"Cannibalism Indigestion"

Cannibalism is on the rise around the world. There is evidence of it everywhere… in retail, services, finance, manufacturing, rural, technology, media and even in mining.

It’s dog eat dog.

With offers of 50% off retail and up to 5 years interest free, the behaviour of some is rabid.

The small but rapidly growing drift to online sales is indicative of a broader and deeper evolving trend. In a period of stagnate, if not declining sales, the incremental factor of online sales is further evidence that the broader retail sector is cannibalising itself. Significantly, the increasing use and influence of the internet is not generating more sales. In most, if not all cases, it is simply redistributing the sales and market shares. This is accelerating the importance of cost and overhead reductions.

A widening acceptance of the theories of Charles Darwin may be appropriate, with implied endorsement of the need for structural change, and fast.

Indigestion in a number of sectors will soon become apparent to the marketplace and consumers as the acquiring entities are made to swallow many rationalisations and consolidations of businesses, brands, products and services.

Absorbing, integrating and in some instances dispelling cultures will be difficult. And one is not talking of yoghurt. The dominant force in those scenarios will inevitably emerge with enhanced returns, market presence and positioning.

A growing number of astute business leaders are dedicating resources to the identification and analysis of opportunities for mergers, acquisitions and strategic alliances with competitors, substitutes and potential collaborators. For others the need to address the issues of exit strategies and succession plans have become paramount.

The risk profiles associated with such initiatives can be and often are less than business development strategies which involve increased capital expenditure, larger advertising and marketing budgets and expanded inventories.

Capitalising upon and realising the potential will be dependant upon business owners, leaders and managers being objective, detached and strategic in their evaluations of the propositions. Territorialism and unwarranted self-interest defensiveness will be both unfortunate and inappropriate.

The current market circumstances are unique. Projections of outcomes which are based on history and past experiences may have little relevance.

Certainly, middle ranking executives will be among the sacrificial lambs. However, it will be the senior positions that will be thinned, in some instances aggressively.

Stronger leadership will evolve and will be valued by financiers, analysts, suppliers, associates, clients and consumers.

Fragmentation and replication, which have been characteristics of many market places during the past decade, will decline. This will provide for scope and flexibility for business owners and managers to more effectively promote, position and utilise brand marketing principles to secure and sustain market advantage.

During periods of volatility, clients and customers seek out the reassurance of recognisable and trusted brands. As a consequence, advertising messages for brand leaders will be more penetrable and effective. Advertising expenditure can then be reasonably reduced, and a greater concentration of the media utilised be effected.

In short, marketing initiatives will be more effective, and efficient, for some.

It is reasonable to expect that these projections will materialise over a period of 18 to 36 months. After that, most growth will be organic as individual brands, departments and franchise operations recognise and pursue unfulfilled potential.

For many of those talented senior people who will be deemed to be casualties of the cannibalistic processes, the scope and temptation will be to exploit their creative and entrepreneurial skills and experiences.

And so from 2011, as the credit crisis retreats, confidence and trust emerges and the true nature of capitalism will come to the fore, a new generation of “start-up” businesses will assert its presence.

The huge amounts of capital within sovereign funds and superannuation accounts will quickly recognise the talent, potential and scope for growth within these entities, which are or will be led by strong, experienced and enthusiastic but previously misplaced and displaced business professionals.

Survival today and in the immediate future will be enjoyed by those who are the fastest, fittest and most determined. (The Olympic spirit transcends all boundaries)

Strong corporate cultural bonds will enhance resilience, flexibility and responsiveness.

Cannibalism need not and should not be evident with the ranks.