July 15, 2019
Welcome back to your weekly update on the changes, trends, and movers-and-shakers making headlines across marketing, brand, consumers and more!
From Deepak’s neuroscience desk, how neuroscience equips us to become better creators.
A cross-Kantar team just published a sharp distillation of the 12 most important findings from Mary Meeker’s annual trends report in terms of strategy, brand, and business implications to help CEOs, CMOs, and other business leaders actually act on and capitalize on the myriad excellent themes outlined in the 300+ page report. A fantastic conversation-starter!
Lots going on, so below is a selection thought-provoking articles to kick-start your week. Thanks as always for reading, sharing and sending your contributions.
BRAND & MARKETING
- BCG recently explored “the art of strategic creativity” through the lens of zig-zagging for maximum impact, Marketing Week reiterates the potential of hybrid teams for driving innovation, Ideo strongly warns not to discard your innovation budget. Case in point for a mindset and behavior that embraces innovation: internal disruption is working for General Mills.
- Given Lacroix’s recent downfall and yet a surge in hard seltzer offers, it’s worth considering whether seltzer is here to stay, or just a fad after all. Maybe best to stick to the basics like coffee, though even that’s not safe: engineers have designed a smooth, bean-less coffee.
- With both the nature of work and job market as they current are, there are a lot of emotions we feel toward work these days. On the one hand, there’s boredom – which can actually make you a better contributor if you can harness it correctly; on the other, there’s joy, which marketers can bring more of to their work via a few tips discussed in Kantar’s recent Future Proof podcast. But there’s also burnout; HBR explains 6 top causes of it here, but also warns that burnout can just as easily come from passion.
- Forbes digs into Zillow’s plans to become a home-flipping machine.
- A look at why Microsoft had to transform its B2B marketing model.
- Lenny Rachitsky, a former product leader at Airbnb outlines 28 ways to plan a platform strategy and grow supply in a marketplace.
- In a world where experience-driven businesses enjoy superior performance, new research shows that experience, not price, is increasingly the top conversion factor for consumers. Related, six best practices for igniting CX via smart and strategic use of IoT.
- As reported by CEO Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan Chase is “gaining share in millennials every day.” MillerCoors has some strategies for how to appeal to this generation too, whether by white-wine calorie counts or embracing gamers.
- Stanford shares results of a new marketing study of Facebook users, recommending against hard-sell tactics, and encouraging selling “your brand, not your stuff” instead.
- A recent Twitter debate proved focus groups remain a “bone of contention” for all, but Mark Ritson thinks ethnography beats them “hands down.” This may be of interest to The New York Times and Wall Street Journal, who are both increasing their focus on user behavior to promote deeper engagement, and drive subscription growth and retention.
- Experts from McKinsey provide guidance on how to leverage analytics to set better sales goals.
- Kantar experts speak to how tone-deaf activism (“woke-washing”) risks eroding brands, and how brands are increasingly out of touch with American women. At least some employers are getting it right, as evidenced by Forbes’ recent ranking of top employers for women.
- A nice recap of six ways a strong brand makes companies money.
RETAIL, SALES & SHOPPER
- Observing that most retailers are nowhere close to delivering the personalized experiences that their customers expect, BCG “has developed an innovative approach that companies can use to assess and elevate their level of personalization.” Related, McKinsey claims that personalization will be the primary driver of marketing success before 2025, and proposes three key areas to prioritize in order to win in this reality.
- Consulting POV – The BCG piece in particular is a useful framework for thinking through a garbled topic. Increasingly, personalization looks to be an asymmetric, two-way relationship: brands need to harness “optimization personalization” to allow algorithms and data to deliver contextualized efficiency – making sure the wrong message isn’t in front of someone at the wrong time. The second type, contextualized effectiveness – is more about painting a rich and nuanced picture of who your consumer is and delivering a brand promise that’s relevant to that person. The trick here isn’t how well brands know their consumers, but how well consumers know the brand. A good, if somewhat old, review of retail personalization by Tiffany Hogan is available here.
- A look at why GameStop, the world’s largest video game retailer, is dying despite the growth in gaming. Perhaps it has something to do with Microsoft, Sony, and Google investing in subscriptions and streaming to give gamers more choice.
- Consulting POV – GameStop is in trouble because though gaming is booming, physical game distribution is not; mobile and cloud based gaming are taking massive share of attention from physical, console based games. In our Retail Sound Bites podcast on gaming, we discussed the idea that GameStop might be better embracing experience, and turning tired storefronts into places where people can game together in person.
- As Millennials age – and become increasingly disillusioned by and less positive towards today’s businesses – DTCs are turning to kids as their new target with new product lines and marketing campaigns just the start.
- Consulting POV – One of the Uncomfortable States of Growth (map launching soon!) is the idea that older Moms are more likely to try and bring their values to their kids rather than parenting like their parents did. The DTC piece above reflects that. A singular focus on shareholder value (be it stock market investors, founders, VCs, or private equity companies driving enterprise value) has created a fairly predictable backlash from consumers expecting the largest employers, healthcare buyers and income providers to think more holistically than that about their role in society.
- In other DTC news, Former AOL CEO Tim Armstrong has just launched a new venture,Unbox, to help retailers bypass big tech platforms like Google and Amazon to reach customers directly.
- Consulting POV – Tim Armstrong tried one strategy to go around the big digital players, basically buying the 1990s internet with AOL and Yahoo and forming Oath, which suffice it to say, didn’t exactly accomplish that goal (though he did get paid $60MM to stop doing it, so there’s that). This seems more or less like what good digital media planning agencies already do…
- The IAB finds that 48% of US consumers shop disruptor brands – especially true for those who use purchases as a vehicle for self-expression.
- Consulting POV – If half of the market is “disruptor brands.” it’s probably time for a new term for them. The notion that people choose brands that aren’t the market leader/established market definer to express that they’re non-mainstream doesn’t feel like new news.
- Chief Marketer reiterates ways in which voice search is changing shopping behavior, while Facebook’s Director of Marketing for Facebook Messenger says conversational commerce is here, suggesting that CMOs / marketers need to embrace new channels to deepen connections with consumers and grow ROI.
- Consulting POV – The Chief Marketer piece is largely anecdotal and one would expect the head of Facebook Messenger to be optimistic about the future of conversational commerce! There’s very little evidence today to suggest that voice is changing anything but relatively fringe shopping behavior and conversational commerce is still in its infancy. Dave Marcotte’s look at retail technology balances being both forward looking and grounded in retail reality for those looking for a POV!
- eMarketer explains why internal politics at Walmart could derail the company’s eCommerce ambition to challenge Amazon. Another recent podcast discussedBrandless’s new CEO, Nordstrom being a “no-growth” retailer and Starbucks’s new tie-dye Frappuccino.
- Consulting POV – The Walmart podcast draws heavily from a terrific article written by Jason Del Rey at Recode that everyone should read. It echoes many of the sentiments in the Digital Adolescence piece we authored earlier this year.
- Stratechery’s Ben Thompson highlights Shopify in his exploration of the power of platforms when it comes to successful retail strategies.
- Consulting POV – Shopify is an underrated part of the retail ecosystem, and Thompson’s piece does a great job profiling how the Shopify ecosystem is probably the most effective “competitor” to Amazon that exists today. This piece, combined with the Del Rey piece above, will give anyone a great understanding of the real issues impacting the future of eCommerce today.
- MarketingLand recommends how retailers can create powerful human connections for shoppers amid the fanfare of Amazon Prime Day.
- Consulting POV – A good reminder that Amazon is only 5% of US retail, and less than 1% of retail globally. Enjoy our Prime Day coverage this week!
ON THE HORIZON
- The IAB is creating a nutritional label for data.
- Mastering Momentum, a new report from Kantar, suggests that the first step marketers need to take to unlock future brand growth is identifying reliable short-term indicators of long-term success. As Kantar’s Nigel Hollis explains, the analysis of how brands measured in BrandZ grew or declined over three years revealed that strongest growth occurs when brands excel across three stages of the buyer cycle.
- The average tenure of CMOs continues to fall, but the increase in first-time and internally-promoted CMOs demonstrates that organizations are investing in developing the next generation of marketing leaders. Unilever’s Alan Jope agrees, observing that “the skills he learned as a marketer have set him up perfectly” for his CEO role.
- …That said, Kimberly Clark has instated a Chief Growth Officer in the form of Alison Lewis, who will oversee “the company’s initiatives to improve commercial capabilities that drive growth” – marketing included. Mars recently shifted from a CMO to a CGO too, begging the question: will this help to reframe marketing’s role within the wider business or is there a risk of further damaging marketing’s reputation by pitching it as something separate to growth?
- WPP has officially sold 60% of Kantar to Bain for $4B…perhaps an appropriate time to revisitBain’s POV on private equity’s shift from cost-cutting to chasing growth opportunities and generating more value post-acquisition to expedite exit.
- Google has launched Google for Small Business, a web portal designed to make it easier for entrepreneurs to find business tools and services.
- Sony plans to invest $185m in companies within “key high-growth industries” via its Innovation Growth Fund.
- The power of data and tech is demonstrated by tight collaborations between the two throughout Mastercard’s business.
- Jay-Z is dipping into the cannabis market as Chief Brand Strategist for Caliva, a top cannabis company.
- One partnership to be wary of: consumers sharing their data with brands. NYT advises why selling your private data is a terrible idea
- Common success factors of the fastest-growing brands include relevance, responsiveness, and more.
- Disruption followed by stratospheric growth rates have long been the start-up ideal, but a new study explores the foundational elements of sustainable growth that apply both to early-stage firms and established brands.
- Publicis is restructuring its business to take a more regional focus in the US in pursuit of its “Power of One” vision.
- Facebook thinks its new crypto offer, Calibra, will help it become a financial services giant.
- Uber Eats has introduced a dine-in option in some cities, extending beyond its typical take-out offer. This comes as Uber and other ride-hailing companies introduce new perks and features to enhance passengers’ in-car experience.
- How incentive offers are presented can have real impact on word-of-mouth referrals and subsequent new customer conversion rates.
- Facebook has open sourced its deep learning recommendation model (DLRM) to help the wider AI community address challenges presented by recommendation engines.
- Google and Amazon are potentially moving into providing wireless connectivity, though the threat to existing telecom providers is TBD. The players already provide consumers with a range of on-the-go services; this indicates they’re exploring how to profit from the delivery of those and other services.
- Lady Gaga knows the world doesn’t need a new makeup brand, but launched one anyways in exclusive partnership with Amazon.
- Netflix has a new CMO – she’ll report to chief content officer Ted Sarandos, signaling that marketing efforts will continue to focus on individual shows and movies rather than the platform itself.
- Robots-as-a-service may very well take over the world of work.