Ask any marketer just how difficult it is to stand out from the competition and increase market share, and if they are honest, the most common answer will be “very tough.” The foodservice industry as a whole is very competitive, both among the end-user customers, as well as the companies that sell into them, and it’s not going to get any easier. So what can you, who are tasked with marketing your company, do to separate yourself from the competition and become even more relevant to your customers? Let me suggest you adopt what I am coining the “Three Marketing Ds”: disruption, data and digital.
Let’s start by discussing disruption.
Here at VantagePoint, I often say that the words “status quo” are not in our vocabulary. If you are not advancing, you are retreating. The first “D,” disruption, is something every company should give serious thought to as it has the real potential to make a significant, long-term difference. Defined as “a radical change in business strategy that materially affects the economics and/or creates a new market,” disruption has to be planned, and it typically takes a long-term perspective. Granted, this is much easier said than done, but one thing is for sure, it never happens if there is not a focus on it.
We are all familiar with real world examples of companies that are great disruptors: Dell, IKEA and Amazon for their disintermediation of the value chain or Netflix, Starbucks, Uber and Blue Apron for a differentiated value proposition. Closer to home within the foodservice industry, Coca-Cola changed the game significantly for the soft drink industry with its introduction of the Freestyle machine, creating a highly experiential customer experience by giving them the power to “create” their drink of choice, which was not possible before. This product was in development for years, all because Coca-Cola wanted to have a truly differentiated product that would in fact be a disruptor in the foodservice industry and help them take share away from Pepsi.
A whole new industry in the last few years has been created as companies like grubHub, DoorDash and Postmates recognized the increasing interest and need for consumers to have their restaurant food delivered to them. They saw a space where customer needs were not being met and created companies to fill that void. Now these same companies are further differentiating themselves by using the latest in technology to make it even easier for the customer to engage with them.
Sure, not every company can have the same level of disruption as the companies mentioned in the previous paragraphs; however, the questions that must be asked and answered by every company that truly wants to take share and differentiate themselves are:
- What processes and team(s) do we have in place today that will allow us to be disruptive in what we do in the future?
- Is there a better way to reach the market?
- How can we take a deep customer point-of-view and shape a strategy or product that will generate greater value?
- What can we offer or how can we offer it up better, easier, faster or cheaper to create new opportunities?
These and other critical marketing questions should be a focus for every company. And if not, those companies will be left behind, relegated to a “me-too” status, which is not a good place to be.
If you haven’t started down this path of asking what a disruption strategy could look like for your company, now’s the time to get started. Pull together a cross-functional team and begin the process. In my opinion, the CMO should take the lead, but it will require total buy-in and involvement with most, if not all of the c-suite. There are numerous articles and books on the subject that can help inform you along the journey. Keep in mind that while you focus on this, you don’t want to blow up prematurely what got you to where you are. It’s a fine line but those who are willing to take appropriate risks and make needed changes will be the winners.
In my next two blogs, I’ll share how to unpack the other two “Marketing Ds” — data and digital — and what this can look like for those who market into the foodservice world and beyond.