The Amazon purchase of Whole Foods ("WF") is a strategic move to compete with the mega giant, Walmart, and will be interesting to watch.
BUT, when you compare the WF brand/offering with that of Walmart, chances are WF consumers will lose.
Farming and food laws have to change before WF consumers and local farmers don't lose in this new scenario. These very laws are why WF brand is linked to "whole paycheck." In this country we have allowed fresh food to become more expensive that it should be by giving favor to farmers producing corn and cheap crops.
The result of this decision to place profit over producing what can combat our country's obesity/diabetes problem has a domino effect, starting with the fact local farmers struggle, land has been sold to developers, and the big farming companies (known to grow food inside and use artificial lights and chemicals to mass produce) thrive.
Without understanding what they are eating, consumers have been losing for some time.
When WF came about in the '80s, they were providing what a small segment of society who were committed to eating naturally -- avoiding the processed food trend that was growing in the U.S. Now, that way of viewing food - as preventative "medicine" and fuel to greater quality of living and exercise performance - has not only been scientifically proven, but also mainstream.
Hence, why people will pay more... and if doing so will bring back local farms and support local fisheries (plus the life-giving food they produce), all the better. This is why the WF brand and business has exploded despite the costs.
(And it tastes better too. Ever have a farm-raised fried chicken over the alternative... even the Colonel's Chicken? Night and day.)
The idea of adding (Amazon) delivery and lowering costs are great... however, let's be clear: This purchase isn't about WF getting a delivery system. It's about Amazon beating Walmart profits, which would undoubtedly be a landmark move in the world of business.
What about the consumer... who depends on WF to deliver organic, natural food choices DESPITE an industry working against such clarity?
How do you go from quality to fruits and vegetables losing their taste, nutrients, health benefits? If the WF brand loses all it has been delivering in quality, the equity it has generated over the last 20+ years will disappear. Convenience is one thing; but, the Walmart food shopper isn't the WF food shopper.
No doubt Amazon can make WF a success story ...IF it invests in ways that protect the little guy. BUT, that is counter to Amazon's reputation in many sectors, including publishing.
(Recall Steven Colbert's hysterically funny commentary about the lengths Amazon will go to squeeze out the little guy's bottom-line?)
Unfortunately, this transaction is likely to hamper with the ecosystem WF has created with local farmers and health-conscious consumers. If that is the case, it will be a sad day where financials and strategy won over best interest of consumers. Unfortunately, in the process the WF brand that has been a bright light for many may just suffer in the process.
(I just hope I'm wrong.)
To learn more:
Organizations by and large are still operating as "business as usual" with quasi digital strategies layered on top.
How can you tell?
A few easy indicators... just look at the content, design and digital footprint -- usually the content is self-promotional ("Look at us") and/or adding new technology capabilities that don't align to how social communities or mobile consumption works.
Another dead giveaway?
The company has a traditional website, which represents the hierarchy of the organization or essentially represents a printed brochure.
Nothing could be worse, especially IF you want to attract and build relationships with Millennials.
A true digital strategy is about re-aligning your entire business to the marketplace in new ways that work best for the customer/member (via their phones). It's about understanding how social communities work. Period.
Mobile phones, social media and digital technologies are changing the shape of our world. As a result, there are profound opportunities for organizations to innovate, expand their reach, and generate new revenue. That is, if they are willing to transition from what has worked in the past to doing what works today.
According to Marketing General Incorporate, 2016:
The average market penetration for Associations is 43% meaning they aren't reaching over half of their potential market.
The report also points out (among many things):
It's age-old to point fingers at the marketing, communications, or membership directors as not doing their job. That's an outdated filter.
Why? For one, these directors success is only as good as (how):
Basically, it boils down to a willingness to do what is needed when looking ahead versus what has always been done in the past.
When you think about the member - their needs, preferences, biases - and build "backwards" you can see where value propositions may or may not resonate ... and locate where opportunities reside. But it takes courage to take a look at these gaps and blaze a new and sometimes unproven pathway.
There is an even more "nuanced benefit of workplace diversity: non-homogenous teams are simply smarter," according to a body of research being conducted over the last several years on why diverse teams are smarter.
We know women in executive, leadership and board positions = stronger profits The research, NYTimes (and Warren Buffet) back this up.
We also know "ethnic and racial diversity in management were 35% more likely to have financial returns above their industry mean." (McKinsey report)
Great in theory, but what does this all mean in the here and now? If we expect to see different results, we need to approach things differently.
Instead of being "right," we need to align ourselves to do what works. That takes such things as:
According to CMO Newsletter's "7 For 2017: Predictions About the Future of Branding":
"One overarching theme that traverses all these predictions is that the quest to simplify both customer and employee experiences will be paramount for CMOs in 2017."
The article's Quick Take also points out:
So how can you grow brand valuation?
The quickest way to gain insight into the answer can be gained by understanding if brand is only seen as a marketing task or HR campaign, it will have the adverse effect.
To create a culture of empathy or improved relationships with employees and/or customers and members, organizations and their leaders must be willing to make a few changes... ones that will only enhance the day-to-day (work) experiences or touch points by customers/members.
Rather than always rolling out a new initiative or campaign, organizations need to evaluate and interconnect such things as:
After more than 100 years, Ringling Brothers is closing its doors.
Like SeaWorld, Ringling Brothers has long resisted change and ignoring the realities of an evolving consumer base, who by-and-large do not want to see animals used for entertainment or be held in confinement.
Be it a result of internal perspectives being disconnected from external realities or some other disconnect, over the last 20 years the Ringling Brother brand screamed of being a dinosaur.
Even when Cirque du Soleil entered the scene causing a disruption for the traditional circus operation, Ringling only made surface level "changes" that communicated a doubling down on tradition and being an inflexible brand.
Hind sight is 20-20, but truth be told the writing was on the wall years ago. It has been interesting to watch Ringling's commercials, for example, which showed they didn't get it when it came to changing with the times. They missed opportunities to become a newer, better version of themselves and their mission to entertain.
Had they leveraged their assets in new and creative ways, I wonder what new form of entertainment we'd be enjoying or socially conscious voice Ringling could be in the world.
In comparison is the SeaWorld example, Rather than dig its heels in, SeaWorld chose to evolve. Not only has it made the commitment to make significant changes from the inside out, but the organization actually did the unthinkable -- it partnered with long-time critics to position itself as a leading environmental partner.
(Now, of course, proof is needed over time in how the company delivers to validate this to be true, but if they can do so successfully will tap into a broader customer base. They already have my attention.)
Consumers are changing. Technology is empowering this change by exposing people to alternatives - be it how we watch movies, stay in touch with our friends and families, support our favorite charities, show up at work, and/or shop for groceries.
Organizations willing to explore the potential and make important shifts can, like many tenured brands, find exciting opportunity ahead that better aligns with what consumers want and need.
After two decades of a certain way of doing business, growth and success (as well as retiring leadership), founder of PR firm wanted to take the best of legacy and take firm to next level ("2.0") that kept employees and clients at the heart of decision-making and forward pathway.
After an in-depth assessment of staff, processes, technology, leadership style, values, culture, work patterns, created a go forward approach, developed to innovating firm from the inside out.
Efforts touched every aspect of the business -- everything from business strategy, digital and marketing to technology and team restructuring to leadership style and talent development. Based on gaps and opportunities created, managed and lead initial implementation for organization's modernization project that focused on creating greater efficiencies and effectiveness; giving employees greater flexibility and responsibility; managers more effective project management and leadership styles; and providing clients continuous customer service.
Success in 18 months included:
Gaps + Opportunity Assessment; Operations + Change Management; Business Development; Senior Leadership Coaching; Talent Development; Design, UX/UI, Branding + Marketing Strategy.
Client's Challenge: While a known entity in certain circles, as the cyber industry started picking up relevancy and importance in the general public and business community the question became how best to not only attract additional funding to have a broader impact, but also use influence to offer a more immediate solution to the shortage of cyber security employees needed by state and Federal governments, and businesses.
Opportunity: After conducting a deep-dive assessment of the small non-profit's goals, "assets" and opportunities, identified strategic approach to:
Project Components: Business + Marketing Strategy; Branding/Design; Website Development; Partnerships
This is according to a 2015 Gallup poll, which points out:
Currently, only slightly more than 30% of employees in U.S. workplaces are engaged in their work and workplaces. This figure has hardly budged in nearly 15 years. But it doesn't have to be that way. Some organizations have 70% engagement or higher, and this hasn't happened by chance. They outpace their competitors in financial performance and make the lives of their employees better in the process.
Investing in talent, management and leadership development are important to the bottom line. What's most strategic, however, is when the education provided aligns with the organization's:
As the Gallup poll concluded:
Few organizations have enough great managers. And there is no other job that has as much combined influence on American business success or failure as the manager.
This is the Gokotta Group's blog.
It is the place for us to make note of changing times, new ways of thinking, and provide examples of how greater impact is being created. It's also a spot we can focus on people. And, occasionally, showcase the type of projects the Gokotta team supports (see "Case Studies" below).