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jerryking : price_wars   6

Business Development Not-to-Do #5: Live In the Past | JD Supra Perspectives -
April 21, 2017 | JDSupra | by Mike O'Horo, co-founder of RainmakerVT. O'Horo has trained 7000 lawyers in firms of all sizes and types, in virtually every practice type. They attribute $1.5 billion in additional business to their collaboration. His latest innovation, Dezurve, reduces firms’ business development training investment risks by identifying which lawyers are serious about learning BD.]

If you’re seeing more competition for each engagement, greater pressure on rates, more involvement by professional buyers in the Purchasing Dept., and perhaps worst of all, longtime clients putting out RFPs for “your” work, your work has reached the Maturity stage of its Product Cycle. If you fail to change, you’ll ride a downward spiral until you can no longer make money on that work.

What is the product cycle?  Introduction ->Growth -> Maturity -> Decline. Revenue and profit follow a fairly predictable path through this cycle. Most buyers understand that, among the three forms of value -- Good, Fast, Cheap -- they can only have two. During the Introduction and Growth phases, they opt for Good and Fast. At Maturity, they favor Good and Cheap. At Decline, they may demand all three......

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Defending market share becomes the chief concern.
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At the maturity stage, sales growth has started to slow and is approaching the point where the inevitable decline will begin. Defending market share becomes the chief concern. Most lawyers don’t know how to do that other than by reducing their price to try to hold on to the work. Additionally, more competitors have stepped forward to challenge you for every engagement, and offer a lower price. This can touch off price wars. Lower prices mean lower profits, which will cause some wise lawyers to discontinue offering that service altogether. The maturity stage is usually the longest of the four life cycle stages, and it is not uncommon for a service to be in the mature stage for several decades. Whatever you’re experiencing now is also the future.

For quite awhile, lawyers who thought about this at all could be forgiven for believing that legal services were immune from this. After all, for more than 20 years, buyers and work were plentiful, and clients accepted annual rate increases of 6-10%. All that meant, though, was that legal services had a longer Growth phase than is normal. Even during that 20-year boom, many legal services declined in value and pricing power, to the point that many lawyers lost that business to lower-cost competitors, off-shoring, or to in-house legal staffs.
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You can’t justify investing in a declining asset.
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The symptoms cited in the opening paragraph are reliable indicators that it’s time to begin reducing your dependence on that work. You can’t justify investing in a declining asset.......One of the big factors causing price pressure in mature categories is decreased risk. The first time a company tackles a type of legal matter, the perceived risk is high. They want to get it done right, and quickly, so they’re less sensitive to cost and place greater value on expertise as a way to reduce risk.

After something has been done a number of times, the risk of getting it done right goes way down, so the perceived value of the service declines, and they no longer feel the need to pay the top lawyer in the game.......

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When risk and business impact declines, so does your access...
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Once the recipe is known, the risk declines and, along with it, the buyer’s willingness to pay a premium for the wizard practitioner.

When risk and business impact declines, so does your access. While the top people pay attention to unfamiliar matters with potentially high stakes, once the risk goes down, they delegate downward and move on to emerging issues that have greater risk and impact.
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associate yourself with a business problem that triggers demand for your expertise, and opens doors to those experiencing that problem.
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Just as it’s imprudent to invest in declining categories of legal matters, it’s a bad idea to hitch your wagon to a declining industry (unless you do Bankruptcy or Restructuring). Clients in mature industries experience the same increased competition, price pressure, and shrinking margins as you do. They’ll opt for Good and Cheap.

To avoid suddenly realizing that you’re in a tough spot such as described in the opening paragraph, focus on an industry. Become an industry expert, knowledgeable about their challenges and opportunities, and keep yourself well informed so you can recognize the early signs that your Door-Opener (the problem that drives demand for your service) is maturing and declining in significance. If you know what’s going on in the industry, you’ll know which problems to shift your association toward.

Always invest in emerging issues, preferably in robust, growing industries
cash_cows  decline  industry_analysis  law_firms  lawyers  life_cycle  industry_expertise  professional_service_firms  product_cycles  obsolescence  price_wars 
6 weeks ago by jerryking
Toys ‘R’ Us Case Is Test of Private Equity in Age of Amazon
MARCH 15, 2018 | The New York Times | By MICHAEL CORKERY.

The reality is that Toys “R” Us, which announced on Thursday that it would shutter or sell all of its stores in the United States, never had much chance at a turnaround.

For over a decade, Toys “R” Us had been drowning in $5 billion of debt, which its private equity backers had saddled it with. With debt payments siphoning off cash every year, Toys “R” Us could not properly invest in its worn-out suburban stores or outdated website. Sales plummeted, as Amazon captured more children’s desires — and their parents’ wallets — for Star Wars Legos and Paw Patrol recycling trucks.

Toys “R” Us is the latest failure of financial engineering, albeit one that could portend a potentially more ominous outlook for private equity in the digital era.....Most buyouts tend to work the same way. A private equity firm takes over a troubled company with the goal of sprucing up the strategy, cutting costs and overhauling the business over three or five years. But they often load up a company with debt to pay for the deal, which can prove problematic if the profits do not perk up.

In the age of Amazon, that formula can be dangerous. Consumer demands are changing so quickly that heavily indebted companies have trouble reordering their business to adapt and compete with better-funded rivals...... the deterioration of Toys “R” Us from a potential turnaround strategy to the end of an iconic brand — in a matter of months — shows just how difficult it can be for private equity to compete in a rapidly evolving industry. In retailing, Amazon is reordering everything on the store shelf. And children’s changing interest in games and toys, which now encompasses high-end electronics, adds to the complexity.....Enter Amazon. In recent years, the company had started to aggressively expand its toy business, creating a comprehensive, online showroom with low prices at the click of a button. Pressed by Amazon, Walmart also pushed hard into toys, dropping its prices to capture more market share.

Walmart could absorb the price cuts on toys because it makes up the profit on other items. But for Toys “R” Us, a price war on toys and games, its only offerings, was devastating.
private_equity  bankruptcies  toys  digital_economy  Amazon  Wal-Mart  KKR  Bain_Capital  Toys_"R"_Us  financial_engineering  LBOs  buyouts  shifting_tastes  category_killers  price_wars 
march 2018 by jerryking
Big brands lose pricing power in battle for consumers
Save to myFT
Anna Nicolaou in New York and Scheherazade Daneshkhu in London 2 HOURS AGO

The product manufacturers are being squeezed by the big retailers — notably, Amazon and Walmart, which together sell $600bn worth of goods a year. Walmart has long put pressure on suppliers to cut prices. Amazon’s rise has exacerbated the “deflationary impact”, Société Générale says, creating a “much tougher environment in the US”. After Amazon bought Whole Foods in June, the price war grew more intense in groceries, pushing prices to historic lows that punished producers. 

Brand loyalty has suffered in the process. Equipped with the tools to compare prices online instantly, and bombarded with more choices, shoppers are growing more likely to opt for cheaper and discounted products — particularly in categories such laundry detergent and shampoo. To keep their spots on store shelves, brands are having to accept lower prices......Former Amazon employees say the company’s algorithms scan prices across competitors in real time, automatically adjusting its own so it can offer the lowest price. While most big brands have wholesale agreements with Amazon, third-party sellers are prolific on the site, complicating price control further. A 34oz bottle of P&G’s Pantene Pro-V Shampoo & Conditioner was listed by 10 different sellers — nine of them third parties — on the shopping site.

Amazon’s dominance makes it difficult for brands to abandon the platform, or try to sell directly on their own websites. “You have 200m customers on Amazon. If you walk away, there’s 200m people who are going to just buy from your competitors,” says James Thomson, a former Amazon manager who consults brands. “You’re probably not going to win.”

“This is a pretty dire situation,” he adds. “If brands are worried about meeting quarterly targets, they can’t afford to lose Amazon sales.”

Still, “the retailers have nothing to gain by pushing [consumer products makers] into bankruptcy”,
......Consumer goods companies have responded to the pricing pressures by aggressively cutting costs, led by the “zero-based budgeting” model of 3G Capital,
large_companies  Fortune_500  brands  CPG  pricing  price_wars  shareholder_activism  Amazon  P&G  Nestlé  win_backs  price-cutting  Nelson_Peltz  shifting_tastes  Colgate-Palmolive  upstarts  Unilever  zero-based_budgeting  3G_Capital  e-commerce  Mondelez  Big_Food 
february 2018 by jerryking
Whole Foods changes unlikely to spark Canadian grocery price wars
August 29th | The Globe and Mail | by DAVID FRIEND.

The country's biggest grocers are unlikely to play along with deep cuts by Whole Foods' new owner Amazon in the aisles of its 13 locations across Canada. That's partly because the imminent threat of the high-end chain wouldn't justify the financial hit of reacting with deep discounts, suggested Brynn Winegard, a marketing expert at Winegard and Company.

"Places like Loblaws, Sobeys and Longo's won't necessarily be able to afford that," she said.

"But what you will be looking at is a huge market play towards loyalty."

Winegard expects established chains to lean on their reputations – and points-redemption programs – in hopes of keeping customers from straying to competitors in the short term.

Expect better deals on taking home three bottles of spaghetti sauce instead of two, for example, and more appealing bonus point offers designed to get customers back into stores. Both are generally more affordable, and effective, strategies than deep cuts to a wide assortment of products.

Price wars have a long history of offering Canadian grocers little upside, especially if their profit margins are cut to the bone.......Canadian grocers are misdirecting their attention to storefronts, rather than establishing infrastructure that could go head-to-head in the digital world, Amazon's forte.

"Amazon certainly has the capacity, the capability and the website support to do this – the other stores, like Loblaw and Sobeys, aren't really there yet."
supermarkets  grocery  Loblaws  Sobeys  Longo's  Amazon  Whole_Foods  Canadian  price_wars  loyalty_management  oligopolies 
august 2017 by jerryking
Loblaw’s price war spreads through Canada’s grocery sector - The Globe and Mail
MARINA STRAUSS - RETAILING REPORTER
The Globe and Mail
Published Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016
Loblaws  cost-cutting  retailers  grocery  supermarkets  price_wars 
august 2016 by jerryking
Going small the best route for cash-rich Metro
January 30, 2013 | G & M pg. B2 |by Sophie Cousineau.

Metro is a great operator with an outstanding track record. Its first-quarter results, which on Tuesday reported first-quarter profit of $121.4­ mil1ion compared with $103.7 ­million in the year earlier period, prove it yet again. Yet the Quebec grocery chain has had it relatively easy in recent years. Its main competitor, Loblaw, was its own worst enemy, struggling with its merchandising and its computer systems. Metro dominates the Quebec market with an estimated market share among conventional food distributors.

But the market is changing. WalMart Canada is expanding unreand Target is emerging as a formidable foe from the ruins of Zellers. To say that the competition is heating up is an understatement. These American retailers are shaking a Tabasco bottle over the Quebec and Ontario markets, dotting these provinces with super-sized stores and bountiful grocery aisles.

Target is not considered as serious as a menace as Wal­Mart. Many of Target's stores are located in shopping malls where Metro has exclusivity rights on the sale of food. Wal-­Mart, which started sending out food flyers to Quebec homes, is another story.
But even with an acquisition as important and as as Safeway’s, Metro could never “outscale” or even come close to it. And while Metro has two discount banners. its namesake stores don"t venture into price wars nor would they want to
go on the American retailers' turi war. By putting the accent on the freshest fruits and vegetables and the best shopping experience, Metro is taking a different tack from its American competitors.
Getting scale in the pharmacy business would make a lot more sense for Metro. As a pharmaceutical distributor and a drugstore operator under the Brunet banner, Metro is a regional Quebec player. Yet for there to be an acquisition, Metro needs a seller. While Jean Coutu Group Inc. is aging, the Coutu family has nevel expressed the slightest interest ir selling the business they control through multiple voting shares. Moreover, they are focusing their energy on Canada after retreating from the American market.
supermarkets  mergers_&_acquisitions  M&A  retailers  price_wars  pharmacies  grocery  ethnic_communities  scaling  Jean_Coutu  Wal-Mart  Target  Metro  competitive_landscape  Sophie_Cousineau  merchandising  shopping_malls 
january 2013 by jerryking

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