“FMCG: The Power of Fast-Moving Consumer Goods”
Over 40 years of business experience in Marketing, Market Research, Internet/Tech, Real Estate, Investment & Property Funds, Fund Raising & Stock Markets, Publishing, & Consultancy with a focus for the last 22 years on the Emerging Markets.
Currently Chairman in New Invest co, focused o raising money & investing in Tec, Property & Infrastructure projects, with offices in Monaco, Shanghai, Dubai & Moscow.
Chairman of Storewars, a world wide business Simulation/training/coaching business, operating in over 40 countries, working with the majority of the worlds leading FMCG & Retail Food businesses. 2003 – current.
Involved in Russian Real Estate over the past 18 years, introducing the first significant International Bank loan to a Russian developer ($500m) in 1995; taking the founder of Raven Russia to Moscow, helping raise the initial $300m/Purchase initial industrial site/project for $74m. Organizing in 2007/8 a property investment fund of $180m.
Executive Chairman of Knight Frank Russia from 2003 till 2008, responsible for the growth of the business & strategic development.
Chairman of Chesterton International real estate in Russia and the South of France, Chesterton Cote du Azur from 2009 to 2013.
Frequent speaker throughout Europe/Asia on market, retail, internet & developments across these sectors.
The keynote speaker at the first HP conference for 5 years in Asia (Macau, autumn 2013), presenting “key trends in internet and retail, worldwide” to the leading 450 retailers in Asia/Greater China.
Early roles included, CEO of GFK Russia, Chairman of The Russian Market Research Company (RMRC). CEO of Publishing Holdings, MD of ICD, International communication & Data. Chairman of London & Sussex securities ltd.
In early 2014 Greg’s will launch his 3rd book on “E-Retail”, 2014 “History of FMCG” the details behind the worlds leading 18 consumer-facing companies. 2012 “Storewars” the battle for mindspace & shelfspace.
Professor, of modern marketing & internet at IUM (International University of Monaco) , together with regular gust speaking engagements in universities across Asia & Europe.
Involved in politics’, a candidate for the UK, Conservative party for the European parliament from November 1991, previously a consultant on modern electioneering techniques to central office. Chairman of conservatives abroad Moscow 1993 -1997. Involved in various charities & funding events , Inc. D. Chairman of “sense” the UK charity for Deaf blind children. Awarded “ Commander of the order of Saint Stanislaus”, for work on sending book to Poland.
Interview: Greg Thain
Q1: What motivated you to write FMCG: The Power of Fast-Moving Consumer Goods? Were your intentions centered around contributions to research and business communities?
A: Plainly, a book that brings together as much information as FMCG does is going to contribute to research. And as far as business communities are concerned, all those mentioned are likely to want to read about themselves—that’s human nature. But perhaps the book’s principal job, and the reason for writing it, is to open eyes, demonstrate the power of FMCG in global markets and show how that power has been achieved, firstly by the established giants and secondly by the giants-in-waiting, who will almost certainly be emerging, and are emerging now, from the vast storehouse that is the emerging markets. And after all, FMCG is where we spend a lot of our money where most of our marketing originates.
Q2:You are the CEO of Storewars International. Can you briefly explain the system available to business people that Storewars International offers?
A: At the heart of FMCG is the continual negotiation between manufacturer and retailer. Both want to maximize their exposure to markets and the profits made from these markets. So, it’s possible to learn that difficult business on the job, over many years at the coal-face. What Storewars does is reproduce these conditions as faithfully and as accurately as only a highly sophisticated simulation can, and over time. Storewars can give you what amounts to three years of experience in a matter of days, providing highly realistic decision-making and negotiation with all-too-realistic consequences for the bottom line. It’s the world’s best business simulation, plus probably being the most effective learning/training for executives and directors. The simulation gives you control over a $600 million company, and that’s a lot of fun! In addition, and despite the fact that participants know they’re running a simulation, it’s so realistic that the euphoria profits generate is very real, as is the gloom generated by losses.
Q3:How does your text, FMCG: The Power of Fast-Moving Consumer Goods, function as a supportive text for Storewars International? How does the text support readers who are not from Storewars International?
A: It’s not intended as a supportive text. It’s a book in its own right about how global business works and who are the big players now and in the future. That said, anything that describes FMCG in the amount of detail we go into is obviously going to assist anyone else who is involved in FMCG or employed by it.
Q4:FMCG: The Power of Fast-Moving Consumer Goods functions as a history of major brands and marketing plans. In what ways can readers use this information to break into markets and employment opportunities?
A: By reading how others have done the same thing, looking at the mistakes that were made – many, often nearly fatal – and also at the ideas and initiatives that worked. Information is power, and power enables. And FMCG is packed with information, not just about balance sheets and the costs of acquisitions but about the individual men and women who started and then drove the businesses. Is there just one particular type of individual here? No.
Q5:Of the brands discussed throughout the text, which do you find to be the most engaging and why?
A: Probably Danone. It’s a huge company that’s changed our lives. But its origins stem almost entirely from the welfare of starving and diseased local kids in the ruins of post-World War I Barcelona. As a father of five kids, I’m bound to have a very soft spot for a company that begins like that.
Q6:How do companies build on the strategies of others? How do the histories—successes and failures—create market trends over time?
A: Companies operate like sensible people. If they see a good idea, they try to copy it or develop it so that it suits them. So, a good idea spawns similar ideas, and a set of similar ideas spawns structure, one aspect of which will be market trends.
Q7:At the close of your book, China’s market eruption is discussed. How has China, as a whole, built upon the work of earlier companies?
A: China didn’t erupt; it grew very quickly, which is not at all the same thing. Nor can a country build on the work of other companies particularly easily, although it can develop as it sees other countries doing. But it’s nature. Think of the emerging markets as a vacuum. Nature, as we know, abhors a vacuum. And once the material becomes available, the vacuum tends to fill very quickly. The fascinating truth is that, even now, the global business vacuum waiting to be filled is a great deal bigger than the rest of the relatively filled world. Eruptions, in your language, or what I prefer to call exponential growth, will be the principal characteristic of global business for the next 50 years. For example, you have to realize that China already has many cities over 10 million and not just one capital. But many traditional FMCG companies come from countries dominated by one capital city. It follows that you need a different mindset for China and for India, in fact for most emerging countries.
Q8:In reference to Q7, what separates US and European markets from achieving China’s current model of success?
A: I think I just answered that question. But I’ll answer it again: the vacuum. And always remembering that being big in Shanghai or Beijing is only the start. It’s absolutely not the same thing as being big in China.
Q9:Many of the companies mentioned in your work began as family businesses. Do you feel this trend has been depleted, or do family businesses continue to successfully integrate into national and international markets with the same velocity?
A: It takes an individual to start a business. If the individual has family who can work, he’s likely to employ him or her – family members are likely more trustworthy and affordable. So, it looks like the family business, at least as a very common model, is here to stay, at least until humans are bred is test tubes by computers. But changes have to take place as business size accelerates, and family model morphs into corporate model. The change from the family team to corporate business management is currently taking place in Russia. And it can be a big challenge.
Q10:Aside from being a business expert, you have also had a political career. In your opinion, what role does politics play in synergistic marketing strategies?
A: I don’t know what a synergistic marketing strategy is, so I’ll answer the question as though ‘synergistic’ was not in it. But the answer’s simple enough. Even in non-democratic countries, and certainly in democratic ones, politicians generally have shorter lifespans than business moguls. They certainly have less power and much less money. So the relationship between big business – very big business – and politics can frequently resemble the relationship between a large and powerful horse and an uncertain, inexperienced rider. Any control you think you have is probably accidental, and any control you think you’re going to get may well be wishful thinking. Except, of course, where the politician and the businessman are one and the same. That’s a much more likely scenario in the emerging markets, of course. And a further example of how a western mindset may need radical overhaul if it is to cope with the next fifty years of FMCG expansion.
Q11:How do you see synergy working in today’s companies, and do you see this as being required for long-term, corporate success?
A: Many of the top companies now use their own name as a brand. Mars, Danone, L’OREAL are good examples. This makes advertising more efficient. But it makes it harder to get definition when launching into new areas.
Be sure to visit Greg’s web site @
Interview by -Stacey Wood / Editor FEDP
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