Amazon and Whole Foods, CVS and Aetna, and now Nestle and Starbucks. 2018 has proven to be a big year for major mergers so far. Mergers are commonplace in the business world, but yet the introduction of one can be incredibly worrisome and sometimes even off putting to a customer. According to a KPMG study, 83% of mergers do not boost shareholder returns, and many actually end up harming the overall brand. One of the best ways to ensure a successful merger is to create a 100 day plan that encompasses a defined marketing strategy.
As part of a defined marketing strategy, companies need to set up a proposal for how they will convey the news to the three major groups. These three major groups are current customers, Prospective Customers and Individuals currently attached to any ongoing deals, including shareholders and employees. With all of these groups, the number one rule is to be open about the relationship between the company and the newly acquired brand.
In order to create a successful marketing strategy, it is important to be aware of the market perceptions of the merger and the two brands individually. In order to successfully blend the two brands, it needs to be shown that no company values or heritage will be lost. Many clients as well as employees are drawn to a brand and stay with a brand because of what it represents. According to a study done by Alliance Data, over 50% of millennials say they will rarely purchase something different, if they already like a brand. This means that companies who merge need to prove that the only changes that will be made will somehow benefit the consumer.
Addressing the consumers is one major hurdle, but the second is addressing current employee concerns as well. Have a strong and clear leadership team is incredibly important at this time and everyone in director roles should be briefed and on boarded before the rest of the company is made aware of any changes. A strong and united front will create less chance for misinformation and also generate less apprehension from the rest of the company.
It is also important that employees are made to feel secure and as though they are part of this next chapter. One great way to go about this is to host an internal launch party. This not only a great way to boost company moral, but it also brings people together and gets them excited for the future of the brand. A recent study done by the Nielsen Global Online Consumer Survey found that 90% of consumers trust recommendations from people they know, which shows the importance of happy employees who will strongly advocate for the company they work for.
A new merger is an exciting time full of potential and opportunity. While there are some potential hurdles to overcome, it is important to show the public, as well as the rest of the company, a united front between the two companies and the strength of the combination.