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The man who doesn’t miss a beat in CPG

As a CPG strategist, Till knows the industry landscape and realigns the market strategy to the latest consumer tempo.

We hear you used to be a DJ?

How did you find out about that [laughs]? This is something that I picked up before going to university. I was interested in house music as a hobby, then I started spinning records at home and people started paying me for it, but it never got really serious. I still have my turntable and records.

What sparked your interest in the CPG industry?

I started at Accenture in 2001 working in the retail and travel industries. After my first CPG project, I never looked back. I find it a fascinating industry. It’s real—it’s brands. I like high-quality products, I’m a consumer of them. And I find it great to help clients achieve high performance: I can actually see the result in the marketplace.

Describe the best and worst experience you have had with a CPG company as a consumer.

We’re coming into an age where CPG companies can achieve true consumer intimacy, and I truly appreciate it when a company is able to tailor my experience to my particular needs. In terms of a bad experience, I find it frustrating when I go on a company’s website or app and the transition to purchase isn’t seamless or when the mobile execution lags the in store experience. I find that unacceptable.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

“Never assume anything.” I still make that mistake—even though I got that advice early in my career. I also think it’s important to manage expectations and trust my instinct.

What are you seeing today that will possibly shape the CPG industry?

One key trend is that the world is not a dual-shaped economy—it’s multi-tiered. As a CPG company, you can’t just have one approach globally, one standard model. You need to have a tailored approach. I see digital also becoming increasingly important. Most are dabbling, but it hasn’t been a burning platform for them.

Other trends relate to the aging population and emerging market middle class. How will companies manage their aging workforce and the ‘over 50’s’ consumer segment? How will they capture the next billion consumers entering the middle class in emerging markets?

What are the implications of these trends on CPG companies?

Operating models need to be more agile. Companies need to tailor how they go to market in the different regions, tailoring to local conditions to meet a diverse set of needs. Many CPG companies are operating in up to 200 countries. Tailoring the approach to these often very different markets is key to success. Market archetypes are one way to do this.

What is a market archetype?

A market archetype is a cluster of markets not grouped by geography but by its characteristics. It recognizes the fact that not all markets are the same, but also that there are significant similarities across specific markets in the world. Characteristics could include, for example, whether you work with distributors or go direct to retailers in that market. Is it one channel or multiple? How digitally enabled is the market? Is it organized trade or more traditional trade? Once the characteristics are defined and the markets grouped, the next step is to identify the commercial capabilities required to succeed in each market, develop capabilities for these archetypes and then deploy at speed to achieve a sustainable competitive advantage.

How successful have CPG companies been with this strategy so far?

Some companies like the concept, but are not able to come up with market archetypes. It’s not easy. You need to find the right balance between scale and agility and tailor it to local markets. For instance, Africa and India have commonalities; therefore some of the learnings and capabilities developed in India could be taken to some of the sub-Saharan markets. Same goes for Turkey and Brazil. Teams can develop capabilities in one market, and quickly deploy in the other.

Would the market archetype concept have been relevant for you as a DJ?

Well, I did tailor my playlist according to my audience. Most think a DJ has mixing skills, but that’s more what a musician does. A DJ has skill at finding the right music for the right audience. You can’t just play a mixtape at a party. If you want people to dance, you need to tailor your approach and be agile enough to adapt to your audience.

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