PepsiCo’s ‘Performance with Purpose’ Corporate and Employee Goals. Great, But……


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…….What About ‘Performance with Employee Purpose, Commitment and Passion for Customer Value Delivery’? It seems to be MIA (missing in action).

Since becoming PepsiCo’s CEO in 2006, Indra Nooyi has brought a number of significant changes to what had been a very traditional, though major, worldwide CPG company. Nooyi has, for example, acknowledged that sugar, as base for many PepsiCo products, is contributing to obesity and other health problems in the U.S. She has focused on building the brand portfolio by adding healthier, nutritionally positive, ‘Good For You’ products. This includes oatmeal and juices, from acquired subsidiaries Quaker and Tropicana. By 2013, PepsiCo had become the world’s second largest food and beverage company, with over 3 billion people a year using their products. Financially, the company is doing well.

Along the way – in 2012 – and, ‘after consultation with a diverse group of stakeholders in order to focus on the issues that are of importance to our stakeholders, communities, and business’, Nooyi introduced PepsiCo’s ‘Performance with Purpose’, a corporate operational manifesto and set of three pillars for PepsiCo employees:

– Human Sustainability – providing a wide range of goods and beverages, from treats to health choices, reducing levels of fats, sodium, and added sugars; expanding the product portfolio to provide consumers with more convenience

– Environmental Sustainability – finding innovative ways to cut costs and minimize impact on the environment, through energy and water conservation and reduction of packaging volume

– Talent Sustainability – investing in associates to help them succeed, provide a safe and inclusive workplace, and respecting, supporting, and investing in the local communities where the company has operations.

In this recent video interview, Nooyi explained her business philosophy, including ‘Performance with Purpose’, as follows: The discussion of ‘Performance with Purpose’ comes at about the 18 minute mark.

PepsiCo’s/Nooyi’s three element employee and strategic program is largely consistent with key precepts of engagement. It has lofty ideals with regard to product performance, the organizational operating footprint, and employee respect and development. Beyond focus on nutrition, however, where are statements of customer value provision by employees in all of this? Well, though maybe it is assumed, perceived value delivery is not mentioned at all. So, ‘Performance with Purpose’ could potentially benefit by being more effective as a device for optimizing, and concentrating, employee energy and resources in statements of stronger individual commitment, focus and passion, especially as regards PepsiCo customer value provision. Then, it might be relabeled as ‘Performance with Purpose, Passion, and Commitment to Customer Value Delivery’.

Some employee engagement consultants and HR professionals might believe that the pillars of ‘Performance with Purpose’ are deliberately more limited, subjective and abstract because PepsiCo is a mass seller of beverages and snacks. Maybe that was true in the pre-digital past where communication with CPG customers was only from the inside-out, but not today. Employees expect, and desire, to interact, and to be more committed to each other and to customers.

As my colleague Colin Shaw has written: “Great customer experiences are enabled through inspirational leadership, an empowering culture, and empathetic people who are happy and fulfilled.” We might add “…people who are innovative, motivated, proactive, and empowered.”

PespsiCo has inspirational leadership. It has a positive culture and strong values for company employees. Even given that this is a classic CPG company, there is added benefit to be gained from (and for) its 300,000 global employees on behalf of the customer, and where the next stage of corporate performance will come. From my perspective, a further iteration of the ‘Performance with Purpose’ program would be considerably more energized, real-world, contemporary, and customer-centric if painted as a functioning landscape which has richer colors, to reflect the broader, more focused and connected, and more contributory role of employees in providing customer value:

Michael Lowenstein, PhD CMC
Michael Lowenstein, PhD CMC, specializes in customer and employee experience research/strategy consulting, and brand, customer, and employee commitment and advocacy behavior research, consulting, and training. He has authored seven stakeholder-centric strategy books and 400+ articles, white papers and blogs. In 2018, he was named to CustomerThink's Hall of Fame.


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