How focus and pruning leads to growth
Since the Industrial Revolution, bigger has been viewed as better in the food and beverage business.
Bigger usually suggests more powerful – more capable of dictating the behaviors within a product category plus an ability to unleash a torrent of assets that work to overwhelm smaller competitors. In marketing, the common denominator in media strategy – even in the era of fractured and splintered audiences – is the lure of cobbling together scale. The motivation for scale might be the sheer balance-sheet magnetism of dramatic market projections driven from a belief that “all things to all people” is still a workable business model.
Marketing at its redefined best-in-class should follow a disciplined effort to prune rather than expand laterally. The goal: sacrifice business activity that may veer into less relevant territory where your core competency is naturally diluted.
The new marketing paradigm – mattering to someONE…
Success in today’s hyper-customized, marketing “to an audience of one” environment will go to highly differentiated brands that work overtime to mine their meaning and value with consumers who see them as devoted specialists– rather than vanilla generalists.
Rallying to a clear and concise core mission that springs from a platform of recognized skill is a better path to follow in an era that is primed to reward expertise and craftsmanship. These days, “special” is the very mirror consumers hold up to themselves and declare,“I’m not like everyone else.”
That said, we understand the enormous sense of risk pruning involves. Re-focusing strategy requires discipline. It may have an impact on product mix, channels of distribution, and overall volume forecasts. As the number of income streams diminish, there’s a heightened sense of more being at stake and the need to assure the narrower footprint yields results.
That said, the broad generalist scheme now carries more inherent risks than the focused specialist. Today, consumers recognize and value:
- Higher purpose
Indeed, the marketing game is better played now around new category creation and thus the brand’s ability to co-opt a leadership position by innovating and creating an own-able space. Power positioning as we refer to this practice, favors greater investment in key strengths – and a willingness to go deep and double-down on that course, rather than expand horizontally.
Restaurant companies are figuring this out – narrowing menu choices to invest more fully in higher-quality ingredients and skilled preparations – a better business formula than something for everyone.
Think about what you do best, what you stand for, why consumers love you. This is especially important when people are treating anything that is NOT truly meaningful to them as a commodity.
Less now makes more.
Bob Wheatley is the CEO of Chicago-based Emergent Healthy Living. Emergent provides integrated brand strategy, communications and insight solutions to national food, beverage, home and lifestyle companies. Emergent’s unique and proprietary transformation and growth focus helps organizations navigate, engage and leverage consumers’ desire for higher quality, healthier product or service experiences that mirror their desire for higher quality lifestyles. For more information, contact Bob@Emergent-Comm.com and follow on Twitter @BobWheatley.