As we begin 2012, being open to change is totally “kosher.” Talk to Manischewitz. Oy!

Manishchewitz. The tried and true American Kosher brand for 120+ years.  If you are an American Jew, the brand is a constant symbol of kosher food for the Passover holiday, offering the basic staples of matzo, sweet red wine, and macaroons. It is the marketing equivalent of the “one trick pony”: one product set for one consumer type. Adjectives such as “innovative”, “bold” and “risk-taking” would never have been associated with this sleepy brand.  But even Manishchewitz can show some swagger.

The New York Times, “After 123 Years, Manischewitz Creates Kosher Food for Gentiles,” on December 26, 2011, reports that Manischewitz actually will be innovating products for gentiles.  From 2003 to 2010, there has been a 41% sales growth in the kosher food category, and the category is expected to grow another 23% by 2013.  This growth is less about the food’s being kosher and more about to the fact that consumers are more interested in certified food.

In response to this growth, Manischewitz has made bold moves to add new broths, soups and gravies that will compete against mainstream consumer packaged goods like Campbell Soup and Del Monte Foods.  To support these new products, the company is creating advertising that appeal beyond the Jewish consumer to a more generic audience.  Additionally, Manischewitz will be putting this advertising in Sunday papers (e.g. Washington Post, NJ Star Ledger).

If a company that has done the same thing for 120 years can evolve and change, so can YOU!  This time of year typically gets people thinking about what change they would like to incorporate in their lives. Manishchewitz gives us a great framework to approach our New Year.

  • Define and prioritize the change you want to make – Whether you are currently in a job, seeking a job or looking to advance in your career, there are plenty of things you WISH for.  However, there are really one or two things that would really catapult you to that next level.  What are those important things? Using a SMART format would work well here.
  • Recognize where the winds are blowing – Manischewitz saw a 7 year growth trend in kosher food.  The growth did not come from their core customer (Jews), but rather a new set of customers (Gentiles) who were seeking certified products.  To one customer, Kosher is a dietary law, while another customer sees Kosher as a stamp of approval.  Understand how your profession, sector, industry, company, division or team is changing and evolving through news gathering via social media, industry conferences/meetings and in-person meetings.
  • Ensure full buy-in to the proposed change – Talking about change is easy. However, change is about a new mindset.  This might make you or your colleagues uncomfortable and could lead a change effort to get stuck.  Make sure that all concerns are heard and addressed in making this change.
  • Make a plan – Manischewitz decided to “fish in a new pond.”  This took careful planning to understand their new customer and what that new customer cared about. Devising a job search strategy or career acceleration plan is no different.  Make sure you understand the lingua franca of your new target, where they look for information and speak to them on their terms.
  • Act on the plan with gusto – Once plan has been put in place, you need to move quickly and assertively to gain momentum.  If you have any reservations, make sure to lock them in the closet.  Action is about execution.  Enjoy and embrace this change. As you get small wins, your confidence will build for larger ones  –
  • Learn as you go and make revisions – The best plans are ones that allow for modification.  As you learn new things that confirm or dispute your original hypothesis, make sure that is reflected in your plan.

2012 is going to be a great year.  Think big and be open to change.  Manischewitz did, and it looks like another 120 years of success for the company.  Charge!