Businesses capable of anticipating disruptive change are usually better placed to plan for the future. This means identifying and understanding the underlying macro trends that are shaking up the sector, and putting in place plans to mitigate or take advantage of a changing world.
“At Danone Specialized Nutrition, we take a future back approach to craft what we call a lighthouse, in order to give us a direction to build roadmaps,” explains Danjou. “Key questions we ask ourselves include: What value do we want to bring to society and to people, which will generate growth? Why is it relevant for our business to take this direction? And what could we do differently from the competition that will sustain or bring a competitive edge?”
Disrupting before being disrupted
To keep ahead of the curve, Danjou notes that it is critical for companies to deeply understand their business, as well as the competitive environment beyond their direct competitors. In practice, this means acknowledging key drivers of demand, and understanding what makes their business model successful.
“This is critical to maximise value today, but also to ensure that your business is future fit,” says Danjou. “In addition to identifying current drivers, it is important to build possible scenarios. This means examining the ‘what ifs’ - putting yourself in the mindset of a crisis or challenger, which will make you think differently about solutions and value creation.”
For Danjou, too many businesses have fallen by the wayside, precisely because they failed to anticipate and take action. They might have seen macro forces or technology shifts coming, but didn’t change in time. “It is hard to transition when your company or segment is in the ‘cash cow matrix’,” she acknowledges.
That said, there are companies that have successfully evolved their business model. “These include Nike, with direct-to-consumer sales reaching 37 % of their revenue, or Lego, which has reinvented itself through brand purpose, communities, and digital transformation. Those two companies have invested and kept consistency towards their goals over time.”
Getting ready for the future
At the Future of Nutrition Summit, Danjou intends to underline her belief that every business can access trends and take action. “What matters is curating and translating trends into business applications that are suitable in your playground,” she says. “It is also key to achieve a common understanding within your company of the forces in place. I strongly believe that constantly monitoring, and internalising this curation is a key factor to success, together with synchronizing your strategic planning processes.”
Danjou hopes that attendees to her presentation will feel a sense of urgency to act, and be convinced that the power of fact-based data and trends, common understanding and collective intelligence can lead to strategic directions for growth.
“There’s a lot happening in the nutrition space, with an acceleration of biotech solutions that offer opportunities to solve major world issues such as access to food or malnutrition. At the Summit, I expect to learn from others, and am looking forward to meeting industries and start-ups that are facing common challenges. I’m keen to learn about the solutions they have put in place, and think about possible applications or partnerships.”
Agathe Danjou will be speaking at the Future of Nutrition Summit, which will be held at Vitafoods Europe 2023 from 9 to 11 May in Geneva.