Make Your Best Customers Even Better

Make Your Best Customers Even Better

by Eddie Yoon, Steve Carlotti, and Dennis Moore

Just over a year ago, managers at Kraft believed that their Velveeta brand had only moderate growth prospects. With the consumer migration toward natural and organic products, sales of Velveeta—a processed, unrefrigerated “cheese food”—had languished. The customers who did buy it typically used it once or twice a year, usually to make a party dip. But as we began working with Kraft and analyzing supermarket scanner and consumer panel data, we found a hard-core group of Velveeta fans. They constituted 10% of buyers but accounted for 30% to 40% of revenue and more than 50% of profits. In focus groups, these buyers—whom we dubbed superconsumers—said that they think of Velveeta as superior cheese. They love the way it melts smoothly and easily, and they have myriad uses for it, ones that range far beyond dips (one person even claimed to use a little when making fudge). After we finished questioning the superconsumers, they traded recipes, e-mails, and phone numbers with one another—building friendships around their shared passion for Velveeta. Read more of this post

Manage Your Work, Manage Your Life

Manage Your Work, Manage Your Life

by Boris Groysberg and Robin Abrahams

Work/life balance is at best an elusive ideal and at worst a complete myth, today’s senior executives will tell you. But by making deliberate choices about which opportunities they’ll pursue and which they’ll decline, rather than simply reacting to emergencies, leaders can and do engage meaningfully with work, family, and community. They’ve discovered through hard experience that prospering in the senior ranks is a matter of carefully combining work and home so as not to lose themselves, their loved ones, or their foothold on success. Those who do this most effectively involve their families in work decisions and activities. They also vigilantly manage their own human capital, endeavoring to give both work and home their due—over a period of years, not weeks or days. Read more of this post

Choosing the Right Customer

Choosing the Right Customer

by Robert Simons

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All companies claim that their strategies are customer driven. But the term “customer” is among the most elastic in management theory. A working definition might be that your customers are the people or entities that buy your products and services and supply your revenue. That includes any number of actors in a company’s value chain: consumers, whole­salers, retailers, purchasing departments, and so forth. Some companies go as far as to label internal units as customers: Manufacturing is a customer of R&D, for instance, and both are customers of HR. Read more of this post

Kering’s Chairman & CEO François-Henri Pinault on Finding the Elusive Formula for Growing Acquired Brands

Kering’s CEO on Finding the Elusive Formula for Growing Acquired Brands

by François-Henri Pinault

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The Idea: When Pinault’s team buys a new luxury brand, it drives organic growth by helping the brand with product development, logistics, and retail stores and by pairing creative designers with strong business executives. Read more of this post

Why China Can’t Innovate

Why China Can’t Innovate

by Regina M. Abrami, William C. Kirby, and F. Warren McFarlan

The Chinese invented gunpowder, the compass, the waterwheel, paper money, long-distance banking, the civil service, and merit promotion. Until the early 19th century, China’s economy was more open and market driven than the economies of Europe. Today, though, many believe that the West is home to creative business thinkers and innovators, and that China is largely a land of rule-bound rote learners—a place where R&D is diligently pursued but breakthroughs are rare. Read more of this post

Fear of Being Different Stifles Talent

Fear of Being Different Stifles Talent

by Kenji Yoshino and Christie Smith

Diversity is a near-universal value in corporate America, but the upper tiers of management remain stubbornly homogeneous. Consider Fortune 500 CEOs: Only 23 are female, just six are black, and none are openly gay. Why so few gains at the top? We believe that one factor is a phenomenon sociologists call “covering,” whereby people downplay their differences from the mainstream. Someone with a disability might forgo her cane at work, say, while a gay man might avoid using “he” or “him” if asked about his partner. Such behavior is driven not just by self-censorship or internalized biases but also by pressure from managers. It decreases employees’ confidence and engagement and, we think, holds women and minorities back. Read more of this post

Lead from the Heart; Your job as a leader is to tap into the power of that higher purpose-and you can’t do it by retreating to the analytical. If you want to lead, have the courage to do it from the heart

Lead from the Heart

by Gail McGovern

When an executive comes from the private sector to a nonprofit, the usual understanding is that he or she is there to inject some business discipline. When I arrived at the American Red Cross, there were certainly problems to be tackled. The books were closed on FY08 just six days after I started, with a $209 million operating deficit. The organization had been running deficits for some years, borrowing just to provide working capital, and we were more than $600 million in debt. Frankly, we were not very good at fundraising. Yes, we had a terrific brand—the second best-known in the world—but even that needed refreshing. Read more of this post

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