Values Applied from Walmart – “Keep New, New”
Over the years, I have known many Walmart principles or phrases that they use to manage their business. Call me old school, but one of my favorites is the “sundown rule” – never let the sun set without responding to requests. This simple lesson practiced in life is a game changer. Another one of my favorites is the 10-foot-rule, originally developed to serve customers in a store, but it is so applicable in life. If you come within 10 feet of someone, look them in the eye and greet them. Great rules of retail, but even better life lessons.
There is another phrase that I have not heard used in a while, and it was ingrained in my mind as a young supplier serving Walmart, “Keep new, new.” This one may have been related to a strategy, but it has stuck with me. It is a very simple swing thought that I keep top of mind.
A Lesson from Former Walmart CEO, David Glass
Ever have those moments after a conversation when you tell yourself, “That was stupid. Why did I say that?” Well, it happened to me with the CEO at Walmart.
Back in the day, after we launched a major brand, I was working on a Sam’s Club program the second year after the launch. At the Sam’s Year Beginning Meeting, I noticed David Glass, former CEO of Walmart, walking the show without anyone recognizing him. Enamored with the former CEO, I invited him over to our booth, and, after saying some nice things about the displays, he asked how POS was going. Being year two, I mumbled something and said we were up against tough comps versus the launch year. Remember the scene on SNL when Chris Farley would hit his head and say, “Stupid!”? That was me. Mr. Glass took it easy on me, as he chuckled and said that he knew all about tough comps. Thanks for the lesson that I have never forgotten, Mr. Glass. Keep new, new.
What Exactly Does “Keep New, New” Mean?
I often apply it in a few different ways when working with brands.
Adjust Tactics Accordingly – First, there is a need to adjust tactics year-to-year to continue to drive a business. As we know, the definition of insanity is to continue to do the same thing over and over expecting different results or, my addition, expecting greater sales than last year. So, if I ran a certain play that drove POS this year, I need to call a different play the next year. It could be pricing, a different off-shelf play, a different way to reach my consumer digitally, many options exist. Don’t rest on the previous year’s success.
Thinking Past Year One – Second, the launch of a brand or even a new innovation within an existing brand is not the finish line but the starting line. “Keep new, new” means to think strategically about how you will grow the brand or innovation year two, year three, and beyond. How will you keep the brand fresh? Get out ahead of the brand paving the way for future growth.
Over 20,000 CPG companies exist today. Approximately 90% of all CPG companies are less than $25mm in national sales. I wonder if part of the issue is the inability to “keep new, new.”
Managing the launch of a brand or innovation with excellence is, of course, critical to success. Having the right inventory at the right locations, safety stock, off-shelf programs, and insight-driven pricing are all keys to success. But what do you do after the momentum of being new to market begins to wear off?
Retaining Momentum During Complex Growth – The tendency is to become myopically focused on the launch. More displays, more stores, broader distribution, more digital marketing, whatever can goose sales. But, when the dust settles, the brand or innovation is staring year two in the face. Tough comps, POS hurdle rates, shelf efficiency expectations, and more competition.
And, at this point, the complexity doom loop begins to creep in. Growth creates complexity, and complexity stifles growth. The business becomes more complex, and growth becomes stagnant.
“Keep new, new” applies to all brands of all sizes. The mindset is not just for companies in the launch phase. The more established companies have figured out how to “keep new, new” year after year, the key to sustainable growth.
Work With an Agency That Understands Complex Growth & Excels During It
At Harvest Group, we segment companies into different life stages. Each stage has obstacles to overcome to continue the upward trend of growth, making it to the next stage. We have developed four proven, key enablers that, when put into action, help our clients achieve sustainable growth.
Thanks, Walmart for your lessons, principles, and phrases over the years. “Keep new, new” always keeps me planning strategically.
By the way, I have to believe this is what happened to Chumbawamba. Don’t know who they are? Exactly my point. They had never worked with Walmart. Great song but no year 2 😊
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