On January 29th, Hershey Co. announced disappointing profit growth for the latest quarter. The news follows a recent pattern of struggling sales for the company. There are a number of reasons for the chocolate maker’s difficulties, from the rising cost of ingredients to the strength of the U.S. dollar hurting international business. But one thing is clear, and it’s that Hershey has a problem.
Their solution? Beef jerky.
Envisioning The Change
Hershey’s strategy is a good one. Beef jerky is doing well in the snack market by offering high protein and low carbs. But perhaps more important is the specific brand that Hershey bought: Krave. Krave has branded itself as “boutique” and “premium,” a far cry from the old perception of beef jerky as cheap junk food.
We know that successful organizational change can come by changing perceptions instead of the company’s actual product. Hershey isn’t really buying a specific product by acquiring Krave. They’re buying a new brand image.
Employees As Brand Ambassadors
When it comes to revamping your brand, it’s not just about the public announcement from the company. All of the employees need to engage with and act out that brand vision. The only way for organizational change to succeed is if it’s clearly communicated and everyone is on board.
Otherwise it doesn’t matter how good the commercials or official statements are—customers get their impressions of a company from the ground-level interactions they have with people. For instance, CMO Council and Lithium found that when it come to social media, companies can influence customers almost as much as personal friends can:
- 81% are influenced by their friends’ posts
- 78% are influenced by companies’ posts
For Hershey and its new acquisition, the social media strategy might be about targeting foodies and health enthusiasts interested in low-carb diets, rather than suggesting beef jerky as a snack for watching TV on the couch. This means involving the marketing folks. And the designers of the brand website, to make sure the company page portrays the right brand vision. And the salespeople communicating about the product ... The list goes on.
Don’t Leave Them Behind
Reinventing a brand isn’t just the job of the company leaders, but unfortunately many companies behave like it is. And failing to bring everyone on board results in a failed brand vision:
- 44% of employees say they resist change because they don’t understand the change they’re being asked to make (source)
- Only 40% of employees strongly agree with the statement "I know what my company stands for and what makes our brand(s) different from our competitors" (source)
Whether you’re expanding your market with a new product like Hershey or transforming your existing brand, don’t neglect the role of your employees. They’re the resource that will drive your success.