Marketing and Manufacturing Collaboration

By DeVerges Jones

My marketing career has spanned several decades. In many instances departmental/divisional silos still exist. While collaboration is talked about a lot in some cases it is not practiced. However, it is improving and the need for team work and collaboration is still very important. While several things have evolved – notice I did not use changed most basic principles remain the same. For the most part a lot of the programs and activities I used to increase the value of my brand have been focused primarily and narrowly on marketing mix elements. Optimizing media deliveries, right sizing packaging, unique and clever consumer promotions and award-winning advertising were part of my portfolio. While I worked with manufacturing, I did not use their unique expertise to solve a marketing problem or competitive issue.

When I was managing coffee brands for Kraft General Foods, we were faced with some regional pricing pressure from numerous small brands. While our brand had a dominant share of the decaffeinated segment of the market, the encroachment by these regional brands was hurting us. Sales wanted to lower the price immediately therefore resulting in lower margins. I did not want to do that, and I knew management would not want that as the ultimate solution.

My next step was visiting with the head of manufacturing to understand some options. We delivered our product in the form of a single serve envelop for the restaurant trade. Obviously, this is prior to the onslaught by Starbucks! All the merchandising was done at the point of purchase on a display or at the countertop. There were typically 80 envelops servings per display. Manufacturing suggested they could build a random pack with no cartons loosely packed in a large box holding thousands of envelopes. This resulted in a major manufacturing cost

savings that would more than offset the price reduction needed in selected markets. Given that the brand had a dominant (strangle hold) share, and we were preparing to launch an away from home TV advertising campaign in key markets the brand risks were low. Some minimal merchandising was lost but overall brand recognition was extremely high. Margin was enhanced with the manufacturing savings. Competition had to go deeper with price discounting, but that strategy did not work successfully because consumers believed their product was inferior given their reactionary deeper lower price point.

In summary when I started my career in marketing managers had to be very fluent in understanding consumer needs and wants. That was the key thrust for any marketing manager. Later in my career and with the creation of the CMO role the commitment to total business understanding was critical. Manufacturing, P&L expertise, trade understanding, customer service, production planning, logistics, sourcing, international trade relations etc. became an important aspect of the marketing manager role.

The collaborative role marketing executives must play is very important to long term success. Looking holistically at all aspects of the business is key. Matter-a- fact in many instances people not close to your business or specific marketing discipline may have unique ideas to address the needs of the brand.

I specialize in a general management focus on marketing. Understanding many aspects of your business provides a deeper insight that will be very beneficial long term. If you are a small to mid-sized company and need assistance, I can be reached at the address below.

DeVerges Jones
Marketing Leadership Group devergesjones@gmail.com 949-861-1916

 

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