Shopper Marketing - June 2017 - 8
Same Silo, Different Day
here's a moment in "Duck Soup" when
Groucho Marx says, "Why, a 4-year-old
child could understand this. ... Run out and
find me a 4-year-old child. I can't make head
or tail out of it."
I know I'm severely dating myself by referencing a movie from 1933. (I'm not that old, actually, but my father controlled our lone family
TV set - for which I'm now grateful, by the way.)
One of the less troubling, yet still bothersome,
aspects of getting old is that you have to sit by
and watch classic cultural moments fade into
obscurity. Few remember Groucho anymore,
but we all know Grumpy Cat.
One aspect of the marketing industry I'd be
more than happy to watch become obscure
is the apparently indomitable budget silos
separating various pieces of the business.
I've been writing about them for almost 20
years now. Brand management vs. consumer
promotion, consumer vs. trade promotion,
digital vs. traditional media, shopper marketing vs. everything else. In my new role at
Consumer Goods Technology, breaking down
the walls between IT and marketing - and
sales, and most other functions - is a similarly
But despite near-universal agreement that
silo busting should happen, it just never does.
Established, institutionalized habits are incredibly hard to break.
If you think about it, Groucho's fading
y SHOPPER MARKETING JUNE 2017
punch line is echoed regularly these days
whenever parents happily acknowledge that
they often must consult with their children to
figure out how to better use laptops, tablets
and smartphones. These kids grew up with
that technology, parents marvel. It's second
nature to them.
I was thinking about this fact in March
while attending ShopTalk, a second-year conference in Las Vegas that showcased an array
of new product manufacturers and retailers
on its numerous stages. These companies
don't talk about silos or internal alignment.
And they might look at you in wonderment if
you mention the need for consumer product
manufacturers to embrace e-commerce and
direct-to-consumer sales, to improve digital
marketing capabilities, or to use consumer
data to drive future growth. These "kids" grew
up with that technology, you see. It's second
nature to them. In most cases, in fact, they
wouldn't exist without it.
Take Stitch Fix, a 6-year-old apparel "retailer." Consumers provide their size, style and
price preferences and pay a simple $20 styling
fee (that's credited toward a purchase). The
company then employs a mix of proprietary
algorithms (devised by 75 on-staff data scientists) and "expert human stylists" (mostly parttimers) to create unique apparel items that
are shipped free to customers, who buy what
they want and send back the rest (also free of