While a startup is focused on shaping an opportunity and bringing it to life, as the organization grows, its leadership needs to define a strategic arena that guides decisions on how it competes in its industry and creates value for its targeted markets. An organization defines this arena through a balance of the unique capabilities it builds and its ability to differentiate itself in its competitive environment. This balance then guides decisions about how the company markets and sells its products and about which opportunities it pursues in expanding its business.
The impact of Stonyfield Farm's strategic focus can be seen in many aspects of its business. Stonyfield positioned itself as producing high-end yogurt products with quality, natural ingredients. It first sold its product through natural food and specialty stores, building a plant to better control its supply of hormone-free milk. The firm's marketing consisted of developing awareness and word of mouth by educating consumers about the quality of the product, promoting the company's social and environmental mission, and building a loyal following through plant tours, newsletters, and other customer relationship—focused programs. Stonyfield introduced new yogurt flavors, low-fat yogurt, and frozen yogurt. Its strategic focus shaped its distribution, manufacturing, marketing, and product development activities.
Gary Hirshberg, founder of Stonyfield Farm.
A focused strategy in early growth helps ...