An A to Z of Modern Marketing
A is for Agile
So you want to get agile, right?
‘FMCG’ is a brand with bit of a problem. Whilst this term enjoys decent stature, it is currently experiencing a significant issue with vitality, as its reputation as the home of marketing thought leadership has been challenged by powerful retailers, disruptive tech, fancy start-ups and especially in recent times, the activities of grumpy shareholders. Nor is it surprising then, that many fast moving consumer goods companies have been fighting the marketing middle age flab and getting down the gym to pump iron or jump into the saddle in search – at least if you read their corporate statements – of greater agility.
Whilst ‘agile’ sounds lithe and sexy, it actually just means doing things quickly whether these are the right thing to do or not. Nimble is an altogether more interesting concept. It certainly implies speed and action but adds a dollop of mental acuteness, a promising whiff of opportunism and just a little hint of land grab which I think makes for a superior protein shake to sustain the old establishment. This is because in reality they need strategy as much as speed, and clever gameplay as much as action.
Isaiah Berlin wrote a famous essay on the hedgehog and the fox, drawing the contrast in human thinking styles based on these two familiar and very different animals: The focussed hedgehog who knows one big thing versus the flighty fox who knows many little things. The essay concluded by pointing to the dangers of making either/or choices. I am with Berlin on this. I have always preferred the both/and option, so please give me strategic nimbleness rather than off-the-shelf agile marketing every time.
Paul Christopher Walton