jerryking + category_killers   8

Toys ‘R’ Us Case Is Test of Private Equity in Age of Amazon
MARCH 15, 2018 | The New York Times | By MICHAEL CORKERY.

The reality is that Toys “R” Us, which announced on Thursday that it would shutter or sell all of its stores in the United States, never had much chance at a turnaround.

For over a decade, Toys “R” Us had been drowning in $5 billion of debt, which its private equity backers had saddled it with. With debt payments siphoning off cash every year, Toys “R” Us could not properly invest in its worn-out suburban stores or outdated website. Sales plummeted, as Amazon captured more children’s desires — and their parents’ wallets — for Star Wars Legos and Paw Patrol recycling trucks.

Toys “R” Us is the latest failure of financial engineering, albeit one that could portend a potentially more ominous outlook for private equity in the digital era.....Most buyouts tend to work the same way. A private equity firm takes over a troubled company with the goal of sprucing up the strategy, cutting costs and overhauling the business over three or five years. But they often load up a company with debt to pay for the deal, which can prove problematic if the profits do not perk up.

In the age of Amazon, that formula can be dangerous. Consumer demands are changing so quickly that heavily indebted companies have trouble reordering their business to adapt and compete with better-funded rivals...... the deterioration of Toys “R” Us from a potential turnaround strategy to the end of an iconic brand — in a matter of months — shows just how difficult it can be for private equity to compete in a rapidly evolving industry. In retailing, Amazon is reordering everything on the store shelf. And children’s changing interest in games and toys, which now encompasses high-end electronics, adds to the complexity.....Enter Amazon. In recent years, the company had started to aggressively expand its toy business, creating a comprehensive, online showroom with low prices at the click of a button. Pressed by Amazon, Walmart also pushed hard into toys, dropping its prices to capture more market share.

Walmart could absorb the price cuts on toys because it makes up the profit on other items. But for Toys “R” Us, a price war on toys and games, its only offerings, was devastating.
private_equity  bankruptcies  toys  digital_economy  Amazon  Wal-Mart  KKR  Bain_Capital  Toys_"R"_Us  financial_engineering  LBOs  buyouts  shifting_tastes  category_killers  price_wars 
march 2018 by jerryking
A Hard Turnaround for Software: Software Companies Caught in a Downward Spiral Find It Exceptionally Difficult to Escape. Yet a Determined Few Succeed
Summer 2002 |The McKinsey Quarterly By Blumling, Mark; Frick, Kevin A.; Meehan, William F.,, III

While executing a turnaround in any industry can be a difficult task, digging a software business ou...
category_killers  cost-cutting  downward_spirals  howto  increasing_returns_to_scale  McKinsey  software  switching_costs  turnarounds  winner-take-all  from notes
january 2015 by jerryking
How to battle a dominant brand
Nov. 29 2012| The Globe and Mail | SUSAN KRASHINSKY - MARKETING REPORTER.

This emphasis on customer service, insinuating that dominance has made the competitor lazy because they can afford not to try as hard, is one way to challenge a highly dominant competitor.

Another way is to chip away at a niche segment the competitor may not be looking at. The sweetener product Stevia is currently attempting this. It is facing a very crowded market for sugar alternatives: Globally, roughly 50,000 tonnes of high-intensity sweeteners will have been consumed by the end of 2012. Aspartame accounts for about half of the market in terms of volume, according to Euromonitor International. Saccharine and sucralose, the ingredient in Splenda, also each have a healthy share.

The marketing for Stevia, like other sweeteners, revolves around a reduced calorie option for consumers attempting to keep a healthy lifestyle; with one difference. While other sweeteners are associated with being highly processed, chemical products, Stevia markets itself as natural.

“There’s such a demand for reduced calorie products, and because Stevia has that added natural benefit, it’s doing fairly well and competing for space,” said Lauren Bandy, an ingredients analyst with Euromonitor. That is despite the healthy debate around just how natural the product really is.

That niche demand has helped it land deals to be included in some high-profile company’s products, such as PepsiCo’s reduced-sugar juice Trop50, in Coca-Cola’s Sprite on a test basis in France and Australia, and in some Danone yogurt products. Stevia still only has about 2 per cent of the global market in sweeteners by volume, but that’s doubled since last year. Euromonitor expects its growth to continue at a compound annual rate of 23 per cent from 2011 to 2016.

But that strategy can also be used against underdog brands. One of the most powerful ways for a company to protect its dominance is to fragment the market pre-emptively, giving challenger brands no niche to use as a foot in the door, said Niraj Dawar, a marketing professor at the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario.
brands  Nike  Stevia  Susan_Krashinsky  Google  search  Bing  market_leadership  Microsoft  underdogs  branding  product_extensions  niches  fragmentation  customer_service  pre-emption  sweeteners  sub-brands  category_killers  habits  barriers_to_entry 
december 2012 by jerryking
When Being First Doesn't Make You No. 1 - WSJ.com
AUG.12, 2004|WSJ|CRIS PRYSTAY.In Jan. 2000--almost 2 yrs.
before Apple.'s iPod hit the mkt.--Singapore-based Creative Tech.
unveiled a similar prod.: an MP3 player w. a tiny hard drive that stored
hundreds of hrs. of music. In biz., though, being 1st doesn't always
make you No. 1. Creative is best-known for its Sound Blaster audio cards
for PCs, a product category it pioneered & dominates. But it's
still a niche player; annual sales are a tenth of Apple's. Apple ran
mktg. rings around Creative even in its own backyard. For iPod's
Singapore launch in late 2001, Apple plastered the CBD with funky
posters & ran a hip ad blitz in movie theaters.Creative's response
finally came last month, when it began sponsoring a children's TV show
& running its 1st-ever TV ad campaign--but only in Singapore.
"There's been a big shift in our biz, & right now, our biggest
challenge is mktg.," concedes founder/CEO, Sim Wong Hoo. "But I'm
stingy. I don't want to waste $ unless I know it's going to work."
branding  Xerox  Ricoh  image_advertising  Apple  iPODs  competitive_landscape  product_launches  Singapore  first_movers  fast_followers  consumer_electronics  marketing  new_products  new_categories  category_killers 
october 2010 by jerryking
Create Your Own 'Big Bang' - WSJ.com
APRIL 6, 2004 | Wall Street Journal | By STEPHEN H. GOLDSTEIN.
How to spark and build a business ecosystem? following three approaches,
recently proven to be good starting points:

* Court a king. to win Wal-Mart over are standing at the head of the
line now.
* Advocate an ecosystem.
* Create a standard. In embryonic or fragmented markets, the way standards get set can be critical to the pace of market adoption and individual companies can usually play a role
in steering and setting standards.
growth  embryonic  start_ups  strategy  ecosystems  big_bang  measurements  standardization  standards  jump-start  platforms  fragmented_markets  customer_adoption  market_risk  new_categories  howto  think_threes  category_killers 
january 2010 by jerryking

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