ESSEN - Cooking is Good for You
In March 2016, Wilder Jr., CMO at ESSEN, Argentina's leading aluminum cookware manufacturer, with a direct selling scheme and a 70% household penetration, faced a dilemma: the company needed to choose whether to launch the online DTC channel. As the CMO, and the founder's son, he wanted to start with specific initiatives to revamp ESSEN's distribution system, shifting from a single-channel to a multi- or omni-channel scheme. To this end, he needed to carefully consider the arguments made at the latest family-business Board meeting, chaired by his father and ESSEN's founder, Mr. Wilder Sr., to delve deeper in the analysis prepared by his team. To make matters worse, Maria Perez, the company's leading sales rep (the most active freelance entrepreneur and Network leader), whose sales organization accounted for over 15% of ESSEN's overall sales, had clearly stated that she would walk out if she "saw a shopping cart in the company's website." Meanwhile, sales reps were already using multiple channels (including online channels) to reach consumers (who largely belonged to low-income segments), even though the company did not support these methods. The time had come for a new change, but how should it unfold, and how should the company roll it out across its 13,000-member sales reps network, composed mostly by women who depend on the sale of ESSEN products to make ends meet? The "going online" decision involved both a channel conflict and a huge social responsibility concern. This was because it could affect its foundational commercial pivot, its sales force, made up of freelance entrepreneurs, mostly women. After analyzing all data and perspectives, Wilder Jr. had identified four possible alternatives. It was necessary to evaluate these alternatives and the way in which possible channel conflicts could be handled, this before making a final decision and presenting it at the next monthly meeting. However, Wilder Jr. still wondered: How to move the company to the digital channels without affecting its core business and, at the same time, driving sustainable brand growth with social impact?