Frédéric Thil (Ferrero): this is the way to manage uncertainty

Interview with the managing director of Ferrero Group at Linkontro Nielsen 2015
Frédéric Thil (Ferrero): this is the way to manage uncertainty

First of all, Frédéric Thil, managing director of Ferrero company‘s aim is to make order in words. To examine the implications of managing uncertainty in more practical terms, implies to clarify how the word innovation should be used. “I’m confident in this – states Till at Linkontro Nielsen 2015 – : stop using the word innovation which has become so much common . The reason why is that inflated language slows it down and confuse business people on what the goals are. A word is just a word. It’s your actions that matter for governing uncertainty, not the labels you use. Unless you’re taking the time to ensure every company in the global scenario uses this word to mean the same thing it’s jargon; the word fails to convey meaning”. Consequently the solution, according to Thil, is to reverse the perspective: “In Ferrero company we try to use the word ‘innovation’ to serve a scope. First of all we have a goal, secondly the innovation become a step to reach the goal”.

Moreover, innovation deals less with promotion and more with communications capabilities to consumers. It’s up to the company which is in charge to educate shoppers to make the right choice for themselves. This is the challenge, according to Thil, who states the topic in broader terms, entailing a more flexible approach to strategy formulation and shorter time to market. “We need to be more local and more responsive to market.” the Managing Director explains: ” In front of a threat, the first reply of a company is reacting with centralization. But this is the opposite solution that’s internationalization’ process requires. Indeed it means to develop local forces”.

And to move closer with locally strategic plans offers the opportunity of improving working relationships with distributors, to market products more personalized. Unfortunately, it may happen that a company faces deadline which are very wide in its business plan. In a situation of crisis, the time to market gets shorter. So we must be more responsive to consumers. How? ” We will obtain constant success throughout small victories. The big actions do not exist or they fail. Learning from experience is my advice, takes advantage to losing practice in order to rebuild a best practice for your company”. The imperative stressed over and over again by the business talked about to related to an organization’s strategic readiness for sudden and unexpected threatens and opportunities, through a combination of strategic flexibility, strong collaboration with distributors, collaborative partnership, predictive learning and agility.

Team building is to create collaboration around a goal and perceive it though the strategy of the small victories. Sometimes companies may do a test in a region: this works well and this does not. Fundamental is the management to govern uncertainty. Without the human capital nothing is possible. It’s the core of the company. ” We often speak about sustainability which leads to corporate social responsibility. That is a good practice for all firms even if is yet less profitable compared to others strategies. But one advantage that sustainability brings is in terms of human capital. Companies who act well, have coherent habits and respect the environment, then receive positive regards from consumers, getting more attractive for talented workers. Sustainability is made up from three pillars: economic, social, environment. We have a corporate responsibility, first of all in front of our employees”.

Even if there is much more consensus around those kind of companies, the md of the confectionary Italian company is not so confident that sustainability is a fruitful strategy for revenues. The reason why is that the link between citizen and consumer is still lacking in domestic market. “Shoppers are both inhabitants of the environment whereby firm is operating and consumers. At the shop they don’t buy your products even if they think you are more sustainable. They consider prices and promotions. It not a bilateral relations.” but he adds -“We are Italian manufacturers and we want to support our country. We are targeting growth in Italy” – in addition he announces that : “our latest product, named B-Ready, has been launched in domestic market and we are selling it for Italian customers. We are proud to be an Italian company”. Saying goodbye to past president Michele Ferrero, he’d like to remember “his obsession for quality and his respect for workers”.

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