Going For Gold by Andrew Galvin

When you’re up against a true champion, going for gold is always a long shot.

Much has been written on the demise of Woolworths’ big-box hardware chain Masters – from having the wrong strategy, products, target market (pitching at women not tradies), to having the wrong locations.

But here’s something to consider (with a nod to the Olympics) – was Woolworths only thinking of gold?

In Australia, Bunnings is the undisputed ‘champion’ in hardware – it is the ‘generic’ for hardware. Think cola, think Coke. Think lightening fast, think Bolt. Being the generic for your category is the holy- grail for any brand. It’s rare that such a market leader is overtaken unless it self-implodes.

Yes, it’s all well and good having a crack at the market leader, but from a standing start, outside of its core business and at a huge cost, Woolworths should have asked itself: Can we possibly win – and if so, at what cost?

Bunnings was always going to stand up and be counted. If anything Bunnings became more focussed on strengthening its No.1 position (not distracted by its challenge as Woolworths might have hoped).

Was picking up silver ever an option? Sometimes when you’re up against a true champion, going for gold is always a long shot, so you have to be satisfied with silver – just ask Justin Gatlin.

Credit: Chicago Tribune

Differentiate Or Die by Andrew Galvin

Target is in the news for all the wrong reasons – looking at a $100M write-down of stock and an estimated $145M cost to rebuild the business. (Catie Low, SMH, June 23).

What’s of interest as a branding specialist is that at some point Target failed to follow a couple of fundamental rules of strong and enduring brands, that is, to be both different and compelling.

Target was once riding high on the wave of low cost designer labels making it the darling of budget conscious mums. That wave has gone.

So how did this happen? History tells us that Target has been successful but at some stage in the rise of stable-mate Kmart, Target began to lose its way. It became both cheap, and for some, too expensive – competing with Myer at one end and Kmart at the other.

This loss of focus led to a lack of differentiation. This in turn lead to confused customers who were no longer clear on what Target stood for. Confused people don’t buy.

If you’re not different you better be cheap. Unfortunately for Target, Kmart owns cheap and there’s plenty of competition from Myer, DJ’s, H&M and Zara at the opposite end.

The challenge for Target is to again become different and compelling.


Strategy & Execution by Andrew Galvin

Do you have a strategy that is clear, understood and is being delivered effectively?

Research in a recent Hard Business Review (HBR) reveals that a core issue of an organisations strategy is not the strategy per se – it’s the understanding and execution of it.

Just as consumers cannot be expected to buy a product or service they find confusing, your people can’t be expected to know how to best deliver the strategy if they can’t understand it and articulate simply.

HBR found that repeatedly communicating the strategy through papers, workshops and email does not result in people understanding it.

Similarly they found that executing strategy posed major hurdles – from allocation of resources, inflexible structures and processes, the impact of culture to who is actually responsible.

Simply put, without clarity on what the strategy is, how to simply articulate it and understand the actions required to deliver it, you’re chasing your tail.

Armed with a clear understanding of the what, and the how, your people can start translating strategy into results.