Change and disruption are the new normal in virtually every industry, but especially so in the food and retail businesses. Both sectors are being up-ended by technology, changing consumer expectations and desires, new business models, and the rising tide of the venture space, where new entrants are capturing a disproportionate share of the sector’s growth.
As innovators we often turn to the challengers (technologists, startups, VCs) for perspectives, only to hear them sound the death knell with terms like “the retail apocalypse.” And indeed, the very business models of big food and big retail are under fire – incumbents in both industries are facing an existential threat. But what we don’t often hear are the perspectives of progressive growth-focused leaders that are embracing innovation and reshaping their business prospects.
In late January, at the Global Corporate Venturing & Innovation (GCVI) Summit in Monterey, I led a fireside chat discussion with Polly Flinn – Executive Vice President and General Manager of Giant Eagle, the supermarket and convenience store chain that she refers to as an “85-year-old startup” for its approach to innovation. We talked about the ways the retailer is responding to change and disruption, and from that conversation emerged five key strategies that companies should embrace in order to adapt, transform themselves, and thrive in rapidly-changing markets.