The title of this paper is similar to that of a training session that I attend while working with a major tobacco FMCG company 6 years ago. the session was leaded by Julian Honey, a famous trainer at MTP plc a world known provider of tailored learning solutions for high calibre managers in major global companies in business Partnering and other business and finance areas.
That been said, the purpose of this article does not intend to rewrite or plagiarise the content of the above training but instead to share my personal perspective on this critical topic, after many years working as a Finance Business Partner, driving and supporting strategies across various industries.
The following are the 4 most critical requirements to validate in order to make sure that your portfolio not only serve the purpose of your strategy but will also help the management achieve a sustainable and aggressive growth in order to meet and exceed shareholders expectations.
- Align the portfolio with market dynamics
The fundamental requirement that will make your portfolio works for your strategy is to ensure that it is aligned with the market dynamics. Aligning the brand portfolio with the market dynamics is not a static process, it is a permanent work-in-progress exercise entailing a frequent review, refreshment and re-branding in order to match the ever-changing customers needs and tastes but also to always be ahead of competitions actions and initiatives.
The Finance business Partner should make sure that the drivers of the brand investments meet this requirement.
- Making sure that the brand fit the purpose
A brand charter is not only a set of slogans and fancy/sexy statements, it must articulate appropriately the positioning and the target of the brand, setting the path to the product features and the marketing mix (product, price, place, promotion, publicity).
The Finance Business partner should monitor the profitability of individual brand and relate that to their strategic role in the portfolio. Although a market share fighter brand is not expected to deliver the same margin as a value seeker, he must deliver the purpose or simply be delisted or repositioned.
- Assign a role to each brand
The process of assigning a role to a brand must be broken down by channels, segments, sub-markets, targets and even niches, competitors or competitive brands. Some of the role that can be assigned to a brand include among other:
- Market-fighter : Increase market share through massive volume growth
- Profitability-seeker: Deliver high bottom line through optimal pricing,
- Industry differentiator: Provide competitive advantage through innovation or uniqueness,
- Price fighter: Drive aggressive pricing or cover specific price point in the portfolio in line with currency and market sensitivity.
Although the Finance Business Partner might not have the competency and the authority to assign roles to brands in the portfolio, he must always make sure that the initiatives and allocation of resources follows a well structured sense of purpose similar to that.
- Maintain a rigorous framework to evaluate brand investment
The strength of a brand is a qualitative features that need to be built and reinforced through appropriate initiatives (revamping, refreshing, rejuvenating…) and investments. Though qualitative objectives can be difficult to quantify, the long-term goals of the brand plan must be aligned with the overall corporate strategy.
As a finance Business partner our role is to support the resource allocation process by making sure that there is a perfect goal congruence between brand and corporate objectives.
- Love your brands
For real and I am not kidding you!!!
Tobacco , clothing and apparel companies have known this for a while and that is why they can sell the same product with different brands at astonishing different prices.
MOPHU Joel MBA, CMA
Passionate Finance Business Partner