PepsiCo seeks new model

07 November 2011

NEW YORK: PepsiCo, the food and beverage giant, is seeking to adapt its approach to innovation and marketing, reflecting a new "era of uncertainty" following on from the financial crisis.

Speaking at a recent conference, Indra Nooyi, the firm's chief executive, suggested the recession had resulted in a profound shift which necessitates a response on the part of all major corporations.

"Consumer demand changes in a heartbeat. Trust in established brands and institutions has diminished," she said. "From the top to the bottom of the company, we have to accept that we are in a new era of uncertainty."

However, Nooyi argued opportunities remain, as the worldwide economy expands from $62tr today to $300tr by 2030, aided by the development of nations like India and China and a growing middle class.

"You have to localise to win consumers in individual markets. That's the way forward for food and beverage companies such as ours," said Nooyi.

"The Western model of having a standardised template that generates volumes of business is not going to work, especially in emerging markets, where the markets are smaller and consumers are value and price conscious."

As part of this process, businesses must adopt a disruptive approach from within rather than waiting for rivals or the external climate to enforce such moves upon them, Nooyi added.

"It's about rethinking and reframing your whole product offering, your complete service. It's about encouraging borderless innovation, where the clever practices of low cost countries are brought to places where costs are higher," she said.

A similar "creative adaptability" will also be essential regarding advertising and marketing, covering everything from embracing digital media to fostering alternative agency models.

"Creative thinkers need to be liberated," Nooyi said. "In an uncertain world, brands provide continuity and stability. But do the old methods of connecting them to consumers still work?

"The future has never been made by predictors or sceptics. It has always been made by dreamers and doers and innovators who embrace uncertainty, those who seize the day to shape the future and show us the way forward."

Equally, balancing the concerns of shareholders with those of shoppers, and of the planet, has become vital. PepsiCo's "Performance with Purpose" mantra attempts to sum such ambitions up.

"The companies that thrive in the new era will be those which define a compelling vision of the role they play in society," said Nooyi. "People want corporations and brands to stand for something."

Data sourced from NDTV; additional content by Warc staff