Culture and connections at Global Consumer Goods Forum
Recently I had the fortune to be wheels up to Kyoto, Japan where I spent a fast and furious three and a half days immersed in culture and connections at the Global Consumer Goods Forum (CGF).
Before sharing context about the CGF, I wanted to share my general observations:
The people and environment were incredible: trusting, respectful, helpful, safe and efficient.
I grew up in Sao Paulo, Brasil and Brussels, Belgium and studied abroad in Brisbane, Australia while in college. International travel is in my blood and every time I have the opportunity to immerse in a new culture, it’s invigorating and enlightening. Across the global, we are all more similar than not.
Talent across our industry is special
Purpose, passion and doing right for humanity (and the planet) were prevalent themes. Everywhere. Did you know that the food industry drives 30% of global carbon emissions? Farm to table, with transportation being the dominant reason. Members of the CGF are committed to make a difference and change that reality. Beyond that heavy topic, the pure quality of humans there was top notch. From train travel to associates in stores, Uber rides to global leaders looking to make a meaningful impact. Solid people, strong curiosity, eager learners.
Our opportunity looms large
Our opportunity to learn, our opportunity to influence, our opportunity to impact… our customers, our community, our global partners and global peers. I spent 11 hours in stores in my first 24 hours in Kyoto and saw firsthand what incredible fresh food (product and presentation) they have, immersive experiences they create and pure energy around me. That dominoed into 2 days at the conference where discussions touched on sustainability, regenerative agriculture, AI, retail media, food scarcity, climate change, channel-less commerce, mental wellbeing AND an appearance by Mr. Ken Watanabe himself. Each session was enlightening. Pause, reflect and take action. I’ve been stuck on a Tony Robbins quote of late: “Knowledge is NOT power. Knowledge is only potential. Action is power.” Read that, live by it daily (please).
Okay, so what is the CGF?
It’s a 400-member organization bringing together retailers and brands across the globe, focused on driving collaboration on non-competitive opportunities that require partnership where standards can be created and as an industry so we can collectively tackle challenges faster. They are rooted in action with a mission of better lives through better business.
The three principles that anchor the organization:
Accelerate positive impact: driving focused actions and faster together
Transparency: tell the world what we’re doing which comes with accountability to drive progress
Focus and flexibility with freedom to participate is needed
While organized across ‘coalitions of action’, they have prioritized five of their nine so they can zero in on progress. The 5 priority coalitions are:
Employee mental and physical health
Forest positive supplier approach
Human rights due diligence
Plastic golden design rules
Roughly 1000 attendees joined me in Kyoto (40% retail, 40% CPG and 20% services, latter largely consulting firms). The C-Suite was in full presence… from Coca Cola to Alibaba, Ahold Delhaize to Mondelez, PepsiCo to Walmart and many, many more. You might be wondering; how did YOU get there? McKinsey reached out in February as they help design the agenda for this special event. Members were asking about retail media to learn from and they view Kroger Precision Marketing as a leader in this special space (rightly so, we have a lot to be proud of and a bright future in front of us!). Make no mistake, the work from our incredible team drove the spotlight and the opportunity to take the main stage for a plenary session, moderated by Isabelle Kumar and with Andy Murray. For that I’m certainly humbled and grateful.
Show and Tell
When you’re on a 13-hour time change from ‘home’, it’s easy to fully immerse in the experience, content and talent (with quite a few coffees scattered throughout the day). Some very sharp messages were shared throughout, from government leaders to retail and CPG pioneers to consulting firms assessing a macro landscape.
A few favorite messages that deeply resonated with me are:
The impact of channel-less models on grocery will be just as dramatic as the impact of video on demand on tv entertainment (channel-less requires a new mindset and new metrics) [Capgemini]
Radical new technology is radically overplayed in the short-term but radically underplayed in the long-term [Coca Cola]
In any growth business you feel like you’re perpetually in a state of organizational design [Nestlé]
Performance without sustainability has no future and sustainability without performance has no impact [Danone]
Strengthening core while playing to the future keeps me up at night [Godiva]
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