2014 Franchise Consumer Marketing Conference: A Look Back, Part 2
Last issue we reviewed the first two days of the 2014 Franchise Consumer Marketing Conference, held this past June in Atlanta. This issue covers Thursday and Friday.
Disruption and the economy
Wednesday began with breakfast in the Networking Gallery, followed by the day's keynote speaker, Luke Williams, who delivered a wide-ranging discussion on the importance of innovation in business success. Williams, professor of innovation at NYU's Stern School of Business, is the author of the best-selling book Disrupt. "If you're interested in growth, you must be interested in innovation," he said. "Ideas are the recipes for increasing returns."
His overall message was not to become complacent with success. "The pace of disruptive change is accelerating in every industry," he cautioned. Staying on top of it, he said, means seeing the world differently every day. "Disruptive thinking," he said, "can change the way you think about your business - and your competition."
Frandata President Darrell Johnson followed with his annual State of the Industry report. Building on Williams's theme, he asked, "Will the economy offer franchising a disruptive opportunity in the next few years? I think yes." The economy, he said is in modest slow-growth mode with GDP expected to remain below 3 percent for the next 3 years. Some modest good news: consumer confidence is "reluctantly rising," consumer spending is trending upward, and housing is coming back slowly (however, the 19 percent of homes remaining underwater still need to clear the system). He said the credit box has eased somewhat, but "nowhere near has compensated" for the tightening of 2007-2009.
Implications for franchising include the following:
- more pressure on market share in a slow-growth economy;
- growth increasingly from M&A, with large franchisees getting larger;
- Baby Boomer retirement accelerating, ushering in the Millennials and increased spending on technology; and
- profitability emphasizing cost efficiencies. At the brand level, he said, brand distinctions will assume greater marketing importance.
Two more rounds of concurrent breakout sessions completed the morning, including: Ad Fund Contribution and Management, Strategy and Plan Development, Print and Direct Mail, Ensuring Quality Customer Experience Across Disciplines, Growing into Media Efficiency, and Building Brand Infrastructure To Support Your Customers (Consumers and Franchisees).
Cause marketing: "RO-why"
Following a final opportunity to meet and greet in the Sponsor Networking Gallery over lunch, attendees convened for a final general session called Cause Marketing: Brands that Give and Get Back. Molly Maid President Meg Roberts facilitated a discussion featuring Hungry Howie's Vice President of Marketing Jeff Rinke, Jersey Mike's CMO Rich Hope, and Massage Envy's CMO Susan Boresow. Each told the story of how their brands became involved in causes and communities across the country.
"The cause must predominate," said Roberts, "not the mutually beneficial profit. Awareness of the brand is a by-product." Or as Hope put it, "You don't give to get, you give to give." Their inspiring stories and videos showcasing some of the people they've helped provided ample - and emotional - fodder for the marketing executives to take home to their management teams.
Four additional breakout sessions followed on how to improve cooperation between the marketing and sales teams; execution and measuring results; broadcast and outdoor advertising; and crisis communications. The conference concluded with an entertaining, participatory "mindshare" session on the new marketing currency (Change!). Led by Jayson Pearl, chief brand officer at BrightStar Care, attendees gathered into teams and competed to come up with the best solutions to a common challenge and then present them to the group and a panel of judges.
A closing dinner at nearby Maggiano's Little Italy brought the proceedings to a celebratory close as attendees relaxed over a family-style Italian dinner, getting in their final visits with friends old and new, and saying their good-byes until next year.
FCMC by the Numbers
Franchisors by Category
23 Retail Non-Food
13 Retail Food
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