The world has changed a lot since Steve Perez founded beverage manufacturer Global Brands in 1997. Woolworths was the jewel of the highstreet, an MP3 was something that would take another 10 years to disrupt the CD market and "face book" was just something that happened if you tried to read Moby Dick past 12am.
While the fortunes of one UK retail's most iconic names and the world's biggest social media platform have differed somewhat in the intervening 22 years, Global Brands has built a strong reputation for bringing successful products to market. Its 17 ranges now sell in 55 countries around the world, including its own independent hotel.
Perez credits the company’s success as being down to a continual ability to quickly spot and jump on emerging trends, something he admits has got more challenging as the pace of change has accelerated.
Now that he’s "62 and certainly not the target market" of students and late night venues, he relies on a team of beady-eyed, in-the-know employees to spot the next big thing coming over the horizon. He says his job now is to be open-minded and create the enviroment for ideas to spread.
"We have weekly sales and marketing meetings and fit as many employees as we can into the room. It’s not just senior people, but all of the junior marketers as well.
"All I’m looking for is ideas - any ideas - so I try to make it a relaxed atmosphere and keep a fairly loose agenda. There’s value in just encouraging people to come out with any whacky suggestion. If everybody is having a laugh about something, it is more relaxed and people are more prepared to contribute.
"One of the best examples is our All ShockUp passion fruit martini, which was suggested by one of the younger members of my team and went on to be the most successful launch in that category Tesco had ever had.
"Occasionally somebody might come out with something that is inappropriate because of alcohol legislation. It might be funny, but we have to market our brands responsibly. It’s great to have a bit of a laugh about it, but you do have to set loose boundaries and have gatekeepers to stop it getting out of hand.
"The majority of our products are based on people going out and enjoying themselves so we need to create that atmosphere in the office. Of course we do have customer focus groups, but I don't really think we should be having them because we should know our market."
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