your strategic
when you really have leverage to win against multiple brand positioning. Once you put yourself in the driver’s
competitive sets. seat and ensure your brand is positioned to become a
For example, store-bought pizza and take out/ fiercer competitor, you will be on a road that ensures
delivery pizza from restaurants serve as two sub- your brand matters well into the future. n
competitive sets. They compete with each other to
a degree, but for the most part competition occurs
within each set. But if you learned from the market ERIC GREIFENBERGER is a managing
director with Henry Rak Consulting
map that your store brand is competing with
Partners (hrcpinsights.com), a growth
both sets, you must be delivering an experience
strategy consultancy. Previously Eric held
more similar to take out/delivery than other store senior marketing positions at Kraft and
brand pizzas. was in field sales at Pillsbury. Contact:
This presents the opportunity to broaden your firstname.lastname@example.org.
competitive frame and offer benefits that will help
JULY/AUGUST 2009 THE HUB 19
E S S AY
aking a tour of a manufacturing plant has said, ‘You’re not going to stop people from coming to
never been high on my list of things to do, the place they’ve worked all their lives, where their
but there was something about the Waterford family worked, and where they have built up the
Crystal factory, in Kilbarry, Ireland, that brand themselves.”
drew me in. The soul and the energy of it Another worker, Sean Eagan, was just plain
was just too powerful to ignore. incensed: “That is no way to treat people, to stop
Once inside, I could feel the pride of every one of them from coming into their own factory.” Sean had
the factory’s workers. As I walked by, they gave me worked there for 35 years.
the biggest smiles, with the most welcoming eyes. Sean, Tony and their co-workers did leave
They loved to talk about their work and why it was eventually because “business is business” as everybody
important to them. They were only too happy to stop knows. But one has to wonder what the long-term
what they were doing for a moment to pose for pictures. effects of Waterford shutting down this crucial part
of its heritage — its soul — might have on the brand.
There may be other capable craftsmen elsewhere, but
The ultimate strength it seems unlikely that they would bring anywhere near
the kind of spirit I felt that day in Kilbarry.
of a brand’s identity Waterford’s workers also raise an interesting
question for anybody in the business of building
comes from within. brands today: If you closed one of your factories — or
offices — today, would anybody really care about
anything other than their lost wages?
It wasn’t just for show; they were plainly pleased It’s a question worth considering now more than
to be a part of what Waterford is. I met a young man ever, with the economy still struggling to reach solid
whose parents also worked at the factory, as had his ground.
grandparents. It wasn’t just about manufacturing; it In the last issue of the Hub, I wrote about a
was pride, it was heritage and it was art. long-term shift in consumer culture that is now
These workers weren’t just there for a paycheck. accelerating because of the recession (The Big Shift,
They were there for a purpose. May/June 2009). I wrote about how consumers are
My tour happened several years ago, but you can renewing their own sense of responsibility, taking
imagine my shock when I read in the paper earlier greater personal control of their lives, re-defining
this year that Waterford Crystal’s parent company, value and pursuing greater meaning and purpose in
now owned by a private equity firm, had closed the their lives.
Kilbarry factory. Apparently this decision was made Their message, like those Waterford workers,
because it was less expensive to manufacture the is that “we matter.” They want the business world
Waterford brand elsewhere. to look them in the eye, bring a human touch and
I was far less surprised to read that the nearly understand their realities.
500 people whose lives were lived in that factory That’s a huge opportunity for any brand. The
refused to leave after it was shut down. Tony Kelly, problem is that although consumer culture has
one of those workers, told the New York Times, “We shifted, corporate culture, for the most part, lags
20 THE HUB JULY/AUGUST 2009
behind. I believe this is because too many companies a B e t t e r Wo r l d
fail to understand what it truly means to do the things While creating better lives for one’s employees
consumers are already doing — to pursue meaning is an obvious prerequisite for any company hoping
and purpose in their businesses just as consumers are to keep pace with today’s consumer culture, it
pursuing meaning and purpose in their lives. doesn’t stop there. Ultimately, the internal happiness
of the corporate culture must manifest itself in the
a Si lv e r l i n i n G
marketplace, as well.
Everybody knows that any enterprise has four Ikea is a great example of how this works. Ikea is
primary responsibilities — to its customers, its employees, well known for having a wide-open, non-hierarchical,
its investors and to society at-large. The health of the organic culture, where ideas are shared freely among
enterprise depends on serving all four equally well; its workers without regard for title or rank. This
it’s when the balance between these responsibilities is environment no doubt led to Ikea’s idea to offer free
off that companies find themselves in trouble. babysitting services to its shoppers, regardless of
It’s curious to me that so many brands seem to whether they actually buy anything — or even go
place more importance on supporting remote causes shopping — in the store.
than they do supporting their own employees and Now, shoppers are not allowed to leave the store
customers. It’s not about one-off, tactical cause under any circumstances after they drop their kids
marketing campaigns. It’s about a long-range strategic off at Smaland, the Ikea babysitting center. But often
commitment to be a values-driven company. It’s about they just head for the store’s café, where the wireless
the corporate body having a soul, because to have a is free, for a little downtime. As the retailer’s PR chief,
soul is intentionally human. Mona Liss, told the New York Times: “We certainly hope
The silver lining of this recession is that a handful they’ll purchase some Ikea products, but if they don’t,
of companies seem to be waking up to the fact that we still feel satisfied we introduced them to Ikea.”
strength begins at home, and are investing more in It’s certainly no coincidence that while many of
ensuring the happiness of their workers and customers. Ikea’s competitors are suffering sales declines during
They’re doing so because it’s obvious that happier the recession, Ikea’s sales reportedly were up five-
workers lead to happier customers lead to happier percent in January.
investors. The world is a better place for everyone. Nothing I’ve written here about treating workers
The question is, how to do this? There is no one, and customers well is news to anyone reading this
simple, prescriptive answer that applies across the page. These are very basic principles that everybody
board. I do think that Avon, under the leadership knows. Every company has values and a culture of
of its chief executive officer, Andrea Jung, is an one kind or another, after all.
inspirational example of one company that is on the But how many companies have a culture where
right track, however. the employees would refuse to leave even after
It’s not as though Avon hasn’t taken its lumps, they’ve been laid off? How many see the recession
because it has. What’s notable about Avon is that Ms. as an opportunity to empower women? How many
Jung has made it her mission to “empower women” would offer free babysitting services and wireless to
at Avon. shoppers who aren’t there to shop?
According to an article in the Economist, Ms. Jung The answer is easy: Not nearly enough. But
is aggressively recruiting new employees, pitching values-driven companies, whose corporate cultures
women on job security, flexible hours, financial are truly aligned with today’s consumer culture, are
independence and running their own businesses. So leading the way out of this recession into both higher
far, she has added about a million new sales reps, profits and a better world. n
and while its profits are still falling, it’s falling by less
than many of its rivals.
It’s also worth noting that the company is DORI MOLITOR is founder and CEO of
pursuing its “empowerment” strategy at a time WomanWise LLC (womanwise.com)
a WatersMolitor Company, a hybrid
when many other companies would likely decide to
consultancy-agency specializing in
backburner it. But Ms. Jung told the Economist that marketing brands to women. Dori can be
her approach is a “constant turnaround mentality” reached at email@example.com
and that she actually sees the current recession as a or (952) 797-5000.
JULY/AUGUST 2009 THE HUB 21
COVER S TORY
ark Addicks has a deep and abiding affection for his brands,
some of which his own family has used for generations.
“It’s just amazing that, after growing up on a farm in Brenham, Texas,
I could end up in Minneapolis working on a brand like Cheerios that my
grandparents loved,” says Mark, chief marketing officer at General Mills.
It’s true: Few companies could lay claim to as many enduring,
iconic brands as does General Mills. So, how is it that so many
“Big G” brands have achieved such status for so many years?
Mark suggests that there’s really no great mystery to it.
“Brand building has been the primary corporate strategy of
General Mills since the beginning,” he says. “Year after year,
we have terrific people who take our brands and make them
even more iconic.”
General Mills has always made it a priority to understand the
roles its brands play in everyday life, says Mark. It’s not enough
simply to identify who uses which brand. It’s about connecting
with those who can’t live without the brand, people he likes to
call “brand champions.”
Increasingly, Mark’s champions are Hispanics and African Americans —
consumers that Mark says many other companies ignore, but who are
driving much of his company’s growth.
“At General Mills, we’re passionate about inviting all of those consumers into
our brands and we’ve been rewarded for those efforts,” he says.
Another key to iconic brands, says Mark, is a corporate culture that respects
the past while aiming at the future, and that literally connects those who used
to work on a brand to those creating its future.
It’s a future, he adds, where a brand’s reputation for ethics and social
responsibility increasingly trumps traditional product benefits.
22 THE HUB JULY/AUGUST 2009