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Food and beverage marketers face rising inflation and commodity costs, retailer pricing pressure, tight supply chains, onerous regulations and consumers with a vast array of choices and methods of comparative shopping.

Competitive advantages are also becoming more short-lived: E-commerce and the internet offer consumers more buying power and choice than ever. Technology and data-driven decision-making help marketers conduct instantaneous research on competitors. Today’s food and beverage brands must become agile, flexible and adaptable to their competition.

While some of the time-honored techniques are still relevant, including:

-Lowest cost producer
-Differentiated product – offering products that no other competitor offers
-First to market
-Supply chain management (relates to lowest cost producer), and
-Product lifestyle management

We believe that in today’s hyper-competitive environment, food and beverage brands need to develop more subtle competitive advantages than simply being a low-cost producer or first mover. These new advantages include:

-Empowering employees
-Attracting and retaining the best and brightest employees
-Encouraging teamwork and collaboration
-Increasing external partnerships (often with quasi-competitors)
-Improving innovation
-Becoming process-driven in order to replicate success in new markets

By becoming process-driven and building innovation and creativity throughout the entire organization, companies begin serving niche segments that no other competitor serves. Brands begin to “own” one or more categories, and with built-in processes, these competitive advantages can be replicated in several markets simultaneously. The subsequent dominance leads to cost savings and further competitive advantages with shelf pricing and retailers.

By having one or more competitive advantages, a brand’s products become more attractive to local consumers than competitive products. Collectively a brand’s competitive advantages offer consumers a unique value proposition that other brands do not offer.