Collaboration, collaboration, collaboration!

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Retailers, particularly supermarkets, are notoriously protective of their data, marketing and advertising plans and strategy developments, but sustainability appears to be one area where collaboration is more welcome.

Sainsbury’s has worked closely with Unilever and Forum for the Future on the development of a new “open source” platform designed to help consumer goods companies, including direct rivals, develop mainstream sustainability initiatives that are profitable and good for business.

Retailers battle non-stop over price, but it’s a very different matter when it comes to sustainability, when organisations that would normally rather sacrifice their young than share knowledge are more than happy to compare notes and see what works both for the greater good and for business growth.

The P&G’s and Unilever’s of this world, the Tesco’s and Sainsbury’s, have very obvious reasons to play their cards close to their chest on some levels, price being one of those. But on other matters it makes perfect sense to collaborate and pool information and best practice.

The Consumer Futures report will be available to all online, meaning that Tesco and Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons could all potentially be singing from the same hymn sheet when it comes to planning their business for consumers’ future needs.

Some businesses, however, no names mentioned, take the view that they don’t want to share what they are doing with their competitors. This however is to the detriment of marketing and business.

Sometimes being precious about what you as a business are doing, means ruling yourself out of conversations that could be invaluable to the long term health of your business.

It’s much the same as a scholar looking to learn and improve, but not talking to a teacher or fellow student to develop ideas. If you only ever consult yourself, you will think you have learned all there is to know and will continue to do things in the same way, and that is not good for business.

Marketing Week’s editor Mark Choueke also wrote this week about collaboration between businesses following the news that Heineken, Aviva and O2 are working together to share knowledge to improve their marketing capability.

These companies have realised that while they work in completely different sectors that have very different demands, they share the same consumers and have to respond to the same changing behaviours and needs.

Aviva, O2 and Heineken have all realised that there is much they could learn from each other and more benefit in coming together than in working secretly behind closed doors.

Bravo, and let’s see more of it.

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