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50 Innovative Companies to Watch 2019

An Interview with ‘Win’ Weber, Winston Weber & Associates, Inc. Founder, Chairman, and CEO: ‘We are Recognized as Leading the Retail Industry in its Transformation to the New Beyond Category Management ‘Shopper-Centric Retailing’ Business Model’


“Our client experience includes retailers, consumer products companies, and B2B companies ranging from $100 million to over $70 billion in sales.”

The 2015 Food Marketing Institute (FMI), Winston Weber Associates (WWA), and Deloitte Consulting LLP Shopper-Centric Retailing study focuses on the gaps between merchandising practices common in today’s Consumer Package Goods (CPG) manufacturer-retail environment and the practices that can be applied for the industry to become more effectively shopper-focused.

In light of the foregoing, we’re thrilled to present Winston Weber & Associates, Inc.

WWA is a valuable resource to national and multinational consumer packaged goods manufacturers and retailers from the US, Canada, Mexico, Latin America, Europe, Australia, and Asia. It has a reputation for having an unparalleled understanding of the consumer packaged goods industry. The company’s areas of expertise include strategic direction, organization and business process design, customer alignment, category management to shopper insights transformation, marketing/merchandising, skills development, retailer operational efficiency, and shopping experience enhancement.

WWA was incorporated in 1985 and is headquartered in Tampa, Florida.

Winston ‘Win’ Weber, Winston Weber & Associates, Inc. Founder, spoke exclusively to The Silicon Review. Below is an excerpt.

Why was the company set up? And how did you expand your company and its offerings over the years?

As I had accomplished so much at such an early age, I decided to move beyond corporate life and working for a single corporation, to where I could contribute to the growth of many companies and also contribute to driving change throughout the consumer products industry. My goal has always been to have a global perspective and provide leadership thinking with practical, implementable solutions. We continue to employ a controlled growth strategy with an emphasis on providing more value and client ROI than very large consulting firms staffed mostly by junior consultants with minimal business experience and those loose consortium consultancies, staffed by independent contractors, who typically experience inconsistent quality control. More value and client ROI means an uncompromising emphasis on quality and trust.

This has enabled us to serve a highly diverse group of clients including retailers, consumer products companies and B2B companies ranging from $100 million to over $70 billion in sales. This includes national and multi-national corporations in over fifteen countries.

How do you stay relevant to the customer interests and needs in this highly volatile market?

Our key to staying relevant is to consistently offer a very attractive value proposition that differentiates us from others. This includes:

  • Our extensive experience with retailers, combined with our work with consumer products manufacturers at the strategic and operating levels, provides an unparalleled understanding of the inter-relationship between both partners
  • We provide only senior consultants with over 30 years of experience on all of our engagements… project staffing is not the typical ‘leverage’ model where less experienced consultants conduct the majority of engagement activities
  • We believe in building on client expertise, combined with our insights and expertise, to develop solutions that align with client cultures, operating philosophies and capabilities
  • We encourage clients to stretch thinking and desired outcomes beyond today’s ‘best practices’. We typically explore a world of new possibilities and develop breakthrough initiatives that will enable our clients to stay ‘ahead-of-the-game’
  • Our end-to-end process, from strategy through tactics to implementation, is a unique strength that ensures successful implementation of improvement initiatives and achievement of desired outcomes
  • Our project proposals include client investment transparency, a level of detail that enables prospective clients to understand each component of their proposed deliverables…it is very important to us that clients receive the highest return-on-their-investment

How often do you innovate? Is it only when there is a need in the market?

We try to stay ahead of the market in our areas of expertise. We are proud of the fact that we are viewed by many as the one consulting firm that truly demonstrates leading-edge thinking and a commitment to industry leadership.

Introduced Trading Partner Collaboration – We are credited with introducing the concept of retailer/supplier partnering to the grocery and chain drug channels in the mid-1980s. We later introduced the concept in Australia, Mexico and Asia. Since then we have evolved partnering to what we refer to today as strategic collaboration. Today we are recognized as the industry expert in this area.

Introduced Category Management – We introduced the concept of category management to the U.S. retailers in 1990 followed by retailers in Australia, Mexico, several Latin American countries, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan. Today, category management is worldwide across a number of trade channels.

Introducing the New Beyond Category Management-Centric Retailing Business Model – We are currently in the process of introducing the new Shopper-Centric Retailing business model that we developed with the support from the FMI and Deloitte Consulting. Shopper-Centric Retailing is an all-encompassing and transformative business model which focuses all functions within a retailer on increasing sales by exceeding shopper expectations. This means evolving beyond ingrained business policies and practices to a fully integrated top-down, cross-functional focus on the shopper, shopper solutions and enhancements to the shopping experience. Considering the fact that the grocery industry is experiencing the most dynamic change in decades with expanding food lifestyles, digital connectedness, social media, online shopping, delivery options and increasing generational complexities, this new business model provides the support necessary in today’s shopper-centric environment to deliver a sustainable incremental gain. It is expected to be a key contributor to industry growth by delivering customer satisfaction for years to come.

The new Shopper-Centric Retailing business model represents a major paradigm shift similar to what the industry experienced when we introduced category management to the U.S. market in 1990, a concept that has so many limitations; it is no longer viable in today’s marketplace.

Introducing the First Platform Designed for Retailers to Predict and Mitigate Out-of-Stock – We are currently introducing a cloud platform that uses AI and Machine Learning from POS and other data to generate growth by predicting and mitigating retailer out-of-stocks. This is a first for the grocery industry. We have proven that out-of-stocks, which have ranged from 8 to 10 percent for decades, can be reduced by approximately 50 percent, with sales growth in the 2 to 4 percent range.

Where do you see your company a couple of years from now?

We plan to continue to maintain our size as a small consulting firm to ensure we deliver beyond client expectations at all times. This has proven to be a very successful strategy over the years. Geographically, we plan to concentrate on both North and Latin America while expanding to more retail channels. We recently expanded our capability to capitalize on the growth potential offered by the expanding U.S. Hispanic market with the hiring of an expert with over 30 years of experience in seventeen Latin America countries.

Our commitment to consistently exceed client expectations and our ability to provide implementable solutions is what we are all about…we plan to continue to provide more value and client ROI than the typical consulting firm.

Winston ‘Win’ Weber: A Formidable Leader

Win Weber built an impressive record of achievement in the consumer products industry as a senior sales executive, rapidly progressing to the position of Sales VP by the time he was 32 years old. Beginning his career with Colgate Palmolive and General Foods, he later held Sales VP positions at Beechnut (Squibb) and Sunshine Biscuits (American Brands), Senior VP Sales at Atari, and President of  Sales for the  Drackett Products Company ( Bristol-Myers) followed by Schering Plough. 

Since entering management consulting 34 years ago, Mr Weber has consulted for consumer products manufacturers, retailers, wholesalers and industry associations. He has gained a worldwide reputation as one of the original architects of category management and an expert in translating the principles of category management from theory to practical application. Mr Weber, in collaboration with the FMI and Deloitte Consulting, recently introduced the new beyond category management business model referred to as Shopper-Centric Retailing. He is also credited for introducing the concept of retailer and supplier partnering 30 years ago. Today, he is highly regarded for his expertise in establishing collaborative relationships between retailers and suppliers.

Mr Weber is a member and former Chairman of the Board of Visitors, College of Arts and Sciences, Syracuse University, where he received a BA degree. He is also a member of the FMI, Industry Collaboration Council, and Promotion Optimization Institute (POI) Education Board.

"The new Shopper-Centric Retailing business model, with its core Shopper Solutions Planning process that focuses on merchandising solutions and the shopping experience, is a foundational requirement if retailers are to effectively earn shopper loyalty.”