July 1, 2019
The Monday Edge is off next week for the July 4th holiday. We’ll be on July 15th!
If you’re looking for a quick yet interesting read this month, David Epstein’s Range digs into how and why generalists triumph in a specialized world.
From Deepak’s neuroscience desk, developments that show fonts – a new one called Sans Forgetica in particular – can help improve our memory.
BRAND & MARKETING
- Kantar’s Dr. Emmanuel Probst argues that despite all the screens, apps, and social media platforms, consumers are on a quest to find a simple, but essential thing: meaning – not brands.
- In case you missed it, ecosystems were the secret to success for many of BrandZ’s top-ranking brands this year. These leading brands have stopped chasing market share, and are instead after share of life; they’re less about meeting needs, more about beating needs. Dig into these mindset shifts and others defining this new approach to winning to stay at the leading edge.
- Publicis Sapient’s Head of Experience shares her observations from this year’s Cannes festival, noting that “what is demonstrable is the importance of creativity in the role of transforming brands and businesses.” While most companies are great at their core business, but not great at reimagining the future of their business. Related, Strategy& details advice and best practices for building disruptive strategic flywheels.
- Marketing Week looks into how the world’s largest consumer brands are sharpening their portfolios and culling unprofitable ranges to free up investment for more experimentation and quicker action on the latest trends.
- High-performing businesses are seven times more likely than industry laggards to feel they have control over the balance between personalization and privacy – especially important as consumers have “woken up” to the value of and risks around their data.
- This year’s Cannes Lion winners show that marketers are leveling up traditional approaches to “purpose,” finding new strategies to use brands’ power to help instigate conversations about social issues.
- Google’s chief data scientist reminds that having an abundance of data doesn’t mean better decisions, and emphasizes the importance of specifying how we’ll use data to arrive at a decision to avoid our unconscious biases twisting it to support whatever choice we want.
- Kantar research reveals the ‘Exposure-Activation-Experience’ to explain why growth momentum can come from brand clarity and being meaningfully different, but market share takes more time to accumulate.
- Blue State Digital makes the case for AI’s role in focus groups, surveys, and even in testing content via “synthetic customer personas.”
- Marketing Week recently profiled their list of the top 50 CX professionals of 2019, and provides some insight on how and why CX is building brands and businesses. This comes as Spalding’s head of Digital Marketing & eCommerce recommends empathy as a critical complement to technology when designing superior customer experiences, and as Adobe’s 2019 Digital Trends Advertising in Focus report confirms that digital-first companies are winning the battle of providing personalized experiences.
- JWT’s “The Single Age” digs into the cultural groundswell reframing single people as they really are – confident, fulfilled and empowered – and the implications of this onset of individualism for brands and marketers.
- Singular’s new “State of the CGO” report unpacks the role of the chief growth officer: more than a quarter of organizations have some version of a “head of growth,” a role that translates to consequential differences in digital, mobile, AI, skills training, and “analytics mastery” capabilities within organizations.
RETAIL, SALES & SHOPPER
- A look at DTC’s evolution from “unsavory roots” to a “sophisticated” driver of innovation which stems from genuine empathy for customers and their pain points.
- Consulting POV – The article rightly points out that “D2C” really doesn’t mean anything anymore except “brands that use slightly unconventional marketing and GTM tactics to reach consumers that aren’t entirely dependent on TV and mass retail.” Our own Malcolm Pinkerton coauthored a great piece with VMLY&R that breaks down the attributes of successful D2C brands.
- Modern Retail cautions that even with myriad digital investments, department stores are still at a disadvantage in increasingly challenging channel and competitive environments.
- Consulting POV – Our own Tiffany Hogan is quoted in here along with some other smart people! Tiffany’s summary of a rough Q1 for department stores in the USA hits a number of these challenges, but department stores don’t really have a job anymore in an internet world. They used to be curators of trend from a world the shopper would never see…there are few worlds shoppers can’t see today if they choose to!
- Toys “R” Us is reopening US stores and an eCommerce site as early as 2019, AdAge reports.
- Consulting POV – Being more experiential and smaller is a good idea for a toy store in a world where toys command a much smaller share of childhood entertainment than they used to!
- Wunderman Thompson’s new report “The Future Shopper 2019” explored digital customer journeys and factors influencing online purchasing decisions to identify new insight on three key phases of the digital shopping experience. This complement’s Ubimo’s recent findings that, due to their preference for both experiential and personalization, Centennials desire a blended physical and digital shopping experience.
- Consulting POV – Both of these reports ignore some simple stuff like lifestage – people with time on their hands “crave experiential shopping.” As more millennials enter their 30s and almost 40s, time constraints drive shoppers into high-utility, lower engagement platforms. Amazon has never been a format for particularly young shoppers…retailers have a great opportunity to capture Centennials into their ecosystem before they age into defaulting to Amazon!=
- Amazon Prime Day 2019 will be longer than a day and will extend beyond Amazon itself as competitors ramp up their efforts to distract consumers from the shopping bonanza.
- Consulting POV – Our Prime Day coverage will be epic, multi-continental, and cool. Stay tuned!
- In other Amazon news, shares of beauty retailers fell last week after Amazon’s Professional Beauty Store was announced “to offer professional stylists, barbers, and estheticians a convenient, custom shopping experience with great selection.” Amazon also introduced Counter, a free in-store pick-up service intended to help the giant sell more products, pharma or otherwise.
- Consulting POV – Wall Street’s reactions to Amazon’s announcements make very little sense – Amazon’s been a massive beauty retailer for many years now, and this B2B play is interesting but likely to be a small part of its beauty portfolio. Brian Owens and Tiffany Hogan have put together some great pieces on omnichannel beauty and on Sally Beauty’s format reinvention. Amazon Counter is in Rite Aid stores, but isn’t pharma specific – it’s just another way shoppers who don’t want to receive Amazon products at home for logistic/theft reasons to pick up their Amazon purchases.
- Bic is the latest brand to team up with Amazon for an exclusive product launch: “Made For You” razors are slightly more premium than Bic’s other razor offerings, but in line with other DTC players’ offerings.
- Consulting POV – This makes sense, as Bic is obviously late to market with a subscription razor platform and doesn’t have tremendous digital reach (how could they – a lot of their eCommerce talent works for us now in the form of Alice Fournier and Rachel Dalton 😊).
- CB Insights details 68 bankruptcies in the retail world since 2015 with a thorough tear-down of why they failed.
- Consulting POV – Most of these would require more than a paragraph, but fashion retailers go bankrupt more often than they stick around for multiple decades (including most of these).
- Instacart’s Chief Business Officer Nilam Ganenthiran recently spoke to the balance between the online grocer’s role in the industry and ambition to “bring all of the grocery store online” – but desire to not be a grocer itself.
- Consulting POV – Smart guy. Kevin McCoy did a great profile on Instacart earlier this year. Instacart wants to remain independent, but they will be an increasingly valuable asset to someone like Google over time.
- Princeton researchers dug into the increasingly deceptive practices e-tailers are using on their sites to manipulate shoppers. Whether confirm-shaming or messages that pressure shoppers into making a purchase, the perpetrators of this deception are some of the biggest e-commerce sites around, including Walmart and J.Crew, as well as scores of smaller sites.
- Consulting POV – Honestly, making this type of thing illegal looks like a fool’s errand. Retailers have been using time pressure and discounting to trigger purchase since cavemen were swapping obsidian for mammoth fur. Giving it a scary sounding name like “dark patterns” doesn’t make it revolutionary. The efforts to keep them away from kids will gather energy.
ON THE HORIZON
- Salesforce’s CMO warns that the age of marketing campaigns is over – good marketers are delivering continuous experiences and storytelling to resonate with and retain customers.
- It’s the end of another era as Jony Ive departs Apple to start his own venture. This could have very real implications for Apple’s product decisions (and of course design) moving forward.
- In case you missed the series of Future Proof podcasts live from Cannes, check out:
- Salesloft’s Matt Alvarez provides tips for building a strong and successful partner program, given they’re increasingly crucial to the success of any company.
- New research from Forrester finds that businesses that partner grow faster and generate more revenue.
- Coca-Cola is teaming up with Stranger Things on an “exclusive” 80’s arcade in London.
- Enabling the ongoing engagement and everyday progress of people in the trenches who strive to execute strategy should be an equally critical priority for leaders as strategy creation. McKinsey outlines four traps to avoid on this front.
- Salesforce just launched a Customer Data Platform to help users unify their marketing data and form a single, cohesive view of their customer, “clean data, a place to do analytics, and the ability to bring data together from multiple channels.”
- Instagram’s revamped Explore page now features ads and new shopping features to level-up the platform’s eCommerce capabilities.
- In its annual list of America’s Hottest Brands, AdAge features brands that have managed to break through in today’s cluttered consumer environment. Some are unsurprising; some are a little more questionable.
- Google Maps is now letting local businesses reward their followers with discounts, among other new features.
- Hershey’s is giving its most underrated – but arguably best – candy bar a makeover to get it the attention it deserves.
- The author of The CMO’s Periodic Table outlines “cool CATS” as key to what makes CMOs successful, as CMO suggests how CMOs can help the industry and their organizations embrace diversity.
- As JP Morgan shuts down its Finn app, a look at why flanker brands don’t work in banking.
- McKinsey’s collection of pieces around beating the market through digital and analytics offers guidance on how to think about growth, then find, fund, and deliver it.