How do you put snap back into a sagging brand? With relentless focus on innovation. Michael Weinstein and his colleagues bought Snapple from Quaker Oats for $300 million. “We tried to create an atmosphere that was fun and timely,” he says. “We introduced our first new product two weeks after we bought the company. That’s fast.” In 2000, Cadbury Schweppes bought Snapple for $1 billion. Today, Weinstein is president of global innovation at Cadbury.
CEO, Snapple Beverage Group Inc.
White Plains, New York
FROM MICHAEL’S ORIGINAL ENTRY:
Describe one or more of your core leadership principles.
To enact major change or create a turnaround, a leader must be prepared to get out in front of the team and outline his/her vision in as personal manner as possible. That means connecting on an individual level with as many people as possible making sure that they believe that you believe in where you’re headed.
Show us your leadership in action: a decision that you made, a situation in which you led and that put your principles to the test.
We acquired Snapple from Quaker Oats in 1997 for $300 million, 2 ½ years after they had purchased it for $1.7 Billion. We inherited a brand in a deep sales slide (-20% annually) and a demoralized organization. At that time Snapple was 6 times the size of our company but only 2 Snapple headquarters personnel from Chicago chose to join the new team in New York While few outsider observers believed a small beverage company competing with Coke and Pepsi and with a new team could turn Snapple around, we outlined a strategy and vision of success that the entire organization could rally around.
Describe the biggest obstacle you were up against.
The biggest obstacle we faced was the skepticism by our distributors and retailers that Snapple could ever be viable again. It was a commonly held belief that once a beverage brand declined, it could never be revived. I spent many hours meeting with distributors, showing them our broad array of new products, new advertising and new promotion initiatives. I also met with many retailers to try to convince them to buy next year’s “styles” (like a clothing buyer) rather than rely on last year’s results (which were dismal) to determine shelf sets.
Document the results of your leadership style.
Business results rapidly showed a remarkable turnaround. Within one year, Snapple was showing renewed strong volume and profit growth which continued for several years. Consumer, distributor and retailer confidence in the brand soared and in 2000, Cadbury Schweppes purchased Snapple in a deal valued at around $1 Billion. And more important than building a brand, we built a great company with strong values led by a dedicated group of talented managers who were passionate about the company and about success. We breathed life into our mission–“We Make Beverages Exciting.”