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Retail Case Studies

Don’t Neglect Benchmarking and Training in 2021: Executive Insights from Gordon Wade

Gordon Wade notes that companies’ training programs should reflect new data and analytics developed in recent years.

As we begin the new year, the focus for many retail and consumer packaged goods (CPG) professionals naturally will be to learn from and adapt to the seismic changes we experienced in 2020, such as the e-commerce explosion.  

But in our effort to not repeat the mistakes of 2020, we cannot afford to overlook industry fundamentals and best practices. That is why we asked Gordon Wade, chairman emeritus of the Category Management Association, to share his industry insights at this critical time.

Wade, a co-creator of “category management” for the industry, developed the protocol for “Marketing Accountability” for the Association of National Advertisers. He has consulted for scores of companies around the globe, including Procter & Gamble, 7-Eleven, Citicorp and IBM.

Retail & Hospitality Hub: What’s the biggest long-term problem for most CPG companies’ brands and retailers?

Gordon Wade: Developing tomorrow’s leaders. Most companies have inadequate training and leadership development programs across the enterprise.

Given the explosion in data, most prospective leaders at every level need training in hard skills, data types, analytics and shopper metrics. Most companies need to create training programs that reflect all the new data and analytics developed in the past decade.

R&H Hub: Why do most new products fail?

Wade: New product success is driven by positive answers to six questions. Brands and retailers need to focus on answering these questions. Unfortunately, most don’t and 75% of new products fail at some point in the internal process or on the retailer’s shelves.

R&H Hub: How can I get all of my functions aligned around a single truth?

Wade: Companies need to assemble a “voice of the shopper” built around a standard taxonomy, and then inculcate it throughout the organization so that everyone can rally around the common truth and, in the process, identify what the organization doesn’t know.

R&H Hub: What’s the easiest way to get my key functions improved?

Wade: Benchmark the function against best practice including competitors’ practices. Benchmarking used to be a standard requirement for many functions at most companies but it has fallen to disuse. Most people don’t like to hear that they don’t measure up.

R&H Hub: Where can brands/retailers generate the most incremental volume most efficiently?

Wade: For retailers, it’s reducing the 20%-plus of volume their own shoppers are leaking to other retailers. Most retailers do not have an explicit leakage reduction process. For manufacturers, it’s increasing loyalty among current consumers. That’s one way of saying increase “brand equity,” a goal barely recognized by many brand owners.