Some of the giants of the marketing world have been the first to look beyond the current system to create new vehicles for integrated marketing supply chains. Strong retailers are a good example. They are the new arrivals on the branding front lines, with much less vested in the traditional marketing system. They have found it natural to do much of their marketing themselves. Tesco bypasses large chunks of the conventional marketing system in the U.K. and has integrated its market research and analytics capability, which was formerly conducted by an independent firm. Other retailers are reinventing media at the point of sale. Wal-Mart, for example, has made a major commitment to in-store TV, creating a new medium powerfully connected to the consumer shopping experience and to the purchaser’s moment of decision.
In traditional marketing teams, the action-oriented, authority-driven mind-set rules. Indeed, too often it squeezes out the more innovative dispositions and the exploration and experimentation they bring. But the strategic agenda for marketers has changed. Creative and commercial business-system perspectives must play a greater role in team composition, so that companies can look up and down the value chain to imagine and experiment with new ways of operating. As marketing teams gain diversity and balance, team management in turn becomes more integral to marketing effectiveness. It is thus crucial to have active and deliberate leadership capacity on the marketing team.
It is tempting to think that only outsiders, in the form of small, entrepreneurial upstart companies, can effectively tear down the international marketing system. Yet the big consumer goods companies are uniquely positioned to reinvent the marketing model for the 21st century. Indeed, they and the large retailers are the only companies positioned to do so. Only they can take responsibility for the system as a whole — and use their spending to reshape it. Their money and leverage influence the whole system.
These corporations also have the most direct and compelling need for the system to perform. Unlike the specialized suppliers, they don’t have to answer to any one client. This means they are less constrained than other members of the system and are free to reassemble the pieces in new and interesting ways. And some of the best are leaders in using their freedom and power. The broader agenda being pursued by such companies as Procter & Gamble, Capital One, Tesco, and Coca-Cola is symptomatic of the change that will affect marketers across industry and geography. The winners will be driven by their vigor and determination in reshaping the marketing team. That’s the place for companies to start. New times call for new capabilities, and for team structures that can win in an era of technology, uncertainty, and change.
Reprint No. 06205
Richard Rawlinson (email@example.com) is a vice president with Booz Allen Hamilton in London. He focuses on the leadership agenda for consumer products, telecommunications, and public-sector clients.