How would an iSnack2.0 selection decision affect your business?

This week has seen us witness the hilarious and ongoing Kraft iSnack2.0 marketing debacle. Although no longer Australian owned, the Vegemite brand is an icon in Australia and New Zealand. Like any icon brand, it takes a brave marketer to try and change it. The only comparative episode I can think of was the global “new’ Coca Cola of few years back. This was met with such significant public uproar that Coke eventually dropped the “new” Coke and reverted back to Coke “Classic”. Arguably iSnack2.0 is a new product, it hasn’t replaced Vegemite, but the icon brand has been seriously compromised. It’s not a lethal blow, but the brand will carry some scars for some time yet. After only 4 days Kraft have now announced that the brand will change as Australians don’t like it! How many millions has this cost Kraft? A 30sec advert in the middle of the AFL Grand Final was selling for over $120,000 alone.

What has made this worse for Kraft, is the publicity leading up to the new name launch during the AFL Grand Final (one of the biggest TV viewing events in Australia each year). For months we have seen the product on our Supermarket shelves with label marked “name me”. A competition has been running to source name ideas. According to Kraft they have had over 48,000 suggestions from 35,000 different people, with 16,000 unique suggestions. So from this, the best they could come up with was iSnack2.0.

So how does something like this happen? Kraft has a large consumer marketing team, probably well paid, well qualified and experienced. In my experience when situations such as this arise, it’s usually due to one or both of the following;

1. Groupthink (according to Wikipedia) is a type of thought exhibited by group members who try to minimise conflict and reach consensus without critically testing, analysing, and evaluating ideas. This can occur most commonly if the dominant team member likes an idea and is surrounded by position-security team members (“yes men or women”). Anecdotally there has been a rise in groupthink occurrence during the GFC as team members can be more reluctant to challenge the status quo or their Manager.

2. A lack of external perspective. Creative marketers need to be constantly stimulated by the world and people around them. They need to have their finger on the pulse of their target demographics and come up with product and campaigns that will grab their demographics’ attention. If a marketer is so out of touch that they make a decision based on their gut feel and personal preference, then it is likely to be out of touch with reality and fail

No doubt Kraft had some sort of external Marketing advice. Did that external advice have the acuity, confidence and independence to challenge the selection of the iSnack2.0 brand? If so was the advice heeded, or was it ignored? We will probably never know.

Mindset’s consulting business prides itself on its ability and willingness to challenge the established ways of doing something in a client organisation. After all when a consultant is engaged, you are seeking their external perspective and ability to bring something new to the table. A good consultant will break down Groupthink and throw new ideas into the mix.

Whether it’s recruiting a new team member, establishing new leadership paradigms or aligning individual performance with corporate goals, each of these can often be better achieved by bringing in an external consultant.

Recruitment and selection is especially prone to Groupthink when handled internally. How often have I heard the common refrain “we want another Roger” (or Bill or Diane etc)? A critical analysis of the position may in fact reveal a very different type of person is now required in the role. In fact the reason good old Roger left was that the role’s critical demands had changed quite markedly over time and the role no longer suited him. Mindset’s consultative transformational recruitment approach can and will uncover these anomalies and allow you to make better selection decisions.

Contact Mindset next time you need to make a critical strategic HR decision. How costly would an iSnack2.0 selection decision be to your business? Probably many times more than the investment you would make with the Mindset Group.

Views: 73

Comment by Charles Van Heerden on October 1, 2009 at 5:19am
Hi Aaron, I won't be surprised if we see some marketing positions opening up at Kraft.

In this case I think the team was in fact trying to go too far outside of the square! Kraft would have been better off getting people to vote for their favourite name. At least they would have got it right.

Anyway, another great case study for business schools.

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