Highlights and Key Takeaways from GrowthLab #17


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Pivoting in the New Normal with CIC

Breakthrough: Deepening our understanding of our stakeholders and our connection to them as we pivot our brick and mortar company into an e-commerce powerhouse.

Concepcion Industrial Corporation (CIC) is a brick and mortar company that has experienced over 60 years of success in selling appliances to retailers, but now CIC has been disrupted immensely by the pandemic and the lockdowns. Having been appointed recently as Head of E-Commerce for CIC, I now have the great challenge of pivoting the company towards the New Normal.

E-Commerce is not just a pivot. At the end of the day, the tech side is an enabler, but the commerce business model is more important – to be in charge of e-commerce today is to be in charge of business in the future.

Having attended Ignite sessions in the past, I have been able to apply what I’ve learned to my own case. I very much live and breathe Ignite’s practices, and it has helped me and my team come up with some promising ideas.

Our pivot involves the transition from a business-to-business approach to a business-to-customer approach. Before, we sold to retailers such as SM, Robinson, Abenson, and the like but transitioning online requires more direct transactions with individual customers. But even after 60 years, we don’t know who our true customers are – we’re not used to now being in charge of the customers themselves.

This pivot has been very challenging: how do we change our mindset from caring about efficiency and numbers to focusing now on the customers and making them the center of our universe? It’s easy to say but very hard to do and it’s taking us out of our comfort zone

Our most ambitious and important initiative that we have for our e-commerce pivot is our ConceptStore is designed to ease the burdens of your life in the New Normal and of being at home 24/7. Its punchline is to ‘live the possibilities,’ so our intent is to also provide customers with self-sufficiency in case of future lockdowns. In other words, we want to sell products that make their lives at home easier, especially in terms of cleaning or cooking. For example, instead of relying on ordering food for delivery, customers can use our high-quality products to cook high-quality meals themselves.

Product sourcing and picking the right products have been challenging for us. We’ve always been configured for volume, but this pivot forces us to take care of one customer at a time. We’re used to handling larger equipment like air conditioners and refrigerators that were delivered by the truckloads. But now you have a customer that orders a small coffee maker and wants it delivered right away making our big trucks and warehouses useless. The shift from business-to-business to business-to-customer is hard to adjust to , we’re now earning 2,000 pesos per transaction, whereas before we were earning 20,000 pesos per transaction.

The silver lining is that unlike Lazada and Shopee, we’re based in the Philippines. They might have difficulties delivering, but we have an established network here that can guarantee products are delivered in a timely fashion. With our strengths in distribution, we’re ensuring that it’s a customer game not a tech game. That’s where they get it wrong – we’ve come to play, focusing on the customer.



Sometimes, even if we think that we have figured it all out, there will still be another layer of creating deeper and deeper connections with our customers. Humans are complex beings. Our needs and wants change all the time. Therefore, if we are really serious in creating an impact, it is going to be a lifelong journey of constantly figuring out how to keep this love affair with our stakeholders burning.


It’s amazing to see Concepcion Industrial Corporation pivot in the way that it has. The idea of not letting a good crisis go to waste is so compelling. As Mike said, when lockdowns are lifted, who will be ready? Concepcion has shown that it will remain on top of its game because of its commitment to innovation and developing deeper connections with their customers.


Asking-to-Learn vs. asking to get answers – I think this is what the world needs to learn especially during these difficult times. People tend to ask questions just for the sake of asking or getting information. And madalas, kapag di convenient yung data na nakukuha nila, they tend to disregard that information. This mentality hinders innovation and growth. We have to be like an inquisitive child, always asking to learn the whys and how-tos of things.


Whatever system or business model that thrives and establishes itself during this ‘new normal’ is the business model of the future. Don’t let a good crisis go to waste! Lot’s of opportunities here, and it all begins by asking the real questions.


Instead of dwelling with the problems with this pandemic, CIC used this as an opportunity to innovate. They proactively pivoted their products based on consumers behaviour. Shaking their very core, and doing innovation to adapt to the new normal. Not all companies have this mindset, and I think that’s the reason why some companies became obsolete during the crisis.


Ask-to-learn in order to figure out what the most relevant questions are.


Leverage on delivering what the customers wants, desires, and needs.



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