June 24, 2019
Welcome back to your weekly update on the changes, trends, and movers-and-shakers making headlines across marketing, brand, consumers and more!
Just released: Forbes’ annual Most Influential CMOs list. These leaders’ influence comes from how they tune into customer attitudes and industry trends to translate ever-more data and marketing inputs into a coherent business strategy – and industry impact.
From Deepak’s neuroscience desk, the overuse of myriad behavioral nudges and consumer psychology manipulations may actually be reducing their power as consumers begin to catch on.
Below are a few thought-provoking articles to kick-start your week. Thanks as always for reading, sharing and sending your contributions.
BRAND & MARKETING
- A still-relevant throwback from HBR in 1972 nicely profiles . Highly recommended!
- McKinsey calls out leaders’ overconfidence in their theoretical knowledge of talent strategy, management, and even people development best practices as the reason many of these ideas are never implemented in practice.
- Though Oatly employed many strategies to succeed in the US, a marketing department wasn’t one. In another example of embracing the unconventional: though Richard Montañez is now PepsiCo’s VP of Multicultural Sales, he first thought of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos when he was but a company janitor.
- Digiday explains Kellogg’s formula for using customer feedback on social media platforms to inform its marketing and product road map.
- The proliferation of social media marketers known as virtual influencers means companies hoping to connect with online consumers can now create their own brand ambassadors from scratch.
- Mastercard is introducing the True Name card, which will allow transgender customers choose the name to use on credit and debit cards. Indeed, Deloitte research shows that the average consumer as once known is gone as economic, demographic and cultural factors around consumers create nuances that are turning traditional retail and consumer products sectors on their heads.
- Citigroup CEO Michael Corbat acknowledges the need to dig deeper to create a “sustainable” culture for women and minorities in order to retain them.
- Slated for launch in 2025, Colgate recently redesigned the toothpaste tub to actually be recyclable.
- MiQ CEO notes that “businesses still don’t understand the true value of the data they have access to.” Bain’s infographic on how marketers use measurement to beat the competition confirms that leaders not only analyze entire customer journeys – they actually convert those insights into action.
- A recent study from Snap and JWT finds that Centennials are an ideal group for both collaboration with brands and reception of organic branded content. Samsung is a case in point, with its new “dreamers with purpose” strategy entails developing technology that evolves alongside Centennials, and “storyliving” (notstorytelling!) by being and authentic and relevant brand to this generation.
RETAIL, SALES & SHOPPER
- Shopify launched a new fulfillment service that uses machine learning to predict demand, allocate inventory, and route orders to the closest fulfillment center in order to become the all-encompassing platform engineering the growth of DTC retail, and make fast and inexpensive shipping the new standard on the internet
- Consulting POV – This development will continue to blur the line between an “independent seller” (largely using Amazon’s 3P network in the US to reach consumers and fulfill) and a “small retailer” (who overwhelmingly use Shopify to execute their eCommerce sites). Shopify’s fulfillment capabilities (if they can truly scale them) would be the first genuine competitor to the Amazon 3P ecosystem.
- As Walmart introduces Delivery Unlimited, an…unlimited…grocery delivery subscription service to try and entice online shoppers, eMarketer digs into the arms race between Walmart, Amazon, and Target to peoples’ homes as quickly as humanly—or robotically—possible.
- Consulting POV – Eventually speed of distribution among the largest retail platforms will reach some sort of parity. The “race to real time delivery” is a topic the media love…the really interesting question is how much differentiation these scaled proprietary platforms can have over something like the Shopify platform outlined above.
- Meanwhile, the Washington Post warns of Amazon’s ramped-up efforts to win over customers that typically frequent rivals such as Walmart: low-income shoppers.
- Consulting POV – This probably won’t work. As our piece “Going Fast In A Slowdown” suggests, a huge number of US low income consumers fall into a segmentation known as “cash flow” statement shoppers, who struggle from pay event to pay event. These shoppers are simply unlikely to see the value in any shopping solution that requires paying up front to receive value.
- Kroger will start selling CBD products, beating its grocer peers in doing so.
- Consulting POV – With the passing of the Farm Act earlier this year, the status of CBD-infused products in the US became markedly clearer. Expect to see most retailers experimenting with these products over the course of 2019/2020. This piece from Brian Owens is a good view of what that future might look like.
- Pinterest is betting on DTC brands to help fuel its growth as a now-public company, but marketers are still wary of the platform’s value as a customer acquisition tool. A look at how the platform is trying to win them over.
- Consulting POV – The fact that marketers can’t sort out how to convert the massive amount of engagement Pinterest generates into effective marketing may say more about marketers than Pinterest. It makes a ton of sense for D2C brands to leverage Pinterest’s strength in top of the funnel awareness and engagement.
- Verishop, the eCommerce marketplace founded by ex-Snap CSO Imran Khan, will leverage influencers (“tastemakers”) to develop highly-curated shopping zones, similar to a personalized product channel. It promises “quality curation and discovery, with the convenience you’ve come to expect” – likely meaning it will be ad-free. Business Insider has more on what this means.
- Consulting POV – This is a really interesting idea: essentially a fusing of Instagram and Amazon into an influencer-centric commerce site dedicated to letting high-end brands find a route to market in a brand-safe environment. This is really what Walmart should have done with jet.com – used it as a brand-safe platform for brands not interested in Amazon’s or Walmart’s ecosystem. It will be fun to watch this scale: this is the closest someone has come to replicating the Chinese ecosystem’s integration of commerce, influence and branding.
- YouTube has introduced an AR / VR program that matches brands with influencers and lets shoppers try on products virtually.
- Consulting POV – A cool development! Our team put together a good view on the uses of AR in the retail ecosystem here.
- As one of the world’s largest food chains, Ikea is testing a service that enables it to expand its food footprint into home deliveries.
- Consulting POV – IKEA has always been a good example of a retailer with a strong footprint in foodservice, and they have done a great job of understanding that the job of food in a business model like this one is distinctiveness and brand resonance. Delivery is an interesting next step!
- Dozens of recommendations websites have emerged to help shoppers compare options across brands, retailers, and suppliers for every type of online purchase – at it could fundamentally transform how we shop.
- Consulting POV – Whether you call it network effects or aggregator theory, the challenge all of these niche review sites have is that there is real value in a huge number of reviews being aggregated in one place. That, simply, is highly likely to be Amazon in categories often purchased there. The rest of these platforms will struggle unless they appeal to a targeted audience, establish credibility and become part of the conversation in that general ecosystem
ON THE HORIZON
A plethora of perspectives on the future of marketing – and the ever-changing, always-demanding CMO role – last week:
- Research from the Financial Times and the IPA finds that over 50% of senior leaders consider their knowledge of brand-building to be average to very poor – and less than a third consider brand health metrics at a board level!
- The latest State of the CMO report finds that CMO tenures continue to shorten as struggles with proving value and effectiveness continue to rise.
- The CMO Growth Council reconvened in Cannes least week, with Tencent, LVMH and other global CMOs working on solutions for and opportunities around the high-pressure, unsafe, and definitionally instable CMO role.
- Forbes argues its time to rebrand the CMO, and replace the M with an X.
- And, as a “streamlined” business model at Johnson & Johnson leads to elimination of the CMO role, Unilever is on the hunt for a CMO++.
But, also at Cannes, McKinsey shed light on CEOs’ perceptions of CMOs, arguing that with marketing’s opportunity to power organization-wide growth, “marketing’s moment is now” – they just need to think differently about their value to an organization.
WPP and iHeartMedia are partnering on Project Listen to drive innovation and learning in creative and media strategies across all audio platforms.
Amazon acquired Whole Foods two years ago, but the store’s performance hasn’t taken off under Amazon, and online, Amazon’s presence only roused competitors to up their game.
IBM and AdWeek have co-created the Institute for Brand Marketing, a free educational resource program that seeks to fill a void in the marketplace for continual learning and will help marketers become fluent in the latest technology.
L.L. Bean and Uber are partnering to bring campsite pop-ups and other traditional outdoor summer activities to cities, and help people enjoy get more out of their summers.
- PSA: If you’re looking for the complete opposite of growth, trying hot-desking.
- Peoples’ hate for flying (shocking, I know) is threatening the survival of the industry amid growing openness to any other option, AVs included.
- The CMO of one of the largest public cannabis companies dishes on the secrets behind successfully marketing cannabis.
- CB Insights profiles 18 of the greatest brand comeback stories, Starbucks and Nintendo included.
- Mark Ritson think Apple’s confusing product portfolio will benefit…Microsoft, and eMarketer speculates that Apple’s new sign-in feature will benefit Apple less than it will hurt Facebook and Google.
- Publicis Sapient’s new Chief Experience Officer is leaving Silicon Valley and the promise of tech startups to help “end ups” – legacy companies struggling to adapt to a tech-driven world – serve human beings, regular people, non-tech people.
- Facebook’s launch of Libra, a global cryptocurrency backed by powerful founding members (even Visa!) is an audacious bid to create a global digital currency that promotes financial inclusion for the unbanked.
- NBCUniversal unveiled new strategies to help brands cut through at Cannes last week, including “commercial innovations” like “must hear” TV to help win in the attention economy.
- A podcast on why, despite everyone’s desire and ambitions for personalization, 3% of internet users are still receiving marketing communications irrelevant to them.