Welcome to Cola War in Nigeria Day 12… The series today is about a vice that affects big brands and leads most times to their pitfalls. Sometimes, it can affect smaller brands but the established brands and the market leaders suffer it more. It is called corporate arrogance. Corporate arrogance occurs when you have market dominance and can scale easily. It shows up when companies become big and it becomes difficult to strike a right balance between ambition and humility, external curiosity and inward focus, restlessness and complacency. Another word for corporate arrogance is hubris. A feeling of superiority and excessive pride. When companies become bigger, these are traits that show up. As companies grow larger, it experiences more intriguing internal politics, bureaucracy and poor listening ability. Corporate arrogance prevents an organization from adapting to changes in the micro and macro environment. This often results in missed opportunities and it kills the ability to reinvent. There are suggestions that are buried and ideas that are condemned because of this. Brand managers in multinational corporations suffer this sometimes when they have to get approval from a senior marketing executive in the global head office. The brand manager is on the ground and understands the changing dynamics however, the senior executive will want to adopt a strategy that worked in another country for another one. He forgets that consumer behaviour differs from one geographical location to another. This scenario has been the bane of many multinationals and it could affect any of the big brands in this.
Similarly, salesmen are also victims of corporate arrogance when they give suggestions and ideas to the marketing team but are turned down. The sales team relate with customers every day and you can be guaranteed the freshest information in the market from them. An organization that will win a marketing war must show tolerance for experimentation and different thinking. It must be ready to innovate and read the market. It must be open to ideas from all and sundry. It must listen to salesmen, distributors and the retailers.
Any corporation that wants to win the fight in the market must never operate a delusion of “we know better”. It is just a little slip to move from the language of leadership to the language of arrogance. The moment ideas are being rebuffed, it is a signal of delusion. Being big and successful can easily make one parochial and lose sight of little things that matter. Pursuing efficiency is good but it must not be at the expense of innovation and new ideas. There are companies that have died for this reason. An example is the Kodak company.
We will continue tomorrow as the topic of corporate arrogance is one that needs to be expanded thoroughly. Details of what happened to Kodak will be discussed tomorrow and similar companies like that will be evaluated.