Last night, Annie's Homegrown CEO John Foraker spoke at Bryant University. He gave a terrific presentation about his firm's strategy, growth, and commitment to social responsibility. I found John's comments about values to be very interesting. He talked about how Annie's values were not written down when he joined the firm. He had not seen the merits of writing down a firm's mission and values in his prior jobs, but at Annie's, he found it invaluable. He described how the explicit statement of values really helped the firm identify who should be hired at Annie's, as well as what strategic options should be rejected because they did not fit with the values.
John also spoke about Annie's decision to expand beyond the organic/natural food channel. He noted that firms have to be very careful when making that leap to other channels such as club stores, mainstream grocery, etc. Conflicts can arise, and firms can lose their core base of customers if they are rejected by that original channel in which they excelled. John explained that Annie's took special care of its original organic/natural food channel partners such as Whole Foods. They worked to develop new and unique products for those partners. That special attention proves critical, particularly since the organic/natural channel proves ideal for many of the new product innovations that Annie's continues to bring to market. Too many firms make the mistake of simply offering the same products and services across all channels. For some companies, they find themselves ultimately rejected by some of their original channel partners, and the damage to the brand can be immense.
Thank you, John, for spending the evening with us last night!