Lord Sugar took us back to his (Levi) roots last night, to weave his sauce-ery at St Catherine’s docks and introduce the candidates to this week’s task: to create a new condiment – manufacture it, bottle it, brand it, sell it.
Sounds simple enough. Not for this lot who managed to get themselves into a bit of a pickle.
Heading up team Phoenix was Katie, leading the boys with the help of sub-team leader Ricky and Michael. After a quick discussion, Katie showed her authority and the team settled on a mass-market table sauce. Ricky led his troops off to the factory to produce ketchup with a kick, while Katie worked on the branding and prepared to win over Partridges in a meeting set up by the nation’s favourite squillionaire.
Meanwhile over at team Sterling, Duane put himself forward as project manager for the girls, despite food manufacturer Jane being on the team. Again, a decision was reached pretty quickly with the team opting to go with a chutney… and that’s where the fun begins.
Given an hour to create a sample and get it from production to pitch, it was all steam ahead in the factory. Or was it?
Whilst Jane struggled over the numbers slowing her team up, the rest of production got a little over InFusiastic with the chilli, resulting in a gag reflex from Duane, leaving poor Nick and Jade to pitch the chutney without a product! #Fail
Passing the buck
For team Phoenix on the other hand, everything was going swimmingly. A passionate brand with a classy Italian name was born, a tasty pepper and chilli ketchup created, bottled and taken to pitch.
But there was one small problem: despite Partridges
liking the product they didn’t buy any units. Why? In her haste Katie forgot to use spell check – Belissmo probably works better when spelt correctly, i.e with two ‘L’sp.
In a reversal of luck, when it came to mass production, Sterling pulled it together to create more than 600 bottles of chutney, while Phoenix dealt with coagulation and ruined stock, dumping 100 bottles, producing one fifth less than predicted.
To cover her losses, Katie decided to push her mass-market ketchup as an upmarket sauce with a premium price to match. The result? Michael’s sub-team failed to sell over 150 bottles of stock but Sterling made twice the profit of their rivals.
So, into the boardroom. Katie brought back her sub-team leaders, Ricky and Michael. Ricky, for not managing the production and Michael, for failing to sell. The usual arguments ensued: no one taking responsibility for anything and everyone pinning the blame on everyone else.
After picking holes in everyone, Al pointed his finger and Michael was fired. I for one would have liked to have seen Ricky go instead.
Key learning – Set a strategy and stick to it
The key reason for Phoenix’s failure this week was their lack of strategy. The team agreed to make a table sauce, a mass-market product, but they didn’t see this through. Mass-market, means mass-produced, cheap to make and therefore cheap for the consumer.
Katie didn’t make this clear to her team and Ricky fell flat in production, failing to mass-produce and incurring a lot of wastage, more commonly known as cost.
Mass-market also means, appealing to the masses. When creating the brand name of Belissimo (sic.), there was no thought to the masses: as Lord Sugar pointed out, you can’t see the average trucker saying “Oi, ‘Arry, pass the Bellissimo for my pork pie.”
Given the lack of product, Katie switched her mass strategy to premium, upping the price up, too. OK, so it meant she had a healthy margin for error, but consumers and of course trade aren’t stupid. Despite liking the product, they knew it wasn’t premium and therefore they weren’t willing to hand over the cash.
This meant a lot of left over stock and a lot of lost profit. Had Katie stuck to her mass strategy and kept the RRP down, there is no doubt she would have sold the lot. Her margins might not have been as high, but I’ll bet her profit would have been.
So, the next time you get strategic remember: if there was enough reason to lay down a plan at the start, then there is reason to stick to it. Stay authentic and loyal to your strategy whatever the cost, or you just won’t cut the mustard!
Until next time.
Francesca Cockram is a marketing executive at talent management consultancy, The Chemistry Group.
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