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HubMagazine #31


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HubMagazine #31

  1. 1. E x c h a n g e o f I d e a s | July/August 2009 | $10.95 HUB �e M A G A Z I N E A publication of and Cool News of the Day
  2. 2. Brand rituals are what turn consumers into customers. E V O L V 3 3 E Strong retail businesses need loyal customers. Tapping into our expertise with some of the world’s largest retailers like Tesco, Carrefour and Sprint, we know how to make your brand succeed. From retail to interactive to innovation and growth, we’ll get you to the Future First.
  3. 3. HUB �e 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 22 COVER STORY 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 against itself the Penske Automotive Group, a cannot stand. 6 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. ROUNDTABLE 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 smoking something. 30 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. Tim Manners
  4. 4. Editor-in-Chief Tim Manners Senior Editors Peter F. Eder ALSO Jane Harris Managing Publisher Joseph McMahon Art Director Julie Manners 5 COOL NEWS Peet’s Sake, Five Guys and Porgy & Bass. Design Concept Alexander Isley Inc. Illustrator 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 Circulation Director Bertha Rosenberg Brain Trust 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 survey. Arc Worldwide EURO RSCG Discovery 16 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. Marketing Drive 20 Mars Advertising E SSAY Meridian Consulting Group Miller Zell Inc. The Waterford Effect | The ultimate strength of a brand’s identity comes TracyLocke from within. By Dori Molitor. WomanWise 27 Hub Club W H I T E PA P E R Prophet RPM Connect Long-Live Brands! | National brands need to up their game to stay on top. By Mitch Blum. Friends Henkel Consumer Goods The Hub 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 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 40 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 42 approximately 3,500 senior-level, client- COOL BOOKS side executives in Fortune 1000 marketing departments and major ad agencies. Becoming Bucky Fuller, Pedaling Revolution and Che’s Afterlife. n Advertising: For more information on The Hub’s sponsorship and advertising opportunities, please contact Joseph McMahon ( or 845-238-3516.
  5. 5. COOL NE W S Peet’s Sake “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 quality control.” 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
  6. 6. ROUNDTABL E 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 threatened whatsoever. 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 Tom Britanik is their experience in your store in your brand, as a retailer, is their total. The products are a key part Clorox 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
  7. 7. 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 more insulated. 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 differentiation. 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
  8. 8. 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? packaging design. 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. category softness. 8 THE HUB JULY/AUGUST 2009
  9. 9. 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 retailer. 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 store brands. 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
  10. 10. 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 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
  11. 11. WHI T E PAPER Branding Sales Culture 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 W 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
  12. 12. Strategic Foundational ➜ 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
  13. 13. 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 capability to communicate with the customer in a way JULY/AUGUST 2009 THE HUB 13
  14. 14. RE SE ARCH REP ORT Which brands have the strongest identities? Macintosh or Windows? Kennedy or Reagan? Walmart or Target? Bigger Since the recession is not a whole lot of fun, BMW 55.6% we thought we’d take a break from business-as- usual and play a little game. It was a simple little 44.4% Mercedes 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 Honda 52.4% Toyota versus Honda. Walmart versus Target. Is it Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s? McDonald’s Toyota 47.6% 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
  15. 15. 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 identity? 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%. Kennedy 72.0% The rest were scattered across a wide variety 28.0% of brands, led by Disney, Kleenex, Marlboro and Reagan 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 Lowe’s 36.7% again next year! Please send suggestions for brand- identity face-offs to: reSpondent profile Walgreens 51.2% A total of 523 survey respondents included agencies (24%), brand marketers (26%) and CVS 48.8% 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 Starbucks 69.8% 75% reporting more than ten years of experience in marketing. Dunkin’ Donuts 30.2% Survey Results: JULY/AUGUST 2009 THE HUB 15 JULY/AUGUST 2009 THE HUB
  16. 16. WHI T E PAPER Mapthe 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 actually behave. M 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
  17. 17. Chart 1: The Market Map Market Competitive Set Competitive Set #1 #2 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
  18. 18. Chart 2: “D” Me Too Brand Market Competitive Set Competitive Set #1 #2 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
  19. 19. Chart 3: “D” Differentiated Leader Brand “D” Market Me Too Brand Competitive Set Brand D Competitive Set #1 #2 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 (, 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 competitive frame and offer benefits that will help JULY/AUGUST 2009 THE HUB 19
  20. 20. E S S AY The Waterford Effect T 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
  21. 21. 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 ( 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 and that she actually sees the current recession as a or (952) 797-5000. “seminal” opportunity. JULY/AUGUST 2009 THE HUB 21
  22. 22. COVER S TORY Big “ M G ”identity 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