As CPG brand builders, when we enter a new year, it should be with the application of the lessons we learned in the past year. By applying those lessons, we can have the advantage in the marketplace and be the leaders in our categories.

Underdog Advantage

We have actually built a blockbuster international brand and have worked for the largest company in our category to show them how we did it. In the process, we learned a lot about how big corporations think. We learned that the primary difference between the startup entrepreneur mentality and the corporate mentality is that the startups don’t take sales for granted, and the Big Boys are resistant to change and extremely risk adverse.

Acquisitions

What does all this mean? Good news for the little guys! They can turn on a dime, recognize a new opportunities, and focus on sales. They may not have the muscle and distribution, but they can certainly prove the markets and become acquisition targets. In fact, one of the lessons we learned from last year was that there were more acquisitions.

Megatrends

Another thing we learned was that the Big Boys seem to be so resistant to change that they are ignoring some of the major megatrends that have been developing and have become undeniable over the past year. Most notably the trends toward alternative packaging, sustainable production, and health. More good news for the little guys! While the Big Boys give lip service and “green washing” to these movements, the little guys have the opportunity to address this underserved market with more sincere and authentic  products – and they can make these upgrades quickly!

Proof

Last year it became clear that consumers, when they have a choice, will chose products with sustainability claims. Nielsen Scan Data is now proving that this is not a kick, fad, or flash in the pan. Hint; don’t even think about creating new products going forward that are not sustainably made, healthy, with earth-friendly packaging.

Demand

It’s hard to ignore Greta Thunberg, the spokesperson for the new generation of consumers. She goes to great lengths to demonstrate, through her own purchasing habits, not only that it is possible to spend your money in ways that don’t contribute to the climate crisis, but that there is a great unaddressed demand for new products and services that comply to this “new green way of purchasing.” Talk about being on the right side of history! How about being in front of the market? Why be an also-ran when you can be a leader?

Monop-folly

Another big lesson we learned last year is the obsolescence of monopolistic utility networks. They have simply outlived their usefulness. Rate payers and taxpayers will be paying for the effects of their short-term greed over the long term. This has created a huge demand to cut the cord and develop micro-grids. Consumers want to buy onsite power production and storage. Will you be one of the pioneers in home power generation, storage, and conservation products?

Survival

We hate to say it but another mega trend we saw gaining steam last year was the increase in natural disasters. Will you be the manufacturer of survival, fire suppression, or flood control products? These categories are taking off! The market needs widely distributed, off-the-shelf products that take advantage of the latest technology to help us survive this climate crisis.

Conclusion

This blog is dedicated to folks with good ideas who want to put them on the market. As we travel and speak at schools that teach entrepreneurship, one of the most common questions we get is, “What business should I go into?” How about one that has a huge and increasing demand, one that is underserved, one that the new consumers are looking for, one that the Big Boys can’t move fast enough to capture, but one that they want to bolt on once you prove the market?

We wish you all a very prosperous new year and can’t wait to discover and write about your solutions to the obvious challenges that face us all! Please stay in touch with us, and tell us how you are responding to the needs that you see all around you!

Who We Are

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey Barefoot Wine Founders

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey co-authored the New York Times bestselling business book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand. The book has been selected as recommended reading in the CEO Library for CEO Forum, the C-Suite Book Club, and numerous university classes on business and entrepreneurship. It chronicles their humble beginnings from the laundry room of a rented Sonoma County farmhouse to the board room of E&J Gallo, who ultimately acquired their brand and engaged them as brand consultants. Barefoot is now the world’s largest wine brand.

Beginning with virtually no money and no wine industry experience, they employed innovative ideas to overcome obstacles, create new markets and forge strategic alliances. They pioneered Worthy Cause Marketing and performance-based compensation. They built an internationally bestselling brand and received their industry’s “Hot Brand” award for several consecutive years.

They offer their Guiding Principles for Success (GPS) & Shelf Smarts courses to help consumer product brand builders achieve success. Their book, The Entrepreneurial Culture: 23 Ways To Engage and Empower Your People, helps corporations maximize the value of their human resources.

Currently they travel the world leading workshops, trainings, & keynoting at business schools, corporations, conferences. They are regular media guests and contributors to international publications and professional journals. They are C-Suite Network Advisors & Contributing Editors. Visit their popular business site at www.thebarefootspirit.com.

To make inquiries for keynote speaking, trainings or consulting, please contact sales@thebarefootspirit.com.