Working Harder But Going Slower

Maybe you’ve seen the commercial with the swimming pool filled with caramel? Well, in this economy with layoffs and “doing more with less”, many CPG’s have a similar problem.  In fact, whether it’s a new product, a new marketing campaign, or simply changing the graphics on a package, many CPG firms were terribly slow before the downturn. Now they have reduced work forces but not reduced work so they’re working harder but going slower.

With everyone already working more hours and doing more with less, can anyone seriously consider going “faster with fewer”?  The benefits of getting ideas to market faster make for a compelling business case.  If you can get your new product to market faster, you can accelerate revenue and earnings realization (the #2 to market generally loses 25% of sales to #1 and being late to market can reduce profits by as much as 33%).  Cutting the time it takes to get a marketing program developed and in store allows for a quicker response to consumer trends or competitive incursions.  And a major player in the personal care product space cut the time for package and artwork development by 40% enabling them to increase the number of releases by 3x and aggressively move from 0% market share to over 15% in a market category.

Redesigning the business for speed can help companies capture all the benefits listed above and several benefits for employees as well.

  • It results in a clearer focus of talent on the things they were hired to do.  For example, an assessment of a global consumer products company done a few years ago, revealed marketing was spending more time on financial and administrative tasks than on all consumer related tasks combined.
  • It eliminates frustrating waste and bureaucracy.  A CPG in a more heavily regulated segment had become so tangled in its own processes that it took 16 signatures from 7 layers of management to approve a single piece of packaging artwork.  Talk about frustrating…
  • It results in faster personal development.  Once the business has been designed to focus talent on the right things, eliminate frustrating bureaucracy and begin speeding ideas to market faster, it results in quicker “cycles of learning”.  Instead of doing 1 or 2 marketing initiatives in a given timeframe, employees are doing 3 or 4.  They learn and develop much faster enriching themselves and increasing their value to the business.

Designing your business to get ideas to market faster pays big dividends for both the business and its employees: accelerated business results, clearer focus of talent, less frustration, faster personal development.  So, yes, it’s time to drain the caramel-filled swimming pool.  Time to go faster with fewer.

I hope to connect with you on this subject and other great shopper marketing topics at the 2011 Shopper Insights in Action conference sponsored by IIR USA in a couple weeks in Chicago.  See you there.