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Coke’s new CEO is using retail’s scapegoat to explain declining sales

(BUSINESS NEWS) Coke’s sales are down and the company’s new CEO has an interesting theory on why that’s so.

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Online sale

Coca Cola Co. CEO James Quincey has a new job and his company has a new obstacle: online shopping.

bar
Quincey took the throne May 1, but trouble has been bubbling up for the soda company for quite some time now. According to recent research, customers made 51% of their purchases online last year, up from 48% the year before. It’s safe to say that number will only increase thanks to mobile devices: 63% of Millennials shop on their mobile phones every day.

Customers don’t get out much these days

They spend time scrolling through apps, shopping online for everything from boots to barbeques. Lately the focus has been on the plight of retailers like Sears and Macy’s, but traditional apparel companies are not alone in their suffering. With the growing popularity of grocery delivery, vending machines, food courts and those chilled beverages by the cash register are seeing much less action.

Think about it: you rarely head to the store just to buy a bottle of soda, but you’ve probably grabbed a quick refreshment while strolling around the mall. When you’re sitting on your couch ordering a cute handbag on Amazon, you aren’t faced with the temptation of a chilled beverage standing between you and checkout.

That’s not to say impulse buying is dead.

It’s actually more intense and intelligent than ever. The online shopper is constantly bombarded with carousels of items hand-picked just for them. Enticed by suggestions like “Customers also bought” and “You might also like”, shoppers can end up spending hundreds more than they planned on items they didn’t even set out to buy. Instead of tossing a Sprite in their cart, people are throwing in flat screen televisions and designer sunglasses.

Darn you, healthy habits!

Another behavioral shift threatens Coke’s sales. People care more about what they put into their bodies, and often choose to avoid sugary drinks. This trend will likely only become more pervasive as companies work to make healthy foods more affordable and accessible. While this is great news for people’s physical well-being, it’s essentially a death sentence for soda, which will never be viewed as “healthy.”

Both domestic and overseas soda sales have declined as restaurants have started purchasing less due to lower demand. Food sales for these same restaurants has not suffered — first, pizza and potstickers are much easier to deliver, and second, most of those lazy Millennials are sipping citrus-infused sparkling waters and Yerba Mate when they tap “Order” on their screen. They don’t need soda with all the glamorous alternatives available to quench their thirst.

If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em

The combined impact of digital and health trends has taken a toll on Coca-Cola. In the past year, the company’s stock fell by 4.9 percent. However, Quincey is not letting this discourage him: he is determined to help Coke survive the brick and mortar massacre by becoming a digital leader. Attempting to shed negative social stigma, Coke has invested in healthier drinks like Suja Life and Aloe Gloe, and is shutting down bottling plants around the globe.

Quincey is confident in his forward-thinking mission, and it would be wise for other soda companies to take a page from his book. Consumers are rapidly moving away from soda and the commercial ecosystem is doing nothing to hold them back.

Yeah, Coca-Cola is a classic. But even classics must be willing to adapt. Customers still want to “open happiness” like they have for decades. It’s just what makes them happy that’s changed.

#Cocacola

Helen Irias is a Staff Writer at The American Genius with a degree in English Literature from University of California, Santa Barbara. She works in marketing in Silicon Valley and hopes to one day publish a comically self-deprecating memoir that people bring up at dinner parties to make themselves sound interesting.

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Business News

Keep your company’s operations lean by following these proven strategies

(BUSINESS) Keeping your operations lean means more than saving money, it means accomplishing more in less time.

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The past two years have been challenging, not just economically, but also politically and socially as well. While it would be nice to think that things are looking up, in reality, the problems never end. Taking a minimalist approach to your business, AKA keeping it lean, can help you weather the future to be more successful.

Here are some tips to help you trim the fat without putting profits above people.

Automate processes

Artificial intelligence frees up human resources. AI can manage many routine elements of your business, giving your team time to focus on important tasks that can’t be delegated to machines. This challenges your top performers to function at higher levels, which can only benefit your business.

Consider remote working

Whether you rent or own your property, it’s expensive to keep an office open. As we learned in the pandemic, many jobs can be done just as effectively from home as the workplace. Going remote can save you money, even if you help your team outfit their home office for safety and efficiency.

In today’s world, many are opting to completely shutter office doors, but you may be able to save money by using less space or renting out some of your office space.

Review your systems to find the fat

As your business grows (or downsizes), your systems need to change to fit how you work. Are there places where you can save money? If you’re ordering more, you may be able to ask vendors for discounts. Look for ways to bring down costs.

Talk to your team about where their workflow suffers and find solutions. An annual review through your budget with an eye on saving money can help you find those wasted dollars.

Find the balance

Operating lean doesn’t mean just saving money. It can also mean that you look at your time when deciding to pay for services. The point is to be as efficient as possible with your resources and systems, while maintaining customer service and safety. When you operate in a lean way, it sets your business up for success.

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Business News

How to apply to be on a Board of Directors

(BUSINESS) What do you need to think about and explore if you want to apply for a Board of Directors? Here’s a quick rundown of what, why, and when.

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What?
What does a Board of Directors do? Investopedia explains “A board of directors (B of D) is an elected group of individuals that represent shareholders. The board is a governing body that typically meets at regular intervals to set policies for corporate management and oversight. Every public company must have a board of directors. Some private and nonprofit organizations also have a board of directors.”

Why?
It is time to have a diverse representation of thoughts, values and insights from intelligently minded people that can give you the intel you need to move forward – as they don’t have quite the same vested interests as you.

We have become the nation that works like a machine. Day in and day out we are consumed by our work (and have easy access to it with our smartphones). We do volunteer and participate in extra-curricular activities, but it’s possible that many of us have never understood or considered joining a Board of Directors. There’s a new wave of Gen Xers and Millennials that have plenty of years of life and work experience + insights that this might be the time to resurrect (or invigorate) interest.

Harvard Business Review shared a great article about identifying the FIVE key areas you would want to consider growing your knowledge if you want to join a board:

1. Financial – You need to be able to speak in numbers.
2. Strategic – You want to be able to speak to how to be strategic even if you know the numbers.
3. Relational – This is where communication is key – understanding what you want to share with others and what they are sharing with you. This is very different than being on the Operational side of things.
4. Role – You must be able to be clear and add value in your time allotted – and know where you especially add value from your skills, experiences and strengths.
5. Cultural – You must contribute the feeling that Executives can come forward to seek advice even if things aren’t going well and create that culture of collaboration.

As Charlotte Valeur, a Danish-born former investment banker who has chaired three international companies and now leads the UK’s Institute of Directors, says, “We need to help new participants from under-represented groups to develop the confidence of working on boards and to come to know that” – while boardroom capital does take effort to build – “this is not rocket science.

When?
NOW! The time is now for all of us to get involved in helping to create a brighter future for organizations and businesses that we care about (including if they are our own business – you may want to create a Board of Directors).

The Harvard Business Review gave great explanations of the need to diversify those that have been on the Boards to continue to strive to better represent our population as a whole. Are you ready to take on this challenge? We need you.

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Business News

Average age of successful startup founders is 45, but stop stereotyping

(BUSINESS) Our culture glorifies (yet condemns?) startup founders as rich 20-somethings in hoodies, but some are a totally different type.

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There’s a common misconception that startups are riddled with semi-nerdy, 20-something white dudes who do nothing but sip Nitro Brews and walk around the open office showing off the hoodie they wore yesterday. It turns out that it’s extremely rare that startup offices resemble The Social Network.

However, the academic backdrop for the real social network story (AKA Harvard), produced statistics that will serve to put the aforementioned misconception to rest. According to the Harvard Business Review, the average age of people who founded the highest-growth startups is 45. Say what?! A full-fledged adult?!

In fact, aside from the age category of 60 and over, ages 29 and younger were the smallest group of founders that are responsible for heading the highest-growth startups. I guess you can accomplish a lot when you’re not riding around the office on a scooter all day.

The study also found that older entrepreneurs are more likely to succeed. The probability of extreme startup success rises with age, at least until the late 50s. It was found that work experience plays an important role.

Many will argue, “Well, what about someone like Steve Jobs?” You could easily argue right back that it took Jobs until the age of 52 to create Apple’s most profitable product – the iPhone.

The study continues to answer questions like, why do Venture Capitalist investors bet on young founders? This goes back to the misconception at the start, and there’s a notion that youth is the key for successful entrepreneurship. Wrong.

There is also the idea that younger entrepreneurs are likely working with less financial options, so it may be common for them to take something from a VC at a lower price. As a result, they could be viewed as more of a bargain than older founders.

“The next step for researchers is to explore what exactly explains the advantage of middle-aged founders,” writes Pierre Azoulay, et al. “For example, is it due to greater access to financial resources, deeper social networks, or certain forms of experience? In the meantime, it appears that advancing age is a powerful feature, not a bug, for starting the most successful firms.”

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