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Poach, Don’t Hire Talent for Your Consumer Startup

It's a truism in professional hiring that you always want to seek out talent that is already employed first. This may seem silly because it gives leverage to the employee, not to the company hiring, but that completely misses the point. The issue you face

From where does your brand source volume?

Innovative new CPG brands have a curious habit of sourcing lots of volume from outside their respective categories. This is NOT true of most line extensions, which are engaged in a limiting market share battle within their core merchandising category. One way they do this

“That’ll never work!” is not how a real consultant talks

Kara Goldin loves to recount her tale of being laughed at and mocked by ex-Pepsi executives when she discussed selling non-carbonated flavored water. "That'll never work. No one will ever make it for you. Not scalable." These were the knee-jerk operational objections she heard from

Loyalty marketing through the pandemic

Exclusive brand loyalty is the privilege of legacy brands who had years with minimal competition to build an advantage in culture and your mind. Today, though, new CPG brands can expect a few years of sustained intermittent usage before the consumer moves on. This is

Saying No is a Foundation Skill for Founders

You might think saying 'no' is simply the luxury of an established business who has the privilege to turn down an opportunity that isn't dead-on perfect.   But you'd be wrong. Dead wrong.   Saying 'no' is one of the fundamental business skills never taught in any school, let alone in business school. Hah!   It can only really

Walmart Shoppers Don’t Care Much About Premium Goods

It continues to amaze me how many premium CPG startups get sucked into the PR machine of Bentonville, Arkansas. 4,800 stores sound like a ton of volume. Except for the fact that the majority o shoppers who buy their groceries there just don't care about

Using a Retail Account as a Word-of-Mouth Marketing Trigger

In the early years of growing a consumer brand, just getting to $1M in trailing annual sales is a near-death experience for the vast majority of founders. Unicorn velocities bless very few CPG startups. The temptation early on to add together any retail account that

Why You Need a Strategic Review, Not a Re-Brand – Part 1

When early-stage businesses struggle in the premium end of consumer-packaged-goods, a shocking number of founders and operators leap to the conclusion that they need a "brand refresh" or a "re-brand." Look, branding agencies are numerous, and they network heavily at Expo West. They sponsor events

Know Your Strategy Before You Hire an Agency

Agencies are tacticians. They focus on a portion of 1-2 Ps. They have no business claiming to write your business strategy, more specifically, your competitive strategy. Often, they will discuss this as "positioning." Watch out. You have more data than they do on your consumers,

The Bigger Lesson from the Can Shortage

Unfortunately, the unprecedented shortage of aluminum cans contains a figurative lesson for ambitious young beverage entrepreneurs. The lesson is NOT that you should have picked Tetra-Pak. Instead, this is really an extreme distortion of an aluminum can shortage that already existed for the past few