Active International Head of Commercial Cameron Baxter discusses his recent appointment and the evolution of corporate trade in Australia.
You have been recently appointed the new Head of Commercial, and you have been with the business for over 7 years. What are the highlights in your Active career so far and what are the key learnings working with a global business?
Seven years is certainly a long time to work in a business these days but there is a good reason. Active International has been awarded as one of the Best Places to Work 2021 by AFR Boss and has received similar awards in other countries we operate in such as the UK, France and Canada. I feel privileged to be part of global organisation that values and empowers its employees. We have many talented executives across our offices who have achieved an extraordinary career within the business. Most recently, Cameron Swan, who helped build our Australian business, moved to London to take on the role of Managing Director in our UK office. Active is renowned for its leadership culture and for harnessing talent by offering opportunities for employees for ongoing development and growth within the business.
What excites me in my role, is that every day is different; it presents new opportunities and the challenge to provide our clients with business solutions that go beyond solving a problem, creating real value for their business.
For me, the value we bring to businesses is the ultimate highlight. We see clients who benefited from our corporate trade model, come back for more. They utilise our model for the 2nd and 3rd time, realising the value of our proposition. A good example is a client that partnered with us about seven years ago – currently in our 6th trade deal – they have received over $400,000 in additional value to date.
Our experienced commercial team puts our corporate trade model to work combining our global remarketing network and our buying power of advertising media, to create real value and help businesses bounce back, become profitable again and restore value otherwise lost.
That is a real highlight, every time we trade. And I can tell you this: beyond the financial benefit, it is also utterly satisfying to see businesses we work with succeed.
Can you describe the current Grocery & Instore Media landscape, what are the challenges they face and what’s your advice for brands to stay competitive?
The grocery landscape has been unpredictable for the last 12-18mths. At the very start of the pandemic, changing consumer behaviour and panic buying were affecting the market. We literally saw key staple products fly off the shelves and others pile up. Supply chain processes are being disrupted. Snap lockdowns and boarder closures triggering panic-buying impacts major retailers who are already struggling to return stock levels to normal.
Our media owner partners across the ‘in store’ and ‘path to purchase’ display media, saw campaigns been moved or cancelled, and it took a while to see this come back to normality.
This year, however, we have seen some normality and clients have adapted and planned for potential lockdowns as well as the media landscape has certainly stabilised and seen demand grow.
Corporate trade (barter) has been around for decades. What do you think makes this business offering so attractive and in what ways can it be best applied?
Corporate Trade is a smart business model that allows businesses to achieve more with their existing products, assets or services. But the real benefit of corporate trade is that it offers flexibility and provides a number of options to brands who seek to increase profitability and improve their bottom line.
Our business model offering is compelling to clients that either have current excess stock piling up in their warehouse or their client logistic systems are forecasting potential issues 6-9 months in advance. In this instance, we simply restore value to a client’s balance sheet on stock that is otherwise cleared via clearance retailers and the return would be lower than required or unsatisfactory. We see our corporate trade model deliver 3-4x return – an unmatched value.
This model can also be applied to clients who don’t have excess stock. We work in similar ways with first line product to deliver a strong ROI to clients’ media investment. Our buying power helps us create the value we utilise in return to solve our clients’ problem.
Active International brings together brands, their media agencies and media owners to create value through corporate trade. Can you explain how this happens?
Best practice is having all key stakeholders in the room when discussing with our client. Even though the business model itself is simple, it is the team collaboration and transparency that makes this happen to deliver the value to clients.
For example, our media team, led by Head of Media Andrew Rogers, work closely with a client’s media agency, who independently manage the client media component (strategy, planning & buying) to include Active’s business model in their media bookings to deliver real value back to the client with corporate trade.
As I explained earlier, this is made possible with Active’s unique buying power of media space which in turn provides a mutual benefit to all parties with no disruption to the media agency’s negotiation.
It is a full circle to deliver the value back to the client.
What if a client doesn’t work with a media agency and prefers to book their own advertising. Can Active still deliver value with media?
Short answer is yes. This can be achieved in two ways.
Firstly, our media team can work closely with the client’s marketing team to educate on how our model works and ways they can access that extra value.
Secondly, we have our own media agency offering to offer clients. We acquired Involved Media in 2019 in order to enrich our capabilities for clients with no media agency. Involved (formally known as Paykel Media) is an independent media agency that provides brands with strategy and planning expertise and a strong media advertising execution that delivers tangible results.
We are excited to be able to offer this service to those clients, who do not have a media agency but wish to have a strong strategy and execution for their media, gain access to insights and marketing intelligence as well as the benefits of Active International’s trading model without the hassle of having an agency. I believe it is a powerful partnership that unlocks endless opportunities for any business wanting to grow.
Lastly, Active has been very helpful to brands who were impacted by the pandemic and the market’s unpredictability. How do you see this evolve post-pandemic?
Predictions on life post-pandemic are endless. As a result of the pandemic, we’ve seen many clients change their production methods. We now receive less and less large ‘one-off’ excess stock parcels as a result.
What’s exciting is that now clients see Active as a sales partner with long-term benefits. We are no-longer a ‘short fix’ option for clients who can move a huge ‘one off’ batch of excess stock. Of course, there will be the odd occasion where a new product launch hasn’t gone to plan or there is a packaging error that requires a quick result; in such instances we still provide a solution to resolve this unforeseen circumstance.
I believe in the power of partnerships. The results are clear, and the benefits are real. I’m excited to see more and more clients looking to partner with us to enhance, empower and seamlessly complement their current strategy.