Chris Peddy | Crain's

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Chris Peddy

Background:  

Mast-Jägermeister​ is a German company best known for producing Jägermeister, an internationally acclaimed brand of liqueur. Peddy was appointed chief marketing officer at Jägermeister​ US seven months ago and is currently working on relaunching the brand to appeal to millennials of legal drinking age. 

The Mistake:

It goes back 20 years. I was the brand manager at Altoids, “The Original Celebrated Curiously Strong Mints.” I managed it for over the course of about eight or nine years. I felt like we grew too fast, got a little greedy and got used to double digit growth while we should have been looking at more long-term, single-digit organic growth. One of the ways we got a little greedy was we started launching way too many new products.

It was both internal and external. Internally, we used a lot of resources launching new products and I feel like in retrospect they could have been used better elsewhere, just in terms of prioritization and focus. And then externally, some of the products didn’t do too well. I feel like if we had been patient and launched our new products every couple of years versus trying to launch new products every year, we would have been more successful.

We started off when we extended the brand to new flavors. We launched wint-o-green, cinnamon, spearmint, ginger and licorice. Those were all fine. But then we decided to extend into other breath freshening categories. We launched a strips product just because Listerine had launched their strips. Then we launched a gum in a number of different flavors including fruit flavors. Then we decided to launch a chocolate-dipped Altoid. And from there on in, we were just getting overly excited about the potential. But once we launched the chocolate-dipped Altoid, I think that’s when I realized we had gone a little too far.

Once we launched the chocolate-dipped Altoid, ... I realized we had gone a little too far.

The Lesson:

My lesson learned, particularly on innovation, is to really be patient and make sure you’re in tune with the consumer and your customer. Just be very careful and patient and strategic. And be happy with single-digit growth—don’t try to launch new items every single year. That was something I felt was really relative to Jagermeister since we’re [currently] relaunching this brand to a new generation of consumers. We just have to be very thoughtful and strategic and patient with how we do it and how we look at extending the trademark and building out the brand for consumers.

I’m keeping my lessons from Altoids in the back of my head [at Jagermeister] to be very smart and strategic with where we go next. Internally, we have to be careful with how we leverage and utilize our resources. If you’re going to commit resources to a project, between people and money, you want to make sure you’re making the right bets, you do the proper research and you watch it with the right spending behind it to make sure consumers understand the proposition.

Follow Jagermeister on Twitter at @JagermeisterUSA

Photo courtesy of Chris Peddy

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