Speed...Adaptation...And the Consumer Goods Industry

One of my great friends Steve Rosenstock (of Clarkston Consulting), recently shared some content with me on the Consumer Goods space and thoughts on the future. Enjoy!


Earlier this week, I was thinking about a recent conversation I had with a CIO from a top 20 Consumer Products company.  We were discussing his top priorities for the coming year and whether or not he was able to get all of the related projects approved within the 2010 budget.  He jokingly answered, "What is a budget?"   Now, while his organization is obviously putting together their plans, forecast and budget for the coming year, the message he was trying to convey was very much understood.  Simply, the volatility of the world we currently live in makes it almost impossible to plan for the months ahead, let alone the coming year.  


Which brings me to the concept of 'adaptability and agility'.  With consumers harder to predict, successful product innovations harder to anticipate and sales harder to forecast, the speed with which companies are able to adapt will be the single most important enabler of success.  Clarkston Consulting recently teamed up with Virginia Tech's Pamplin School of Business to conduct research into what executives are seeing as leading drivers for the next decade. 


Looking towards the future, executives feel the need to ensure their organizations are set up and fine tuned for responsiveness and able to quickly respond to ever-changing customer and consumer needs.  This shift in theory necessitates a change in focus.  Where companies currently invest in planning and forecasting the future, we would recommend spending equal time on making sure your company can respond to changes quickly and that all aspects of your organization have the capacity to rapidly adapt.  I have included a link which summarizes our research and looks ahead to other future industry trends - 2010 Industry Trends Report


In addition, outlined below are a few interesting stories of interest from the past few weeks:


Meeting Shoppers Halfway: Leading brands have shown a recent up-tick in sales of their premium priced products.  Are fewer shoppers basing their buying decisions on price alone?

New Web Sales Option for Household Goods: This article discusses the on-line store and how CP companies are increasing their investment in similar retail outlets.

P&G Launches On-line Store:  Described as a "learning lab" for P&G, this is further evidence of their continued desire to engage directly with their consumers.