In this episode, I talk to Professor Dr Jan-Benedict Steenkamp, author, distinguished scholar and one of the world’s leading experts in the Consumer Packaged Goods industry.

I was lucky enough to study both Global Marketing and Consumer Behaviour under Professor Steenkamp  for my MSc in Marketing in 1999.

His deep understanding of the leading consumer packaged goods companies and the industry they play in, along with his infectious energy and enthusiasm, still makes him one of my favourite people to learn from.

Jan-Benedict is one of the most cited marketing scholars globally, is the author of four books including Global Brand Strategy, Private Label Strategy, and most recently, Retail Disruptors. He is also a consultant to many of the largest Consumer Packaged Goods companies in the world.

In this interview we discuss what’s worrying large Consumer Packaged Goods companies about driving organic growth, and Jan-Benedict suggests three things they should be doing differently.

Episode 4 Timestamps:

[00:21] – Introducing today’s guest, author, distinguished scholar, and one of the world’s leading experts in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry, Professor. Dr. Jan-Benedict Steenkamp.

[01:25] – What is worrying some of the largest CPG companies in the world about trying to drive organic growth? Prof. Steenkamp identifies some of the factors that stunted organic growth and the market shifts we are seeing.

[03:20] – The growth the smaller companies are creating is quite significant; how did social media and rising distrust of larger brands help contribute to this?

[05:10] – How concerned are the big CPG companies about the growth of these smaller brands?

[07:29] – Why don’t the large CPG companies move more quickly in coming up with their own innovations? Also, why is it that the smaller brands, once acquired by a large company, sometimes lose their edge? Prof. Steenkamp discusses the impact of the group dynamic and corporate culture.

[13:43] – Recently, it seems that some CPG companies’ marketing teams located in other countries are watering down and repurposing brands already available in other markets, when the original is not available in their own. How does this come to be and why are they launching these less appealing products? We consider what “Brand Authenticity” really means, and how important it is.

[18:01] – What does the term “zero based budgeting” refer to and where do we see it happening? Prof. Steenkamp explains why it’s a bad idea for finance people to be in charge of brand building.

[22:48] – What can the big incumbent brands do to make their brands more relevant to the consumers? What works, often depends on the industry. Areas to focus on include – investing more money in R&D, crowdsourcing, innovation and looking at market trends.

[26:16] – Why don’t these big companies always respond to the results of consumer research and the market trends they are seeing? Prof. Steenkamp explains the challenge of understanding the undercurrents driving trends and the fear of undermining the brand.

[29:01] – Finally Prof. Steenkamp shares the three things that large CPG companies with incumbent brands should do differently.

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