“Burberry-ize” Campbell Soup?

Angela Ahrendts, CEO at Burberry, has led the reinvention of their 150-year-old brand through three core business design principles that drive everything. As a result, they are experiencing the rate of revenue and earnings growth you’d expect from an industry leader. Denise Morrison, CEO of Campbell Soup Company essentially wants to do a similar thing with their 140-year-old brand. Do the same business design principles apply? You tell me. Here’s how Campbell Soup stacks up.

Principle 1: It’s All About the Brand

Burberry started by differentiating the brand essence (“democratic luxury”) and now leverages that to drive everything else including acquisitions, store designs, the product portfolio, all consumer communications and how decisions are made internally. Campbell’s is counting on an array of new product introductions to fuel growth. Certainly important, but will it have a transformative effect that differentiates and leads to competitive advantage?

Principle 2: Focus on Millennials

To assure they are reaching Millennials, Burberry has created a culture of innovation and creativity that depends on employees that are members of this cohort (see below). They drive store, portfolio and marketing communication decisions while the “older” generation of leaders are responsible for “guiding and executing”. Campbell’s has explicitly focused on Millennials but like Burberry, does their internal corporate culture reflect that of their consumers or has it remained relatively unchanged?


Principle 3: Connect Digitally

There were three people at the core of Angela Ahrendts’ turnaround team: Angela (the CEO), the Chief Creative Officer (a Millennial) and the CIO. It’s the CIO’s responsibility to provide the technology infrastructure necessary to both connect employees internally and also to make it possible to connect with consumers on their terms (e.g., any technology or social media platform). Besides a restructuring program to take costs out, is Campbell Soup focused on a differentiating digital strategy to create a social enterprise?

It is possible “Burberry-ize” Campbell Soup. But most companies focus too much on what strategy expert Michael Porter calls “competing to be the best” which in the ends leads to competitive convergence: competitors end up all looking essentially the same. Instead, when businesses are strategically redesigning their business model they need strategies and principles that differentiate: like Burberry’s. Will Campbell Soup follow suit?

(Larry McManis is President & CEO of ThinkWay Strategies, a business design agency that focuses on helping companies reinvent themselves internally to meet the growing challenges they face externally. He frequently writes for other businesses and organizations including the Shopper Insights in Action Conference sponsored by IIR USA.)