STRATEGY & ALIGNMENT
DRIVING EXPONENTIAL GROWTH FOR FRITO-LAY BRANDS
Situation: Multicultural consumers were a big, growing and highly influential demographic leading trends in everything from fine arts to food trends in the United States. While they were among the most frequent snack consumers, they preferred regional brands to Frito-Lay brands. Frito-Lay distribution, sales, share, and brand equity vastly under-performed with this consumer base in geographies where Frito-Lay should be strong. The company suspected significant upside by penetrating this market.
Challenge: Evaluate the opportunity and “crack the code” on the strategy to capture the upsides offered by multicultural consumers. Prove out the consumer platform, business model and strategy.
What we did: We built an award winning new business platform from end-to-end – from insight to strategy to implementation.
It was clear that Frito-Lay’s current “import model” was not working. Consumers did not now the brands and products. Revenue and margins were low. Sales was not engaged in the program. Store focused initiatives were expensive and not scalable.
Research proved our hypothesis that multicultural consumers loved Frito-Lay’s big brands but they did not address the unique culture and needs multicultural consumer. With this perspective, we refocused effort on increasing the visibility and relevance of the big brands with 4 priorities – launching targeted products with broad appeal; investing in integrated, relevant marketing; building brand and media partnerships; and launching “Power of One” customer activations.
To dial in messaging, we led research and workshops to evolve the brand positioning and messaging for the audience. Simultaneously, we developed an extensive portfolio of new products. We hired new agencies, including director Spike Lee, and created new advertising in support of the new products. New media partnerships with BET, Univision and others enabled visibility on previously untapped media outlets. To gain scale and further credibility, the team partnered with Mountain Dew, Pepsi and AND1 brands for advertising, public relations, local and event marketing. To drive trial, the team activated stores through the “Power of One” cross-merchandising of Pepsi and Doritos. With the marketing in place, we moved four new products from concept to launch in ½ the normal time, breaking the mold for rapid innovation processes at the company.
The result: The multicultural growth platform grew 35%, five times overall company growth over 18 months. The platform achieved generated over $600M in gross revenue and expanded profit gross margin by 5 points. Product test scores for innovation stood among the highest ever seen in the company. Advertising produced the second highest ROI in the portfolio. The team won numerous company and industry awards for its innovation and creative marketing. Sales was fully engaged and asking for more programming to drive sales in their key accounts.
“Stuart is able to create a path and develop processes and initiatives that help take the strategy and really land it. There’s a lot of smart guys in consulting who are good at PowerPoint slides and creating high level strategy, but he has an uncanny way of making that strategy really land at the front line and on the shelf.”
CMO, Britvic North America
TRANSFORMING STARBUCKS INTERNATIONAL FOOD
Situation: Starbucks’ international food operated in 52 markets outside of the United States in a decentralized and localized business model. Comp sales growth were inconsistent across markets. The quality of the food product and in-store experience was inconsistent. Partners lacked focus, pride and ownership of the food business. There was little and inconsistent innovation and limited integration with the beverage business. Yet, at the same time, food was a potent and profitable strategic growth platform for the company.
Challenge: Develop and implement the strategy to profitably upgrade and grow a Starbucks quality food business across international markets.
What We Did: Through deep-dive interviews with leaders across the business, in-market visits, benchmarking best in class food brands, and working in the stores with baristas, we gained deep perspective on the business, its opportunities and its key growth levers.
Starbucks has a clear share purpose – “To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one cup, one store, and one neighborhood at a time.” Through a series of workshops and other forums, we led the team to translate the Starbucks purpose into a shared, inspired mission for the food platform. As a coffee company, the mission was apparent, although not easy to achieve: “To create a Starbucks food experience as good as its coffee experience.”
With this perspective and purpose as our handle, the team quickly identified 4 priorities to grow the business and upgrade the quality of the food experience. Over the next 18 months, we hired, trained and lead a new international food team network and, together, unleashed a long list of baseline as well as breakthrough initiatives and innovation, including over 80 new product recipes, new food management standards, and the new Starbucks warm food technology across the majority of Starbucks’ 52 markets.
The Result: International markets returned to strong, positive comp growth cross all but a select few countries. Food quality and consistency achieved new, higher levels of customer satisfaction and fit with the brand. The food team owned and led the food platform together, creating a sustainable, competitive Starbucks quality food program at the global and local level.
THE TURNAROUND OF A STRUGGLING ICONIC BRAND
Situation: Aladdin, one of America’s oldest consumer goods brands, was struggling. Business growth was nominal and profit was elusive. The scattered product portfolio, marketing, sales and operational efforts reflected a lack of a clear positioning, priorities and process. The brand was slow to respond to major retailers and new competitors had gained a foothold. The CEO and Board were frustrated with lack of focus of the brand and poor business results.
Challenge: Reposition the brand, clarify the priorities and initiate a broad turnaround of the brand and business.
What We Did: We rapidly gained a deep perspective of the market, diving into consumer and competitive data, meeting with key customers and buyers, interviewing partners and leaders throughout the company. Through a series of workshops using traditional brand positioning frameworks, the team explored important questions around the target consumer, their needs, their behaviors, and how the brand uniquely served the consumer relative to the emerging competitive set. The team evolved the brand’s positioning from “specialty and exclusive” – a luxury space it had never penetrated – to “special and inclusive.” While making the brand less elite, the team narrowed its focus to stylish women who are young at heart, seek and appreciate affordable quality.
Previously resistant to mass channels, the team unleashed a pipeline of new products, including its modern Mason Jar platform which had early success at retail. In 1/3 the normal development time, we led the team to design, prototype, produce and ship an expanded Mason line-up to major retailers. The team wrapped its first integrated marketing and sales-driving programs around the launch. In addition, the team initiated a long-term core product line transformation eliminating tired, legacy product and packaging while, simultaneously, redesigning and transitioning to a new core line and packaging that beat the rapidly emerging competition.
The Result: Over a 24-month period, sales and profit doubled for Aladdin, achieving the largest revenue and profit in the brand’s history. Surveys confirmed that women shoppers perceived the brand as “cool,” “stylish” and “a brand for me.” The team reduced product SKUs over 40%, vastly simplifying overall sales and operations. Consumer research validated that new core product and packaging designs beat competition on all key measures. Key accounts agreed to test and expand the new line.
ALIGNING REEBOK INTERNATIONAL’S 5-YEAR VISION & STRATEGY
Situation: After losing the long time share battle with Nike, Reebok International’s leadership needed to envision a new future. Senior executive leadership worked together to set its 5-year vision and specific goals for the global organization but had not gained the broad input and commitment of the larger organization.
Challenge: Build a broad commitment, led by Reebok North America, to the 5-year vision and goals for Reebok International.
What We Did: Alignment is not gained by enforcing a vision and goals. Alignment and sustainable results are gained by engaging, listening for and incorporating broad and deep perspectives from experts up, down and across the system. Working with Reebok North America’s SVP/General Manager and his leadership team, we designed and led the team through a process to translate the vision into a working 5-year mission and goals – or desired end states. Following upon the high-level alignment discussions, we designed and led a two-day process with leadership, their directors and selected managers. The team had robust debates on refinements to the 5-year mission and goals. The goals were refined to the point when the team arrived at a better than 80% aligned articulation of them. Upon completion, the teams affirmed their personal commitments to achieving the goals. Following the goals alignment process, we led numerous workshops to sequence each of the high-level goals and, for the first year, identify actions and leaders to achieve the annual goals.
The Result: Although Reebok faced significant business challenges in the coming years, the North American operating region achieved a new level of focus, commitment and teamwork to the vision of the company.
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