No one has to tell manufacturing company executives that it’s getting tougher to differentiate themselves and compete successfully—they feel the pressure every day. Rapid globalization, technological advancements, changing consumer preferences, and evolving government policies are reshaping the manufacturing industry, exponentially accelerating the pace of competition and continually raising the bar on company performance.
Still, some manufacturers consistently and convincingly outperform their peers (see sidebar “Why study high-performing manufacturers?”). How are they doing this? And what can “the rest” learn from “the best” to improve their own performance? This report provides executives with clear direction on what companies need to do to be high-performing manufacturers—now and in the future. For more than 25 years, we’ve been studying manufacturers to identify what sets apart high-performing companies (defined in the section “About the study”) from their competitors. We found that high performers focus carefully on the development of specific but evolving sets of manufacturing capabilities to differentiate themselves and succeed in the marketplace. These capabilities, when coupled together, are difficult for their competitors to replicate, and when executed well, they create long-term competitive advantage by generating greater customer loyalty, higher market share, and superior profitability.