by Ana Ferreira
The new social and economic environment created by Covid-19 is accelerating dramatic changes on what and how consumers buy. The habits of a generation have changed in a matter of weeks. This is a pivotal moment for companies. A time to think smartly and creatively about you develop, market and deliver your products. Stores will likely never be the same again. Entirely new ways to taste, sample and buy drinks are emerging.
History has shown us that many disruptive, innovative products emerged or outperformed during tough times. There are also early signs that the pandemic has not diminished the need to innovate and renovate in the global beverage industry, foreshadowing exciting times ahead for product development. And we are beginning to see reassuring elements. Throughout the crisis, people have made it clear that wine is essential to our lives, families and cultures.
Success in a crisis demands a forward leaning mindset. Companies must be inventive and rigorous, deploying innovation in management, cost controls, production, distribution. At the same time, you have to be creative and flexible—willing to constantly adapt, learn, grow, and innovate.
Now is the time to prepare your brands for the future
There has never been a more important time for companies to adopt digital transformation to help them gain superior collaboration, visibility and control of their product development processes. More than ever, companies need to ensure they make room for higher impact work and strategic innovation and stay ahead of the game in a fast-shifting global marketplace.
Growing brand portfolios, new vintages, genuine innovations, customizations or simply pack refresh, all compete for our attention and wallet. Yet, these product introductions depend on the ability to transform them into marketable offers. These relentless introductions, inventions (and terminations) are challenging the way companies work and require accurate product management.
Read here some of our learning and tips gathered when helping wine companies to step up their product management system.
Complacency is a ticking bomb
Resistance to change is real and understandable. But when the pace of product changes and the number of SKUs increase year after year, the informality that might work before isn’t practical anymore and thus, revisiting an existing development process can make all the difference in company’s efficiency and quality. The signs that point to this need take the forms of errors in product definition and non-conformities, rising stocks of (obsolete) dry goods, uncontrolled validations and supervision, strained teams or difficulties to keep everybody on the same page.
This complacency to an existing situation can take severe proportion when product recalls happen – think of the cost to produce, to repatriate, destroy / transform, but also the reputation lost with the distributor or client. And so rather than waiting a crisis to happen, perhaps anticipating improvements is the best ways forward.
Show me the size of the Prize
Granted, the situation described before is a bit extreme. Even if many wine companies are aware of the urgency to step change their product development process, they need a bit more than fear of failure.
Indeed, we found out that sharing best practices and showing how much could be gained in time saving, additional sales and product costs savings, can also be a strong driver to adopt change. The reasons to reject improvements are many, but if you show the positive side of the coin such as easier day-to-day work, this can help get everybody onboard.
Technology helps collaboration
When companies had no choice but to move to remote environments, how to share information globally in a reliable way suddenly became the priority. We’ve seen companies shifting to new remote digital business models, and how IT infrastructures are being modified for the demands of remote work and the critical need to grant secure access to information.
Adopting a collaborative, process integrated technology makes product development easier and faster for wine companies, empowering teams to work together and drastically reducing time with data and project management.
Think of your product development and how many people have to be involved and on the same page: sales planning, stock, dry goods, liquid management, production, marketing, design, legal… how do they exchange data today and assure is accurate and updated? How do you know where your projects are now, what has been done and what is needed?
Apart from facilitating a process, a collaborative platform helps reduce resistance to change, as product management is no longer a silo effort. Technology and digitalization free energies to re-think your business, innovate your products and brings information transparency to your organization.
Let automatization work for you
Managing a complex process without an integrated and centralized approach can result in individuals creating their own manual way of working such as collecting data through emails, updating complex spreadsheets and relying on some tailor-made developments… This creates hard to quit working habits and incredibly complex processes to pass onto new colleagues. This is also a source of “instantly redundant information” as project metrics often change by the day or the hour!
On the other hand, integrating and streamlining processes, such as by clarifying team tasks and responsibilities, gathering and centralizing data into one single platform, allows to drastically simplify the process and automatically transform data into information for timely and informed decisions. This automatization can fetch data on your existing databases, without changing information architectures.
It’s not enough to cut costs and hope to wait out the crisis. Companies that are able to turn this period into a rare opportunity to expand their brand vision, to build stronger foundations and react faster and smarter to an uncertain landscape will thrive in the future. That’s the heart of successful entrepreneurship: knowing where you want to go but staying open to different ways of getting there.