10 Most Influential Companies 2019
Winston Weber & Associates (WWA) was founded in 1985. Its goal has always been to have a global perspective and provide leadership thinking with practical, implementable solutions. The company is known for providing more value and client return on investment than very large consulting firms staffed mostly by junior consultants with minimal business experience and those loose consortium consultancies, staffed by independent contractors, who typically experience inconsistent quality control. More value and client return on investment means an uncompromising emphasis on quality and trust, a “say it as we see it” approach and the ability to consistently exceed client expectations.
We got an opportunity to converse with Win Weber, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and Founder
What is WWA’s modus operandi?
We are a small “boutique” consulting firm with a worldwide reputation. Our goal has always been to have a global perspective and provide leadership thinking with practical, implementable solutions. We are known for providing more value and client return on investment than very large consulting firms staffed mostly by junior consultants with minimal business experience and those loose consortium consultancies, staffed by independent contractors, who typically experience inconsistent quality control. More value and client return on investment means an uncompromising emphasis on quality and trust, a “say it as we see it” approach and the ability to consistently exceed client expectations. These qualities and our dedication to providing leading edge thinking with implementable solutions has helped us to achieve our goal…this is our reputation today.
Our senior consultants average over 30 years of business experience in general management, retail management, sales management, brand management and supply chain management in the consumer products industry. They bring a unique blend of skills, expertise and a “real world” business perspective to each client assignment and are ideally suited to deal with companies trying to leverage leadership positions in the marketplace as well as turnaround situations. Importantly, whatever the situation, we have an in-depth appreciation for the need to focus on running the business while changing the business. This ensures the achievement of near-term performance targets while change is taking place.
Companies can come and go with the times, but only some companies have the capacity to change the world for the best. What qualifies you to be one of them?
Winston Weber & Associates has been instrumental in driving industry change through the introduction of trading partner collaboration in the late 1980’s, Category Management in 1990 and most recently the introduction of the new beyond category management Shopper-Centric Retailing business model. Many throughout the industry value our leadership thinking and practical application.
We are also viewed as having an unparalleled understanding of the interrelationship between retailers and their supplier partners.
What challenges is your industry facing and how do you plan to capitalize on the opportunity?
Amazon is a major disruptor who will change how “brick and mortar” retailers, particularly super markets, mass merchants, dollar stores, chain drug stores and department stores go-to-market in the future. We are also dealing with the most dynamic change in decades with expanding food lifestyles, shoppers wanting solutions tailored to their lifestyles, digital connectedness, social media, on-line shopping, delivery options and increasing generational complexities.
In the supermarket industry, we are leveraging these trends by focusing on the shopper and enhancement of the shopping experience through implementation of our new beyond category management Shopper-Centric Retailing business model, applying enhanced analytic capabilities to support this model and implementing advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology with the capability of predicting and mitigating out-of-stocks. The new Shopper-Centric Retailing business model significantly increases the ability of the retailer to enhance the shopping experience through the shopper centered alignment of strategies, tactics and execution, organization structure, business processes, merchandising competencies and performance measures across internal functions and between trading partners at the “touch point” with the shopper… the store.
Finally, we now have the ability through AI technology to address the decades old 8%-10% out-of-stock problem that crosses many channels. Our experience to-date indicates we can reduce out-of-stock conditions at least 50%.
The Shopper-Centric Retailing business model, or components of the model, can be successfully applied across retail channels, to varying degrees.
In your interactions with CIOs of leading companies, what sense do you get of the challenges they face now in the retail services and marketing space and how is Winston Weber & Associates effectively addressing these issues?
Artificial intelligence and machine learning – these technologies are no longer separable, and increasingly must be integrated into a digital strategy alongside human workers. For many retailers and consumer goods manufacturers, this means moving from the evaluation of individual elements and solutions to an integrative approach to the entire technology ecosystem. Challenges include investment priorities, available resources and magnitude of change. Our role is to make sure merchandising, sales and marketing management has a voice in these decisions to ensure alignment between theory and practical application.
There are a number of companies out there that are vying for the top position. What are the strategies employed by Winston Weber & Associates to thwart the market competition and what according to you are the distinct features of Winston Weber & Associates/differentiating factors that give it a competitive edge?
Our primary strategy to thwart competition is to continue to be first to market with leading edge solutions such as Shopper-Centric Retailing, advanced analytics and our AI capability to reduce out of stocks. This is reinforced by the fact that we are a very experienced consulting team that has an unparalleled ability to translate leading edge thinking into practical solutions, not a group of less experienced consultants following the textbook. We have very tight quality control. No consultant has less than 30 years in the business.
They say great companies have some qualities in common, list three such qualities a company must have to be great.
In today’s rapidly changing marketplace we believe there are three qualities a company must have to be great. First, a company must have a culture that allows its management to be forward thinkers and risk takers. Second, a company must offer products and services that clearly differentiate it from competition. Third, a company must be truly customer focused from top down and across the organization.
Competition is at its peak, and there are millions of companies in this world which mint billions a year. Do you think startup/budding companies stand a chance to build their way to success?
Since we began thirty four years ago market dynamics have radically changed. As the result of mergers and consolidations, we have approximately one-third of the potential clients today compared to when we began in the consumer products industry we serve. With fewer potential clients, it is very difficult for a startup/budding company in the consulting business to succeed unless it has a key point of differentiation and value proposition that makes in more attractive than the moderate size and larger firms. Frankly, this is how we have survived and remained relevant so many years. What I have just described is similar to many industries in today’s highly competitive marketplace.
Greet the luminary
Win Weber spent his initial years in the consumer products industry building an impressive record of achievement with major consumer products companies, including senior sales executive positions and president of two sales corporations.
Since entering management consulting thirty-four years ago, Win has consulted for CPG manufacturers, retailers, wholesalers and industry associations. He has gained a worldwide reputation as one of the original architects of category management and an expert in translating the principles of category management from theory to practical application. He recently introduced, in collaboration with the Food Marketing Institute and Deloitte Consulting, the new beyond category management business model referred to as Shopper-Centric Retailing.
He has a B.A. degree from Syracuse University. Win is member and former Chairman of the Board of Visitors, College of Arts and Sciences, Syracuse University. He is also a member of the Food Marketing (FMI) Institute Industry Collaboration Council and Promotion Optimization Institute (POI) Education Board.
“We have extensive industry experience and expertise with both retailers and manufacturers.”
“We Are Uniquely Qualified and Positioned, Versus Other Consulting Firms.”