Inside This Issue - News
Deuschle has impact at GMDC
August 1st, 2011
by Greg Jacobson
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – When Mark Deuschle was named vice president of business development and chief marketing officer of the Global Market Development Center (GMDC) in February, it was a natural step for the executive.
Not only did he bring to the organization more than 20 years of experience in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) business, both with manufacturers and distributors, he had a long involvement with GMDC as a supplier member and a member of the board.
Deuschle is, naturally, heavily involved with marketing and branding activities at GMDC and was responsible for the annual General Merchandise Marketing Conference held in June. It only takes a brief conversation to realize the intensity and focus that he brings to his new role.
In addition to new ideas and dedication, Deuschle brings a varied executive experience that spans entrepreneurial startups and major CPG suppliers. That background has given him unusual insight into the GM business.
For instance, while entrepreneurial organizations and giant multinational manufacturers are typically thought of as representing opposite ends of a spectrum, Deuschle notes that the best CPG companies today are more entrepreneurial in their culture. "They turn their teams loose," he says. "Change requires adaptability and responsiveness, so successful companies today tend to gravitate toward a more entrepreneurial model."
He notes that such an approach is the product of a conscious culture in big firms. In smaller entrepreneurial enterprises processes are less constrained and more streamlined because the group of decision makers is smaller and goals and priorities tend to be more focused. "I think entrepreneurial firms by nature are fast moving and high urgency, because the stakes are high," he says. "There usually isn’t any Plan B — you either make it work or you’re in trouble."
A major focus at GMDC these days is a project to which Deuschle is closely linked — a study titled "Winning in GM: Trends, Insights and Strategies." While it will provide badly needed performance benchmarks for key GM categories, the study will go beyond the numbers to provide a blueprint for action.
Deuschle’s experience in the business has given him a good sense of what it takes for a GM supplier to succeed with the leading mass market chains. For starters, being sure there is, in fact, a demand and market for the product is simply the price of admission.
Beyond that, though, Deuschle recommends having a clear, simple story about the company, the product and how it meets the consumer need. It also helps to be able to mention a retailer or two that stock the item. "That facilitates credibility and answers the question, ‘Why would you want to do business with me?’ " Deuschle explains.
It is also important, he adds, to be a good listener. Instead of concentrating exclusively on the sales pitch, a supplier can benefit by asking and learning about the retailer’s strategy and vision.
Most important, however, is communication. Trust can be built through communication, and trust remains vital in a solid retailer-supplier relationship. "There should be no surprises," Deuschle emphasizes. "If there’s a problem, let the buyer know early; don’t wait out of fear, hoping that things will get sorted out. The buyers won’t be happy, but trust can buy some grace."
With the largest chains, the Walmarts, Walgreens and Krogers, orders are typically bigger, so there naturally is less flexibility and less tolerance of errors. Consequently, forecasting, and often mutual forecasting, assumes much greater significance. "All of the top chains have a lot of discipline, because the misses are more significant," he says. "But that makes the supplier better as well."