Mack IMPACT Forum examines how to thrive in a disrupted world

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Mack IMPACT Forum examines how to thrive in a disrupted world


SAN DIEGO, Calif.  — “We all love predictability and feel stress during moments of change and disruption. But the future is about expanding in our intangible leadership skills so we can better manage the changing environment. There has been too much change in too short of time. Tomorrow is all about how you think, not just what you know. We must all expand our capacity. Amazon has disrupted everyone’s journey, and we must change along with it.”

That was the opening challenge issued by Dan Mack, founder of Mack Elevation Forum, at the IMPACT Forum, a one-day event hosted by the organization in August.

The event explored how CPG companies protect and grow traditional retail customer business, and thrive in the digital space. Among the key ideas discussed at the Fourm was a recent insight from Forrester Research that looks at Amazon simultaneously as a sales catalyst, a marketing engine and a competitive threat. “Tomorrow’s best organizations will understand how to co-exist and thrive with Amazon and grow their top traditional retailer partners. It will take new thinking, capabilities, structures and mindsets to achieve this vision,” said Mack.

The event featured four unique voices commenting on new thinking, strategies and philosophies for nurturing a portfolio of digital and conventional retail customers to meet the needs of today’s new consumer.

Bryan Gildenberg, chief knowledge officer, Kantar Retail, talked about the “New World Order” and the global implications of disruptive change.

“Ninety percent of all big brands have lost market share,” Gildenberg said. “By 2020, the average consumer will be spending $2 on non-stuff (intangibles), and $1 on stuff (tangibles). Premium products must deliver a measurable premium benefit. The future is about moving from product to transformational experience. All brands are now in ‘perpetual moments of truth.’ It’s all about moving consumers to conversion.” 

Nathan Rigby, VP sales and marketing for One Click Retail, led a discussion on “Best in Class Digital Intelligence.” 

“Granular data understanding is vital in uncovering the truth about your digital business,” Rigby said at the start of the presentation. “You may be misled and not even know it. Sales people are removed from the quote process at Amazon. And brands must create thoughtful strategy, structure, and skills to drive Amazon’s success and optimize their conventional retailer business.”

Melissa Burdick of Leigh and Burdick’s e-commerce and Amazon advisory, talked about “Blind Spots in Amazon Partnerships,” shining light and correcting misperceptions about Amazon’s pricing strategy.

“Amazon is a huge magnifying glass,” she said. “They are price-followers and do not set national price strategy. They essentially follow the price dynamic you have created in the national marketplace. Amazon is not the catalyst; the manufacturer creates their own pricing problems.”

Patrick Miller, co-founder of Fly Wheel Digital, discussed “Optimizing the Amazon Ecosystem.” According to Miller, “Amazon is customer-obsessed, long-term oriented, and fueled by innovation,” he said. “And they are dramatically more efficient at buying media than Facebook and Google. Customer experience is their ultimate scorecard; everything runs through this filter.” 

“The key for everyone in balancing pricing is to clean up your own mess in the marketplace,” Miller added.

In summation, Mack reminded Forum attendees, “many of the most relevant brands manage a portfolio of distribution streams to meet the customer where they are at in the larger consumer ecosystem. The best retailers and brands are artists, filled with emotion and personality. Speed and experimentation are the new currency. Resource optimization no longer creates competitive advantage. It’s now about creating platforms, brandable services and true value creation that matters to the consumer.”

As an example, Mack shared the philosophy of Jimmy Iovine, music executive, producer and co-creator of Beats by Dre headphones: “I have learned to harness fear. When I start to feel it, I move forward…I took the rearview mirror off my car a long time ago.” 

“The most interesting companies embrace the question, ‘what’s next,’” Mack said.