Five Essential Summer Reads for CPGers

The summer season has begun with Victoria Day in Canada and Memorial Day in the United States and many of us will be planning vacations away from the office at some point through the summer.

Many of us have a hard time turning off the BlackBerry while we are on “vacation” – and are scorned by family and friends because of our addiction to staying in touch with the business.

How can we be productive on vacation while not being tethered to our electronic gizmos?

I have put together this list of “Five Essential Summer Reads” that will give you lots of great business building ideas while you catch a few rays and swirl the sand between your toes.

Why We Buy – Paco Underhill

This is the seminal book on shopper behavior and many of you may have already flipped through its pages at some point in your careers. It is worth a re-read. Its content is timeless and couldn’t be more timely given today’s increased focus on Shopper Marketing as the battle for market share becomes even more focused on the retail environment. Also check out Underhill’s other publications including “The Call of the Mall”’ and “What Women Want”.

Retailization – Lincoln, Thomassen & Aconis

There is no doubt that the retailer has gained significant power in the supplier-retailer relationship in the past decade. Much of this power shift has been the result of retailers building strong brands through a focus on private label and building the image of the brand over the door through multi-format retailing, expanded service offerings and customer relationship marketing efforts. This has left national brands squeezed in the middle, with less and less space to grow. This book explores how brands can expand their space in order to grow and maximize how they use the space they already have in-store to maximize results.

Inside The Mind of the Shopper – Sorensen

Sorensen has built upon the work of Underhill and has taken a big leap forward to the technological age by tracking the eye movements of shoppers and the path they take through the store using GPS technologies. His findings challenge the SKU sprawl that we find in most stores and he emphasizes that both retailers and suppliers should focus their energy on the “big head” of top selling SKUs vs. the “long tail” of slow moving line extensions. With SKU Rationalization being a hot topic in the industry right now you need to arm yourself with the facts.

What The Customer Really Wants You to Know – Charan

Ram Charan grew up in India working in his family’s small “mom & pop” shop, one of the literally millions of these shops that dominate the retail sector in India. He went on to be a renowned author and business professor at Harvard, Kellogg and BU. He professes that everything he needed to know about business, he learned in those early days in his parent’s shop.

In this book, Charan introduces the concept of “Value Creation Selling” or VCS, which challenges sales teams to focus on how their company delivers value to their customers. This shift allows the sales team to “grow the pie” for both themselves and the customer and take discussions away from being a simple price negotiation. Good reading if your company is considering a price increase or struggling to find growth as retailer power increases.

The First 90 Days – Watkins

As we move out of the summer, many of you will find yourself moving into a new role where you will be managing a new team or be promoted to managing your very first team.

I have personally used this book to make several successful transitions and I recommend it as essential reading to any new leader. Just like a new president or prime minister, you have to demonstrate success in the first few months of your new role in order to build the momentum that will follow you through your tenure. Watkins provides an easy framework for you to build your 90-day plan and be successful as you make your transition into your new role.

All of the above titles are available through both Amazon and Indigo, as well as many other booksellers.

Happy Reading!


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