See how we’re reimagining GMA’s future with a bold new agenda that empowers the industry to thrive and grow. Our Vision

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Our Vision for GMA’s Future

February 13, 2019

By Geoff Freeman, president and CEO, Grocery Manufacturers Association

Over the past several months, we have been working with GMA’s leadership to develop a long-term strategy to fundamentally transform our organization. Together, we have set a bold goal: to elevate GMA as the leading voice of the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry. GMA must become highly effective at articulating the industry’s narrative with key audiences, spearheading advocacy efforts to inform policy and driving initiatives that power growth.

Five core pillars will guide our work:

1. Transform the Organization

We will fundamentally reimagine and reconstruct GMA, building an organization that is prepared to succeed now and in the future. Every aspect of GMA — our identity, mission, structure, core capabilities and operations — must be aligned with our new vision. Incremental steps are not enough to achieve our goals; we must embrace organization-wide change.

2. Establish Distinct Purpose and Mission

The transformation of GMA must begin by answering two foundational questions: “who is GMA?” and “what is our mission?”

GMA has struggled to clearly answer these questions in the past, which led to confusion and conflicting priorities. In particular, GMA attempted to represent both consumer-facing and non-consumer-facing brands, and it focused on a number of “aisle-specific” issues that failed to unite industry interests.

Instead, we propose the following two simple, strategic answers:

  • We are consumer-facing brand manufacturers at our core.

The leadership of branded CPG companies must drive GMA’s agenda and priorities going forward. In today’s world, consumer-facing companies operate in a fundamentally different environment; understanding and shaping this environment must be the core of GMA’s mission.

  • We are an umbrella organization built to drive industry growth and profitability.

The new GMA will embrace a proactive, strategic agenda focused on the business of consumer packaged goods. We will be an umbrella organization that unites the industry by taking its cue from C-suite leadership and removing barriers that impede growth for our core member companies.

3. Build Proactive Advocacy Agenda

To achieve our new mission — delivering industry growth for consumer-facing brand manufacturers — GMA must develop modern advocacy capabilities that are on-par with the best trade associations. This means multi-faceted advocacy that integrates strategic communications, research, ally development and government affairs.

To build this vital function, GMA will:

  • Develop and articulate a clear, compelling industry narrative.

We will create a cohesive narrative that spotlights and quantifies our industry’s value, from economic contributions and jobs to industry innovations and environmental sustainability. This positive, compelling story will provide the basis to change perceptions, generate political and public support and shape policy.

  • Align issue priorities to C-suite priorities.

GMA’s agenda must shift to reflect the priorities of our member companies’ top leaders. This is the only way GMA can effectively drive industry growth and ensure relevance for those we serve.

  • Adopt a pro-consumer orientation.

Choice. Affordability. Access. Product Innovation. Aligning our advocacy around these pro-consumer concepts exponentially increases our prospects for success.

  • Possess a bias for offense.

Our advocacy agenda must be built on an offensive mindset — seeking opportunities for growth, driving a clear, positive narrative, actively shaping industry perceptions and framing the debate.

4. Focus on Clear Set of Priorities

We will make informed and disciplined choices about our priorities, focusing on the critical imperatives that yield the strongest returns. Instead of trying to be all things to all people, we will bring clarity to our strategy and set defined goals.

With this in mind, two core themes will drive everything we do:

  • Promote the value of our industry.

We must build a narrative about the power and impact of our industry, establishing GMA as the go-to source for influencers, expertise and research on critical consumer and industry trends. We must tell our story, instead of allowing others to tell it for us.

  • Champion smart, uniform regulation. 

We must highlight the negative impacts of costly, patchwork regulations, while calling for a smart, informed federal regulatory framework that promotes choice and builds consumer trust across the sectors we represent, from food and beverage to cleaning products.

In addition, three practice areas will command our primary focus through 2020:

  • Build trust in products.

We are a complex industry built on complicated science, chemicals and emerging technologies. Contrast that with strong emotions, rapid information sharing and a world of “alternative facts” and you have the makings for an environment that erodes trust between brands and consumers. GMA will seek to build trust by promoting our industry’s ability to provide consumers with the information they seek, shaping a more informed environment about our commitment to safety and leveraging programs, such as SmartLabel, to fill a void in the information marketplace.

  • Enhance packaging sustainability.

The industry boasts a wide range of sustainability commitments and advancements that need to be communicated to key audiences. GMA must also help demonstrate the widespread confusion around the current recycling system and the roles others must play in advancing recycling innovation.

  • Create frictionless supply chains.

Our industry is a global leader in supply chain innovation. GMA must help secure industry standing as a key stakeholder – and expert voice – on supply chain issues. Making up one-fifth of all freight, transportation capacity is an issue of immediate concern to the industry, and GMA will focus on the consumer impact of these issues, while quantifying the negative impact of recent mandates that have exacerbated transportation capacity challenges.

These areas are ideal starting points for the new GMA to earn trust with consumers, promote industry leadership and educate diverse stakeholders. Expect to hear more about these initiatives in the near future.

5. Engage Retailers Strategically

GMA is committed to determining and pursuing that which is in the best interests of manufacturers. We will seek opportunities to collaborate with retailers where our interests align. We will also expand our retailer relationships to be consistent with the customer base of members and representative of the totality of the retailer community.

Looking ahead, these five pillars will now guide GMA’s direction and decisions. We look forward to beginning this challenging, but critical work to transform our organization and create a new, powerful voice for the consumer packaged goods industry.


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