Becoming Fit for Change in the Future of Marketing

August 13, 2017


Consumers have control—they no longer wait for information to come to them. They search for products, prices, information and reviews on their own time; from their desks, couches, cars and store aisles.

Along with anywhere, anytime browsing and buying, consumer tastes can change overnight. A clever tweet or sun-lit post from the right person on a social media platform can make anything from a flannel shirt to a surf board an instant hot item—automatically in demand.

The make-or-break proposition for every retail company is the ability to respond to the demands of individual consumer experiences and compressed market cycles. But not every company is prepared for this new dynamic. Companies saddled with outdated marketing systems and channel-centric workflows can’t keep up with today’s information-driven consumer.


In the past, retailers adjusted channel spend or threw more personnel at a problem to compensate for changing priorities and shifts in the marketplace. To stay competitive, companies need to be responsive, proactive and prepared to respond to consumers across multiple channels. The break-fix approach of the past will not solve the problems caused by massive change in the retail universe now and in the future.

The future does not fit in the mindsets or containers of the past

The call-to-action and need for rapid change is clear for retailers stuck in the channel-centric methods of the past. As Rishad Tobaccowala, Strategy and Growth Officer at Publicis Groupe puts it, “The future does not fit in the mindsets or containers of the past.” And Tom O’Toole, CMO of United Airlines, shares the sentiment: “The conventional marketing organization is an artifact of a prior era.” Success for retail marketers is about changing mindsets and restructuring historical methods and approaches—quickly.


The World Economic Forum analyzed the scope of change in retail and published the report “Shaping the Future of Retail for Consumer Industries,” which states: “The evolution in consumer demand, combined with transformative technological innovations, will continue to drive fundamental changes. The boundaries of “retailer” and “manufacturer” will continue to blur as companies evolve to meet their customers’ needs. These forces will cause the retail and consumer packaged goods (CPG) landscape to change more in the next 10 years than it has in the past 40 years.”

The forum predicts that retail stores will perform a completely different role than they have in the past. The retail experience will shift to encounters that are more inspirational than conventional. That does not mean retail stores will disappear, nor will digital methods drive all sales. Quite the opposite. The forum also predicts the physical store will continue to be the channel that contributes the most revenue for most large multichannel retailers until at least 2026. However, its value proposition will evolve from being a distribution channel to that of a platform for discovery, engagement, experience and interaction.


Before retailers can become ‘fit for change’ they must shift the way they approach marketing and subsequently, content production from a siloed channel-centric strategy to a content-first strategy. Once they make this shift in approach, marketers can focus on optimizing their content production process.

No organization can become fit for change without understanding its current state. To determine the status of current systems, retailers need to analyze internal processes—such as marketing strategies, workflow, infrastructure and organizational design. This provides a clear picture of the elements that either contribute to success or lead to failure.


A process discovery—taking an in-depth look at every step in a marketing system—is one of the most responsive and effective ways to bridge the gap between a retailer’s past and future.

A thorough process discovery can:

  • Expose what really exists
  • Find out where processes are clogged or broken
  • Document “current state” diagrams of functions through process maps
  • Reveal how much it will cost to fix
  • Show the short and long-term rewards
  • Help determine how to measure success

Once all these things are laid out, it is up to decisions makers to become leaders of change. Process discovery typically reveals incredible opportunities for change. The discovery produces a foundational vision on how an organization can become more responsive and agile in key areas such as content creation, multichannel marketing and effective consumer engagement.


Process discovery leads to process optimization, a plan of recommendations that deliver a high rate of return in cost savings, production efficiencies and outcomes. Here are actual results of optimizing the content production processes and systems of a retail tractor company:

Production Efficiencies for a catalog

Production Outcomes

Cycle time reduced by 6-8 weeks

Process optimization is an important step in becoming ‘fit for change’ and able to meet consumers wherever they interact with a company’s brand, products or services.

This change leads to agility

For many retail organizations, it has become all too painfully evident that, “The conventional marketing organization is an artifact of a prior era.” Channel-centric marketing is no longer as effective as it once was. An evolving and complex retail environment where consumers rule the buy is the order of the day. Process optimization helps companies become agile through restructuring as flexible, responsive organizations prepared to meet the future of consumer retail marketing, wherever it may go.