Marketing will ‘abandon’ procurement function

Marketing procurement will “abandon” the procurement function and move fully into marketing, according to Gerry Preece, former global director of marketing and media sourcing and operations at Procter & Gamble.

Preece, who is the author of Buying Less for Less, was speaking at the ProcureCon Marketing conference in London.

He said that marketing procurement was “screaming to become its own long-term career path” and the procurement function had done a “lousy” job of developing and supporting it.

He predicted that marketing procurement would instead move into the marketing function and change its name to “marketing investment management”.

“Procurement will be fired by us,” he said. “This has to happen, otherwise we are at procurement 1.0 and our time will be limited.”

Preece added that those marketing procurement professionals stuck at 1.0 would likely be out of a job as business leaders look for ways to drive value and innovation as much as cost savings. Pepsico’s decision to get rid of its marketing procurement function in 2015 was likely to be the “first of many more yet to come”, he predicted.

This is because marketing is a complex and evolving area that needs to be managed in a different way when it comes to procurement, he said, citing a focus on quality and the impact cost reduction can have on creative output.

“Marketing procurement should be trying to maximise an investment,” Preece said. “Every time we fiddle with the price, we are fiddling with the quality.”

In terms of the skills the marketing procurement professional of the future will need, he cited business mindset, the ability to analyse ROI and general management skills. “Marketing is going to be more complex and dynamic than we have seen,” he said. “We can’t just parachute in skills last minute or for the short-term.”

Speaking on a panel, category lead agencies (EMEA) at Johnson & Johnson Sarah Swaney agreed the backgrounds of those coming into marketing procurement were changing.

“There’s been a shift in the way job specs are written,” she said. “It’s more about marketing and it’s easier to teach [procurement skills] than the other way around. It’s a good sign if the procurement function is appealing to marketers.” 

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