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The Takeaways from Growth Leaders Summit London 2024

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Published: Reading time: 15 min
James Griffiths Head of Presales, RGM
James GriffithsHead of Presales, RGM
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How to build a winning brand in 2024 and beyond

Stacking the innovation odds in your favor in a (mostly) fulfilled world

How will AI impact marketing beyond data analysis?

How to build a high-performance digital transformation team

Why commercial and marketing success requires a planning transformation

Do joint business plans work?

Commercial Digital Transformations: Why Are They So Hard and What Are the Keys to Success?

Discover the Future with Tom Savigar: The Rise of Next-Generation Brands

Published:

— The digital native consumer is here to stay.

They don’t behave like previous generations. Many prefer to shop exclusively online and on mobile apps. They’re also more informed than ever, doing extensive research and reading reviews on Amazon before buying. Their tastes have also changed. Undying loyalty to name brands is a relic of the past. One influencer TikTok video can convince them to choose one established brand over a new entrant, particularly if that new entrant aligns with their ethics and sustainability values. Many prioritize value over price, causing private labels to boom amidst high inflation.

Despite CPG, FMCG, and retail companies having access to exabytes of consumer data from tracking this online activity frenzy, the financial outcomes of many of their commercial, RGM, and marketing initiatives are still lackluster. The consequences have shown up on companies’ balance sheets, and their boardrooms have taken notice. Business leaders are now realizing the necessity of adopting advanced analytics and consumer insights-driven approaches to growing top-line revenue.

Such was the backdrop of the Growth Leaders Summit London, held in partnership with Bain & Company—a one-day event for marketing, commercial, revenue growth, and demand leaders. Held at the iconic National Theatre in London, the event featured current and former executives from brands like Coca-Cola, Diageo, and Nestlé, along with world-class guest speakers who shared their perspectives on the latest best practices, trends, and technologies for driving growth in the digital age.

1. How to build a winning brand in 2024 and beyond

"Brand builders today must be creative to grab attention in this complex world."

Andrew geoghegan copy
Andrew Geoghegan, Founder and Managing Director, Future Conditional Limited

In an age of limited attention spans, how can brands secure a place in the hearts and minds of today’s consumers?

It’s all about standing out, according to Andrew Geoghegan, Future Conditional Limited’s Founder and Managing Director.

He explained that today’s consumers are overwhelmed by choice and time constraints, leading to brand apathy. "Consumers don’t care about your brand; they have too many choices and too little time, so why should they care?" he asked.

For a brand to stand out and attract attention today, he explained that it must check three boxes: meaningfulness, difference, and salience, with a particular emphasis on the last box. He said that brands must become a "purple cow," referencing Seth Godin's well-known branding treatise Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable

According to Andrew, becoming a “purple cow” in today’s marketplace requires courage and creativity. “In this volatile world, showing creativity is very important. Brand builders today must be creative to grab attention in this complex environment,” he explained. However, while being memorable is critical to a product standing out in the crowd, he explained that “physical availability”—making sure your products are present in your consumer's lives—is equally important.

He closed his presentation with a recommendation for marketers looking to adapt to the digital world: strive to understand your consumers' culture, be a “problem solver,” and have a “learning mindset.”

"We are far more shaped by culture than we want to believe.”

2. Stacking the innovation odds in your favor in a (mostly) fulfilled world

"It’s crucial to go deep, to be with the consumer, and understand them with empathy."

Kate veale
Kate Veale, Innovation Transformation Director, Diageo

"Innovate or face the consequences.”

The day's second presentation started with strong words from Tate & Lyle’s Global Head of Marketing and Insights, Helen Bass, who was joined on stage by Diageo’s Innovation Transformation Director, Kate Veale.

“In today's world, it’s very hard to satisfy consumers,” she continued. Very hard might be an understatement. According to Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen, 95% of the 30,000 new products launched annually fail. Such high failure rates have been the impetus for Helen and Kate to advocate for a new approach to innovation that leverages both empathy-driven consumer insights and data to create new products.

Kate explained Diageo’s unique approach to product innovation. Diageo assesses macroeconomic trends, political structures, and even insights from other industries but prioritizes empathy. “It’s crucial to go deep, to be with the consumer, and understand them with empathy," she said.

One example of Diageo’s empathy-driven approach is the non-alcoholic beverage movement. “There's an increasing number of people who are not drinking alcohol,” she explained. “We investigated and found that consumers didn’t want just water. So we thought, ‘What if Diageo could replace water with a beautiful drink?’"

According to the speakers, an empathy-driven approach is not mutually exclusive with a data-driven one. Helen shared that Tate & Lyle leverages data from various sources, including agriculture sectors, retailers, and consumers, to create new products. Still, she admitted, "there are gaps, like not knowing which products our ingredients end up in.” She said that the company utilizes Nielsen data to fill these gaps but that making assumptions to contextualize the data is also crucial. "You need to start with a hypothesis and ensure you have enough data to move to the next stage,” she said.

Kate concluded the presentation by criticizing the traditional stage gate process for innovation, stating that it no longer serves businesses well. "Stage gate provides incremental de-risking but doesn't foster breakthrough ideas,” she said.

“We need to adopt a VC mindset, thinking about portfolios with different risk levels rather than just managing projects."

3. How will AI impact marketing beyond data analysis?

"GenAI is not only a game changer; it’s levelling the field for insurgent brands."

Sinead fox
Sinead Fox, Partner, Bain & Company

AI is poised to redefine marketing as we know it.

While many focus on AI's capabilities in data analysis within marketing, a panel discussion featuring industry experts explored how AI is set to transform the creative side of marketing, albeit with several caveats.

"It's so easy to embrace and use GenAI tools like ChatGPT without verifying the information,” said Stephanie Bell, the Former VP of Marketing Procurement at Coca-Cola, cautioning against the pitfalls of misinformation. “People need to be careful because it’s still in its infancy.”

She pointed out that, when used with caution, GenAI has strong marketing use cases that go beyond improved productivity, a point that Jack Smyth, Chief Solutions Officer of AI, Planning, and Insights at Jellyfish, agreed with.

Jack explained that today’s technology should help marketers go beyond just using it to do their jobs faster; it should help them do their jobs better. "It's no longer just about efficiency; it's about effectiveness. GenAI can help in giving choices and creating permutations of audience and outcome, considering internal budgets," he explained.

Jack introduced the concept of AI as a virtual studio for testing and running scenarios, which helps teams spend more time effectively. "We have an internal tool called 'Pencil' that helps build scenarios to assess where to spend more time," he added. However, Jack also warned about the risk of convergence, where brands might start looking the same due to similar AI-generated content.

Sinead Fox, a Partner at Bain & Company, echoed Jack’s earlier point about convergence, pointing out a significant risk: "GenAI brings a lot of velocity, but the pitfall is producing the same content.”

However, she also explained that she sees great potential in the technology, calling it a “game changer.” She said it’s “levelling the playing field,” especially for insurgent brands, and “allowing marketers to focus on consumers and how to reach different generations effectively."

4. How to build a high-performance digital transformation team

"While markets are different, human beings are the same at heart. Everyone wants to be the best version of themselves."

Jooyong lee
Jooyong Lee, Head of HR EMEA & LATAM, Haleon

When Haleon, one of the largest consumer healthcare companies in the world, with famous brands like Advil and Sensodyne toothpaste, was spun off from pharmaceutical giant GSK, Haleon decided to digitally transform its supply chain to be more consumer-centric—a shift from GSK’s more patient-focused supply chain.

According to Jooyong Lee, head of HR EMEA & LATAM at Haleon, this change necessitated a human-centric approach to transformation. "People expected change in the spin-off, but think about it—we are the same people, brands, and portfolio. What needs to be acknowledged is that we are the people who need to drive the change."

Jooyong stressed the importance of empathy in the company's approach. "At Haleon, we want to be great at deep human understanding—seeing them as people, not just consumers," she explained. "While markets are different, human beings at heart are the same—everyone wants to be the best version of themselves.”

She explained that Haleon was built from scratch with people in mind and a focus on “good health and empathy for consumers.” This human-centric approach extends to its operating model, allowing markets to make faster decisions without constantly escalating to the CEO.

According to Jooyong, this focus has given the company a shared sense of purpose. "You need to work on the company's purpose to start with,” she said.

“Haleon employees live it, as our engagement survey shows."

5. Why commercial and marketing success requires a planning transformation

"The power of data—of connecting the dots—is useless if you don't sit with your customer."

Marco caldarelli
Marco Caldarelli, Partner, Bain & Company

Consumer products companies need to get more ROI from their Revenue Growth Management (RGM) initiatives.

This much was clear from the outset of Bain & Company Partner Marco Caldarelli’s presentation. “The results CPG companies are driving from their RGM initiatives are highly unsatisfactory," he declared. Marco explained that, despite significant investments in RGM technology, many companies still struggle to see tangible improvements.

"70% of the assortment delivers just 2% of sales," he noted. He also pointed out a staggering waste in promotional activities, with "20 billion euros wasted per year in promotions, and 60% of promotions not delivering incremental value."

According to Marco, market dynamics are shifting. Private labels are gaining traction among consumers, and CPG and FMCG companies must adapt quickly. "It is not about whether we need to fix this but how fast we have to fix this," he said.

He presented a multi-faceted "recipe" for transformation. A key component of his recipe is amplifying and connecting various elements of price management. "Think about connecting prices with brands, entities, and catchment areas. Am I pricing correctly in all those areas?" he urged the audience to consider. He also emphasized the importance of systematically following the correct price pack architecture to unlock additional opportunities.

Mix and assortment strategies and promotional effectiveness are other critical areas for improvement. Marco acknowledged the challenge of managing baselines to identify ROI versus uplift, but he remained optimistic about the potential for data-driven insights to enhance shopper penetration and retailer margins. He also clarified that a customer-centric approach needs to drive the process: "The power of data, connecting the dots, is all useless if you don't sit with your customer.”

Marco concluded his presentation by calling for a serious commitment to building RGM capabilities. "Take RGM capability building seriously,” he said. In his mind, true transformation requires embedding these capabilities into the organization's culture.

“It’s about the people,” he said.

6. Do joint business plans work?

"Too often, we focus on our brands rather than the needs of our customers. We need to reverse this focus."

Michel klersy
Michel Klersy, Former President, Mars and Coty Europe

Collaboration between consumer goods companies and their retail partners is more critical than ever.

Yet, the question remains: if joint business plans (JBPs) are a foundational activity of this collaboration, why have the results been so historically lop-sided, and what can be done to improve their outcomes?

According to a panel of current and former senior marketing leaders from Mars and Coty, Bain & Company, and The Coca-Cola Company, the resounding answer was: “win-win.”

"Winning together with your suppliers and customers creates immense value," began Laure Maddens, a Partner at Bain & Company. According to Jacques Van Cauwenberge, former CCO of Europe at The Coca-Cola Company, creating this immense shared value comes down to creating ‘win-win’ scenarios. 

"Thinking customer back is crucial," said Jacques. “This means truly understanding the customer's priorities, strategy, and challenges.” He shared that CPG companies often prioritize their plans over their customers’ plans, a practice that needs to shift towards a more customer-centric approach.

Former Mars and Coty President Europe Michel Klersy agreed. "Knowing the customer’s P&L and buying strategies is fundamental, he said. “Too often, we focus on our brands rather than the needs of our customers. We need to reverse this focus.” He also pointed out the cultural challenges within organizations, noting that JBPs should not solely be the sales team's responsibility but should involve a multi-functional approach, including logistics and finance.

If creating ‘win-win’ scenarios is the key to successful JBPs, why aren’t more CPG companies making them? Michel responded, "The problem lies in the fact that most CEOs come from marketing backgrounds and may undervalue the importance of sales-driven JBPs."

Jacques elaborated on the need for a category-first mindset, explaining that starting from the category level, moving to the market, and tailoring plans to individual customers can lead to better outcomes. "This approach requires a significant cultural shift, but it’s necessary for capturing the right opportunities with our customers," he said.

The conversation also explored the execution and measurement side of JBPs. "Executing for success in-store and having the technology to track and measure benefits is vital," noted Jacques. He emphasized the importance of course-correcting plans based on real-time data to ensure they remain effective.

A recurrent theme was the necessity of value creation and consistency. "Consistency in approach is crucial because relationships can be destroyed overnight," warned Michel. He and Jacques agreed that building trust through transparency and consistent efforts is the bedrock of successful JBPs.

In response to a question about the future evolution of customer-supplier relationships, Jacques predicted an increased focus on value-creation plans and leveraging data analytics. "We need to speak the same language with our retailers, focusing on how we can create mutual value,” he stated.

“This will become even more important as shopper behavior evolves rapidly.”

7. Commercial Digital Transformations: Why Are They So Hard and What Are the Keys to Success?

"You cannot assume that a global template will fit; you need local teams to ensure it is adopted and effective."

Kelly elis
Kelly Ellis, Head of Customer & Consumer Tech, Haleon

Commercial digital transformations promise significant returns, yet they frequently fall short of expectations.

The penultimate session of the day, featuring former and current senior IT leaders from Haleon, Nestlé, Reckitt, and Bain, sought to answer why and what companies can do about it.

"Four out of five digital transformations do not deliver," began Rajesh Narayan, the session moderator and Partner at Bain & Company, setting the tone for the discussion.

To Drive Change Globally, Think Locally

According to Kelly Ellis, Head of Customer & Consumer Tech at Haleon, one contributing factor to the failure rate is trying to drive lasting change at the local level across a complex network of global operations. "Diversity across the globe of how commercial teams operate, complexity, negotiations with tech partners, and moving the goal post for implementation make the transformation challenging," said Kelly.

"You cannot assume that a global template will fit; you need local teams to ensure it is adopted and effective."

Choose the Right Commercial Technology

However, according to Terence Stacey, CEO and Founder at Tetsudai CIO LDA and former CIO at Nestlé, commercial technology also shares some blame for the failure rate. "Most of the current commercial solutions and applications are not up for the job," he remarked. “Up for the job,” in Terence's view, means technology having advanced data management and AI capabilities to drive real-time value creation, particularly in revenue growth management (RGM). 

"You can create value in real-time, which is good for CPG and customers using AI if you manage to get data, clean it, and use it to power AI on RGM," he said.

Instead of ‘Big Bang,’ Think ‘Building Block’ Transformation

One key takeaway was the need for a modular approach to implementing new commercial technologies. This approach can help organizations, particularly smaller ones without legacy systems, to stay ahead in the digital transformation game.

"Modularization and boiling capabilities into use cases rather than pulling down the whole process are essential," Kelly suggested.

8. Discover the Future with Tom Savigar: The Rise of Next-Generation Brands

"We must rebuild our mindset to not only avoid harm but also help others in the value chain."

Tom savigar
Tom Savigar, Founder, Avansere Norway

Global enterprises’ ESG commitments focus on doing less harm, such as reducing carbon emissions or waste.

But Tom Savigar, founder of Avansere Norway, believes companies need to do more good.

For the last session of the day, Tom presented a compelling case for brands to become “next-generation brands.” He explained that such companies become “regenerative” by using their “position, potency, and potential to leave society and the environment in a better state.” These brands are “committed to doing no harm” and, more importantly, “to doing good.”

According to Tom, becoming a next-generation brand is not an overnight process. It requires an adaptive mindset. “We must rebuild our mindset to not only avoid harm but also help others in the value chain,” he explained.

He cited the collaboration between Allbirds and Adidas, where retailers are encouraged to collect waste that consumers generate, creating a circular system. “Companies need a culture of improvement and adaptability,” he said, highlighting how Lego found that the footprint of recycled plastics was higher than expected and chose to explore alternative methods and take risks.

Another major theme was the use of technology to drive positive change. Tom described “system regenerators” as those who leverage technology and artificial intelligence to eliminate manual tasks, allowing for more strategic focus.

He concluded his presentation by identifying three fundamental movements driving this transformation:

  • Movement for Balance: Focused on emissions and gases, creating a stringent social culture across industries such as food, textiles, and mining.
  • Movement for Positivity: Elevating human interaction with machines to address loneliness and enhance creativity.
  • Movement for Circularity: Empowering consumers through education about plastics, recycling, and sustainability.

Can any company become regenerative? According to Tom, yes. But not all companies are ready. It’s one thing to commit to not doing harm. It’s another to commit to doing good.

“Companies need to be ready to be regenerative,” he said.

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About the author

James Griffiths Head of Presales, RGM

James Griffiths

Head of Presales, RGM

James is focused on helping companies’ hone their commercial and strategic capabilities, supporting and leading in the field of Revenue Growth Management across industries, aiding clients drive commercial transformations to deliver profitable & sustainable growth. He focuses on driving fact-based conversation whether that being internally through IBP or within the negotiation with a current focus on developing sustainability through the levers.

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