is right and his comment reminds me of being a young aspiring marketer at M&M/Mars. We were so good at creating plans we believed those plans were our marketing.
Some years later I would read #TippingPoint
by Gladwell and realize NO marketing wasn't a series of tasks one leading to the next in a neat daisy chain: product concept, to brand, to distribution, to introduction and awareness followed by brand love and an immense following.
M&M's, a beloved brand, believed that is how they became M&M's. Nonsense. M&M's became the candy that melted in your mouth not your hand because a crazy man was beyond passionate about creating candy.
People could literally taste the Mars family passion. When I worked in Hackettstown, NJ I could SEE the passion in the hospital-clean pant and white clad workers (the elves) making M&M's.
Gladwell taught me we aren't playing a board game we ARE playing for hearts and minds and our hearts and minds must be at risk or we have little chance to win others. This idea that distribution is what matters is a left over from times when SPACE mattered.
When I began my journey as a #ConsumerProductsGoods
marketer we saw the battle as one that was controlled by grocery stores. If we could get another product facing here or there we could beat our sales goals.
Then the Internet changed everything. SPACE didn't matter. If your candy, beer or song was being talked up and advocated by fans and brand advocates it became possible to leap right over the distribution limitations an army of salespeople from Hershey, Nestle and M&M used to fight over.
I think about this experience in the context of +David Amerland
"New Value System". The system I began working in was unbalanced. That system rewarded people who HAPPENED to own grocery stores. It made grocery clerks something they are ill suited to do - become the gatekeepers of TASTE.
Grocery stores are the least innovative business model on the planet. The ONLY way they could hold such gatekeeper power is to have happened upon it by virtue of their ownership of the bricks, mortar and distribution system for our food.
I actually learned #CPG
sales in Wegmans in upstate New York, perhaps the best grocery chain in the world and I STILL don't want them determining the next cool foodie trend or cool cookie idea. Grocery stories are really efficient food delivery systems NOT stores built to thrill shoppers (with Wegmans the exception proving the rule).
The web, btw note how little impact the web has made on our grocery shopping if you doubt my "least innovative" label, removes the power from inappropriate gatekeepers. Grocers aren't stupid.
Grocers make money with average margins in the 3% range, so they are the accountants of the brick and mortar chain stores. Accountants who specialize in backend efficiency isn't who we would choose to be the gatekeepers of our taste, culture and art. And now grocers have been all but fired from such a job.
The web is a battle for hearts & minds. We may have little choice in WHERE we can shop for food (with most grocery stores being clustered around a low average), but we can influence what is on their shelves by where we allocate our attention online.
Every slot in a grocery store is paid for and they are expensive. Since we can form a relationship with that new energy bar or drink long before it arrives in Food Lion or Harris Teeter we can exert influence on the "accountants of retail" (i.e. grocers).
Accountants are nothing if not Darwinian. When a trend is clear they buy since to do anything else is to seed a potential advantage to a competitor. Sorry to say, again with Wegman's the exception, that this kind of mutually assured destruction merchandising is common among the accountants of retail shops (grocery stories).
We will figure out how to move the most creative and fun things about going to market online someday.
Until that day we can begin to create David's new "value system" by allocating our most valuable thing (Time and Attention) to those products we love and demanding (with that huge vote) a better experience from the accountants of retailing :).