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Business leaders are blinded by industry boundaries
April 22, 2019 | Financial Times | Rita McGrath.

Why is it so hard for executives to anticipate the major shifts that can determine the destiny of their organisations? Andy Grove called these moments “strategic inflection points”. For some, he wrote, “That change can mean an opportunity to rise to new heights. But it may just as likely signal the beginning of the end.”

Industry leaders would do well to focus on productive opportunities, even when they lie outside a fairly well-bounded industry. Want to survive a strategic inflection point? Stop focusing on traditional metrics and find new customer needs that your organisation can uniquely address.

Why do business leaders so often miss these shifts? Successful companies such as BlackBerry maker Research In Motion and Nokia did not heed the early signs of a move to app-based smartphones. Video rental chain Blockbuster failed to acquire Netflix when it had the chance, in 2000.

Senior people rise to the top by mastering management of the KPIs in that sector. This, in turn, shapes how they look at the world. The problem is a strategic inflection point can occur and render the reference points they have developed obsolete. Take traditional retail. Its key metrics have to do with limited real estate, such as sales per square metre. Introduce the internet and those measures are useless. And yet traditional systems, rewards and measures are all built around them.....British economist Edith Penrose grasped this crucial link, she asked, “What is an industry?” In her studies, executives did not confine themselves to single industries, they expanded into any market where their business might find profitable growth.

Consider the energy sector: Historically, most power generators and utilities were heavily regulated...The sector’s suppliers likewise expected steady demand and a quiet life....that business has been rocked by slow-moving shifts many players talked about, but did not act upon. The rise of distributed energy generation, the maturing of renewable technology, increased conservation and new rules have eroded the traditional model. Many failed to heed the warnings. In 2015, General Electric spent about $10bn to acquire Alstom’s power business. Finance chief Jeff Bornstein crowed at the time that it could be GE’s best acquisition ever. Blinded by traditional metrics, GE doubled down on fossil-fuel-fired turbines just as renewables were becoming cost competitive.

Consider razor blades: Procter & Gamble’s Gillette brand of razors had long enjoyed a competitive advantage. For decades, the company had invested in developing premium products, charged premium prices, invested heavily in marketing and used its clout to get those razors into every traditional retail outlet. A new breed of online rivals such as Dollar Shave Club and Harry’s have upended that model, reselling outsourced razors that were “good enough” and cheaper, online via a subscription model that attracted younger, economically pressured customers...... Rather than fork out for elaborate marketing, the upstarts enlisted YouTube and Facebook influencers to get the word out.
Andy_Grove  BlackBerry  blindsided  Blockbuster  brands  cost-consciousness  customer_insights  Dollar_Shave_Club  executive_management  GE  Gillette  good_enough  Harry's  industries  industry_boundaries  inflection_points  Intel  irrelevance  KPIs  metrics  millennials  movingonup  myopic  obsolescence  out-of-the-box  P&G  power_generation  retailers  reward_systems  sales_per_square_foot  shifting_tastes  slowly_moving  warning_signs 
april 2019 by jerryking
How to funnel capital to the American heartland
April 15, 2019 | Financial Times | by Bruce Katz.
* The Innovation Blind Spot, by Ross Baird.
* Ways must be found to rewire money flows in order to reverse the export of wealth
* A federal tax incentive intended to entice coastal capital into the heartland may end up helping to keep local capital local.

Over the past year, economically distressed communities across the US have been engaged in an intense discussion about mobilising private capital. Why? As mayors, governors, real estate developers, entrepreneurs and investors have learnt, buried in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was a provision that created a significant tax incentive to invest in low-income “opportunity zones” across the country......the law’s greatest effect, ironically, has been to unveil a treasure trove of wealth in communities throughout the nation. Some of the country’s largest investors are high-net-worth families in Kansas City, Missouri, and Philadelphia; insurance companies in Erie, Pennsylvania, and Milwaukee; universities in Birmingham, Alabama, and South Bend, Indiana; philanthropists in Cleveland and Detroit; and community foundations and pension funds in every state.

These pillars of wealth mostly invest their market-oriented equity capital outside their own communities, even though their own locales often possess globally significant research institutions, advanced industry companies, grand historic city centres and distinctive ecosystems of entrepreneurs. The wealth-export industry is not a natural phenomenon; it has been led and facilitated by a sophisticated network of wealth management companies, private equity firms, family offices and financial institutions that have narrow definitions of where and in what to invest.

The US, in other words, doesn’t have a capital problem; it has an organisational problem. So how can capital flows be rewired to reverse the export of wealth?

Three things stand out:

(1) Information matters. The opportunity zones incentive has encouraged US cities to create investment prospectuses to promote the competitive assets of their low-income communities and highlight projects that are investor-ready and promise competitive returns.

(2) norms and networks matter. The opportunity zone market will be enhanced by the creation of “capital stacks” that enable the financing of community products such as workforce housing, commercial real estate, small businesses (and minority-owned businesses in particular) and clean energy, to name just a few. Initial opportunity zone projects are already showing creative blends of public, private and civic capital that mix debt, subsidy and equity.

(3) institutions matter. Opportunity zones require cities to create and capitalise new institutions that can deploy capital at scale in sustained ways. Some models already exist. The Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation, backed by patient capital from Procter & Gamble, has driven the regeneration of the Over-the-Rhine neighbourhood during the past 15 years.

More institutional innovation, however, is needed. As Ross Baird, author of The Innovation Blind Spot, has argued, the US must create a new generation of community quarterbacks to provide budding entrepreneurs with business planning and mentoring, matching them with risk-tolerant equity. These efforts will succeed if they unleash the synergies that flow naturally from urban density. New institutions will not have to work alone, but hand-in-glove with the trusted financial firms that manage this locally-generated wealth.
books  capital_flows  cities  coastal_elites  community  economic_development  economically_disadvantaged  economies_of_scale  howto  industrial_policies  industrial_midwest  industrial_zones  institutions  investors  midwest  municipalities  P&G  PPP  packaging  private_equity  prospectuses  Red_States  rust-belt  venture_capital  high_net_worth  match-making  networks  network_density  property_development  rescue_investing  tax_codes  place-based 
april 2019 by jerryking
Tristan Walker on the Roman Empire and Selling a Start-Up to Procter & Gamble - The New York Times
By David Gelles
Dec. 12, 2018

Tristan Walker founded Walker & Company, a maker of health and beauty products for people of color, in 2013. On Wednesday, the company was acquired by Procter & Gamble for an undisclosed sum. The deal represents a successful exit for Mr. Walker and his investors. It also signals an effort by Procter & Gamble, the maker of Gillette, to reach new markets with its shaving products. But while many start-up founders make a hasty exit after getting acquired, Mr. Walker is planning to stay on and grow Bevel, his men’s shaving brand, and Form, his women’s hair care brand. “We’re a team of 15 with very grandiose ambitions,” he said of Walker & Company, which is based in Palo Alto, Calif., but will move to Atlanta as part of the deal. “We want this company and its purpose to still be around 150 years from now.”

What’s that book you’ve got there?

It’s “Parallel Lives” by Plutarch. I’ve really been getting into Greek and Roman mythology. I’m reading something right now about the history of Rome during the 53 years when they really came into power, and this idea of the Roman state growing, the Greek state growing, and the differences therein fascinate me beyond belief. I’ve just been devouring it for the past few weeks now.

Walker attended the Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Conn. And from there, he got to see how the other half lived. It completely changed his life. He got to see what success could look like. He got to see what wealth was. And it completely changed his worldview.

How so?

I would walk down the halls and see last names like Ford, go to some classes and realize they’re Rockefellers. These are names that were in my imagination. It taught me the importance of name and what that can mean, not only for you but your progeny. When I started at Hotchkiss, I didn’t know what a verb was. So I spent all of my time in the library studying. I spent all of my time thinking about what I wanted to be when I grew up.

What are your priorities as you keep building the company?

I’m dedicating my life to the demographic shift happening in this country. Not only for Silicon Valley. Not only for business. But for this country’s competitiveness. It’s changing. And folks need to respect that and they need to celebrate it.
African-Americans  Bevel  biographies  books  demographic_changes  entrepreneur  entrepreneurship  exits  Form  insights  long-term  P&G  Romans  Silicon_Valley  start_ups  Tristan_Walker  wealth_creation  black-owned  brands  consumer_goods  personal_care_products  personal_grooming  founders 
december 2018 by jerryking
P&G Buys Walker & Co. to Expand Offerings to African-Americans - WSJ
By Aisha Al-Muslim
Dec. 12, 2018

Procter & Gamble Co. PG +0.19% has acquired Walker & Co. Brands as the consumer-products giant looks to serve more African-Americans with health and beauty products.

Palo Alto, Calif.-based Walker sells grooming products for men under the brand Bevel and hair-care products for women under the Form Beauty brand.

Walker will operate as a separate and wholly owned subsidiary of P&G, continuing to be led by its founder and Chief Executive Tristan Walker, ......Last year, Anglo-Dutch consumer products firm Unilever PLC acquired Sundial Brands, a New York-based hair-care and skin-care products company predominantly targeting African-Americans, for an undisclosed sum. Sundial’s brands include SheaMoisture, Nubian Heritage, Madam C.J. Walker and nyakio.
African-Americans  Bevel  black-owned  brands  exits  hair  P&G  personal_care_products  personal_grooming  Tristan_Walker  Unilever  founders 
december 2018 by jerryking
Mark Ritson: The battle for branding's soul is on - Marketing Week
the direct conflict between Stengel's Purpose and Byron's distinctiveness within global brand owners (negative capability, Ripeness is all)
strategy  brands  branding  Ehrenberg  ByronSharp  P&G  JimStengel  Purpose 
may 2018 by graemewood
Technology has upended the world’s advertising giants - Mad men adrift
March 31st, 2018 | The Economist |

The world’s advertising giants are struggling to adapt to a landscape suddenly dominated by the duopoly of Google and Facebook. Some of their biggest clients, such as Procter & Gamble (P&G) and Unilever, are also being disrupted, in their case by smaller online brands and by Amazon. They are cutting spending on advertising services, and also building more capabilities in-house. Consultancies with digital expertise such as Deloitte and Accenture are competing with agencies, arguing that they know how to connect with consumers better, and more cheaply, using data, machine learning and app design.......This month Marc Pritchard, chief brand officer of P&G, criticised their (i.e. the ad giants) model as a “Mad Men” operation that is “archaic” and overly complex in an era when campaigns and ads need to be designed and refined quickly across lots of platforms.

Technological forces are buffeting this model.

(1) The first big challenge is disintermediation. Despite the growing backlash against the tech giants, Google and Facebook make it easy for firms big and small to advertise on their platforms and across the internet via their powerful ad networks.
(2) The second headache is the rise of ad-free content for consumers, especially on Netflix, and the corresponding disruption of ad-supported television, which has declining viewership globally.
(3) Third, Amazon’s e-commerce might, and the growing clout of internet-era direct-to-consumer upstarts, have weakened the distribution muscle and pricing power of the advertising giants’ biggest clients.....cost discipline among clients is driven partly by the influence of thrifty private-equity investors like 3G, the Brazilian owner of AB InBev, the world’s largest brewer......Sir Martin argues that the budgetary pressures that have forced his clients to cut back on advertising are a cyclical problem, not like the structural challenges posed by technological disruption.

In private, however, a senior executive at a rival ad-holding firm rejects much of this optimism. Technological disruption and disintermediation, he says, will only deepen. The efficiency of targeted digital ads means companies can spend less for the same outcome in branding. ....The advertising firms are responding by hiring away talent, acquiring businesses (in 2015 Publicis bought Sapient, a digital consultancy, for $3.7bn) and gradually changing how they make money. Their plans mostly boil down to two things: investing in digital services and consolidating their collections of businesses so that they can provide a range of services to one client more cheaply under one account.
advertising  economics  marketing  advertising_agencies  Martin_Sorrell  digital_strategies  WPP  Google  Facebook  Amazon  competitive_landscape  P&G  Unilever  disruption  Deloitte  Accenture  Publicis  Omnicom  via:sparkey  ad-tech  programmatic  direct-to-consumer 
april 2018 by jerryking
P&G [Procter &Gamble] Contends Too Much Digital Ad Spending Is a Waste - WSJ
After publicly pressuring major technology platforms to help clean up the online ad market and fork over more information about the effectiveness of digital ads, Procter & Gamble Co. slashed its spending on digital advertising by more than $200 million last year.

The consumer products giant says that its push for more transparency over the past year revealed such spending had been largely wasteful and that eliminating it helped the company reach more consumers in more effective ways.
P&G  publicité  Facebook  Google  youtube 
march 2018 by sentinelle
Big brands lose pricing power in battle for consumers
Save to myFT
Anna Nicolaou in New York and Scheherazade Daneshkhu in London 2 HOURS AGO

The product manufacturers are being squeezed by the big retailers — notably, Amazon and Walmart, which together sell $600bn worth of goods a year. Walmart has long put pressure on suppliers to cut prices. Amazon’s rise has exacerbated the “deflationary impact”, Société Générale says, creating a “much tougher environment in the US”. After Amazon bought Whole Foods in June, the price war grew more intense in groceries, pushing prices to historic lows that punished producers. 

Brand loyalty has suffered in the process. Equipped with the tools to compare prices online instantly, and bombarded with more choices, shoppers are growing more likely to opt for cheaper and discounted products — particularly in categories such laundry detergent and shampoo. To keep their spots on store shelves, brands are having to accept lower prices......Former Amazon employees say the company’s algorithms scan prices across competitors in real time, automatically adjusting its own so it can offer the lowest price. While most big brands have wholesale agreements with Amazon, third-party sellers are prolific on the site, complicating price control further. A 34oz bottle of P&G’s Pantene Pro-V Shampoo & Conditioner was listed by 10 different sellers — nine of them third parties — on the shopping site.

Amazon’s dominance makes it difficult for brands to abandon the platform, or try to sell directly on their own websites. “You have 200m customers on Amazon. If you walk away, there’s 200m people who are going to just buy from your competitors,” says James Thomson, a former Amazon manager who consults brands. “You’re probably not going to win.”

“This is a pretty dire situation,” he adds. “If brands are worried about meeting quarterly targets, they can’t afford to lose Amazon sales.”

Still, “the retailers have nothing to gain by pushing [consumer products makers] into bankruptcy”,
......Consumer goods companies have responded to the pricing pressures by aggressively cutting costs, led by the “zero-based budgeting” model of 3G Capital,
large_companies  Fortune_500  brands  CPG  pricing  price_wars  shareholder_activism  Amazon  P&G  Nestlé  win_backs  price-cutting  Nelson_Peltz  shifting_tastes  Colgate-Palmolive  upstarts  Unilever  zero-based_budgeting  3G_Capital  e-commerce  Mondelez  Big_Food 
february 2018 by jerryking

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