Potato Chips, Scotch, Basketball…Johnson – It’s All About Creating Demand
Jarvie has proven his point with all of those products and more during a career that has included senior roles at Procter and Gamble, Dr. Pepper, Fidelity Investments, Schenley Industries, New Era Beverage Company, Universal Sports America, Host Communications, Streetball Partners, and more.
Now, with a $1 million gift over the next five years, he hopes to help create a higher level of demand for Johnson and its graduates. The Charles and Janet Jarvie Executive Director of Marketing Fund will support hiring a senior marketing professional. “I want to try to help the school become as good in marketing to its customers as it is in educating its students,” he says. “I want Johnson to be a top-five school – to attract outstanding students who will do well in the business world and in turn make a higher contribution to the school. The intrinsic value is there. The school does a fine job and is worthy of support. It just needs marketing.”
This marketing fund is the latest in a number of generous gifts Jarvie has made to Johnson over the years. “I was honored to go to Cornell,” he says, and he credits his undergraduate experiences in the ILR and Arts schools and his graduate MBA program with learning how to learn, and to appreciate learning. In particular, he recalls Professor Frank Gilmore. “He taught manufacturing. I was a marketing major, but I loaded up on his courses because he was the only one who taught the case method. He gave us a complicated case at the start of the week, and we had to work it out over the course of the week. He encouraged us to work with other students. This was the first time in my experience that the professor didn’t tell you what the problem was. He just gave us a whole set of facts, and the process of figuring out the problem or main opportunity was generic.”
Throughout his career, Jarvie used what he learned at Cornell to identify opportunities and create demand, and he continues to do so. Over the past several years, he has looked for opportunities inherent in “avalanches” – societal changes at the macro level such as the aging of the population, Mexican immigration, and the development of communication technology. Explaining his approach, he says, “I want to get products and services in front of these. Then I have to talk about the product. Ninety percent of people who talk about products talk about features. The marketing person talks about benefits. It sounds simple, but it is not. Benefits for whom? You go from internal to external, looking at minds and habits. It’s the difference between deductive and inductive logic. If you have an avalanche of some sort and a group of consumers can benefit, then you have a marketing opportunity.”
Currently, Jarvie is applying these concepts in several ventures. Of the first, he says, “One avalanche in the southwest is drought. Climate change is real, and there are a lot of effects of water shortage. Grass is one of them. A couple of years ago, I got into the artificial turf business. You can put it in lawns or public spaces. The payout is four or five years of water payments, but the product lasts 20 years” –clearly yielding a financial benefit to the buyer.
Another of the avalanches Jarvie sees is in the medical industry, and he focused in on the medical management side. “There’s a tremendous amount of consolidation required when an individual physician works within a large hospital. We found a company that’s really good at integrating physician offices into hospital systems and grew it from $3 million four years ago to $150 million today. We did not create the market; we read it.”
Yet another of Jarvie’s current ventures is in broadcast media. “We were going from mass to specific, looking for an affinity interest, in which people share an interest so strongly that they will suspend economic rationality to pursue it. It is not a shared interest, it is a shared passion.” The avalanche Jarvie saw for this venture: the growth of the Asian population in the United States. “So we put a company together to retain the rights to many of the Asian sports and created a new Asian sports cable channel which is now carried by about 70 percent of the cable companies.”
With inspiration from Jarvie’s example and funding from his generous gift, Johnson will soon take the next steps toward escalating demand for admission and for Johnson graduates. Watch for it to happen.