Brand Initiatives - why do some FMCG companies get it wrong?

Aperio FMCG ConsultingBrand Initiatives - why do FMCG companies get it wrong?

By Michael Wood, Aperio Director

The amount of activity in the FMCG category is mind boggling. If you just walk down any supermarket aisle you will see an explosion of new to market product innovations, consumer promotions or just simple price promotions. You would expect that shoppers would be blown away by how much activity there is, or will they?

Despite spending a lot of money, resources and time on planning and executing their brand initiatives most companies fail to deliver on expectations, don’t get noticed by shoppers and don’t deliver incremental sales, profit or market share.

The reason for this can be found in mistakes made during the planning or execution stage of these brand initiatives and most FMCG companies perpetuate these errors again and again. These common mistakes FMCG companies make have simple solutions and if they were incorporated into how they operate they would result in better brand initiatives and better results.

Aperio advises their FMCG clients on "improving planning & executing of brand initiatives".

Organization capability

Many organizations don’t understand how many initiatives their sales team can execute at one given time and typically more and more initiatives are pushed onto the sales organization. The result: too many initiatives meaning poor execution with a lack of focus and capability being too thinly spread. The results suffer. So the first important point is to understand how many initiatives you can do each cycle and plan accordingly.

TIP 1: Less is more and bigger is better

Tier Initiatives

Aperio FMCG - Brand Initiatives - why do FMCG companies get it wrongBased on how difficult to execute your initiatives are, a simple method of calculating the complexity of a promotion can be done based on whether it is a new sku, a simple packaging change, how many skus are affected, a new product listing, does shelf intervention have to happen with new planograms or are there off-shelf displays and so on. A scoring system linked to your organization capability will again help ensure the right number of initiatives are planned.

TIP 2: Remember complexity kills

Size of Prize

What are the success measures you have for your initiatives? What is the size of prize? Are these initiatives going to deliver your brand and companies goals? Answering these questions are critical yet you would be surprised how many companies don’t have clear goals. Often the most complex initiatives deliver the lowest returns.

TIP 3: Does your initiative really deliver?

Master Calendar

Ensure you have a brand and company master calendar with all the initiatives mapped, this ensures visibility, good planning, decision-making and prioritization, tied into capability, complexity and size of prize.

TIP 4: Provide an initiative road map of the next 12-18 months

Consumer & Shopper Appeal

You need to ask the relevant questions: How appealing is the initiative for consumer or shoppers? Does it meet their needs? Many initiatives are executed without assessing how appealing or relevant they are.

TIP 5: Be clear on is it relevant to my shoppers and how will your initiative be communicated to your shoppers

Customer Appeal

For retailers & wholesalers all too often brand initiatives are planned with little or no regard as to how much they would or would not appeal to them, so it should be no surprise when initiatives are rejected or poorly accepted.

TIP 6: Ask yourself these questions in relation to your customers (retail & wholesale):

  1. Does my initiative grow the category size or customers market share (not my brand share)?
  2. Does it complicate or simplify the customer’s life, for example does it add or reduce the number of skus?
  3. Does it improve or dilute the customer’s profitability?
  4. How appealing is it for my customers and shoppers?
  5. How simple is it to execute? Complicated executions usually fail or are problematic.

Decision Gates

Have a number of checks in your planning process principally: a) will the brand initiative deliver on my goals b) will all the elements be ready on-time for execution. Often execution fails, due to some element not being ready, like POS not being ready, product not being manufactured on time or any number of issues that better planning should normally manage.

TIP 7: Be ready to make a go or no go decision


Good execution must have strong concept selling stories to convince customers of the relevance, opportunity and importance of the initiative. What is needed is a simple deployment plan of who does what and when, which is tracked.

TIP 8: Clear, understandable instructions to your sales force on what needs to be done, when, by who and how is critical

Aperio works with FMCG companies helping them design, plan and execute winning brand initiatives that deliver on brand strategy and brand goals.