May 13, 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, an oldie-but-goodie from McKinsey on the power of behavioral science to improve customer experience and WARC explores the new possibilities of neuro-creative for optimized campaigns and marketing decisions.
Below are a few thought-provoking articles to kick-start your week. Thanks as always for reading, sharing and sending your contributions.
BRAND & MARKETING
- The CMO of NPR, a non-profit radio organization, appreciates that as a marketer, her role is about more than generating revenue – it’s about “lifting hearts and minds.”
- For newly-emerging companies, premature marketing – that is, aggressively marketing a product or service before you know if customers truly value it – can actually be the “kiss of death.”
- The head of marketing and customer insights at Adobe shares his thoughts on what it takes to build a world-class marketing insights organization.
- Related, McKinsey spoke to the CEO of Informatica about how businesses can best leverage data (widely, across the whole enterprise) as an asset to derive real value from it.
- Lots happening in the plant-based space these days!
- Following successful launch of the Incredible Burger in Europe and given its deep interest in this space, Nestle is bringing its plant-based burger to the US (this time, as the Awesome Burger).
- Even Hooters is jumping on the trend, having just announced a partnership with Beyond Meat.
- Dunkin’ is digging into plant-based proteins for key menu items as part of its “better-for-you” strategy.
- Danone CEO anticipates that Danone’s U.S. plant-based business could become as big as its traditional yogurt business in the next decade due to high penetration and adoption.
- The Guardian debates how ethical it is for advertisers to target consumers based on their moods, but Vox’s separate analysis explores a whole set of industries – coworking spaces, friendship apps, even adult dorms – which are seeing great success in capitalizing on the rise in loneliness.
- Tom’s, the shoe brand who initiated the concept of buy-one give-one, is refreshing this model to hopefully translate to greater impact through shoe purchases. In other brand and purpose-driven news, the CEO of Tender Greens is making sure women in the food industry get paid by thinking strategically about growth plans and scaling strategies.
- A new tool call Grow Your Circle has been created to help infuse more diversity into advertising. Speaking of inclusion and accessibility, Apple’s products will soon have better healthcare features for more senior audiences.
- A look at the past and untraditional path Dr. Bronner’s soap has traversed to become the cornerstone wellness / lifestyle (or, “commodified hippiedom”) brand it is today.
RETAIL, SALES & SHOPPER
- Shopify’s Hana Abaza contends that direct-to-consumer is a mindset and a passion for the relationship, not a business model. Perhaps that’s why established retailer Edgewell is spending $1.4b to purchase Harry’s, the DTC razor company and competitor of Dollar Shave Club (and traditional razors of course) to help transform the organization, and what motivated L’Oreal’s recent shift into DTC with a new custom hair product.
- Consulting POV – Shopify is a pretty successful business model that solves a problem for brands, which is getting started on something where without leverageable capabilities it could be slow or expensive. Where L’Oreal’s foray into D2C is pretty typical, the Edgewell experiment is pretty unique. This is a relatively small CPG buying a relatively large D2C brand, and leaving Harry’s management on-board to run their entire US operation.
- Vox details the history of the most successful and most devastating subscription service that changed retail forever, Amazon Prime. But Amazon’s (and Target’s) latest obsession: cardboard boxes, and their role as branding tools and parts of the customer experience.
- Consulting POV – The Prime story is a must-read to understand how accidental and Bezos-driven a lot of Amazon’s success, particularly early on, was. Our most comprehensive overview of what Prime has matured into is this deck from Meaghan Werle. Boxes will continue to be a bigger part of experience-centric brands – and of course Kantar participated in one of the great examples of this partnering with IKEA.
- In other Target news, while the retailer leverages its accelerator program to inform its in-house data capabilities and advance food-focused startups, it’s just announced the class of (not necessarily retail-focused) startups participating in its first Incubator program. Related, CB Insights recently detailed some of the best products that have emerged from corporate innovation labs.
- Consulting POV – Fun stuff from Target, and the oft-cited Meaghan Werle will be speaking at the Walmart event cited in the article! Target seems content with using the innovation labs to stay close to innovation for others to leverage. The alarming number of innovations coming from Bell Labs and Xerox unleveraged by those companies was a huge takeaway from the piece, as well as how (relatively) successful Amazon has been at bringing its lab products to life.
- NBC has started pitching marketers on ShoppableTV, which gives viewers a direct purchase channel through use of on-screen QR codes, removing points of friction that otherwise lower advertising conversion rates. Instagram, meanwhile, has launched a new @shop account to curate and boost interest in top shoppable posts as indicated by community trends.
- Consulting POV – ShoppableTV feels like something that should have happened 10 years ago, and on-screen QR codes are not exactly the seamless interface we hear so much about. Instagram’s commercial efforts need to be watched carefully – they could change fashion and beauty retail more fundamentally than Amazon has.
- Groupon is pivoting from vouchers for products and experiences to become a go-to marketplace.
- Consulting POV – Marketplaces need either ubiquity or distinctiveness. It’s unclear how Groupon’s marketplace will have either.
- Amazon just opened its first Amazon Go location in New York City – but importantly, this one takes cash. This could have very real implications for the future and success of this model.
- Consulting POV – The taking cash part may not actually have real implications: it has political implications as it’s become a rallying cry for income inequality. Putting cash on a mobile phone for payment purposes is a pretty easy solve if the problem ever required solving at scale.
- Walmart continues to evolve its products, supply chain, and solutions: it’s now introducing veterinary clinics in a number of stores to add to its growing repertoire of pet products. Meanwhile, CVS’ new retail concept reimagines the local pharmacy as an assistant, educator, physician, and fitness instructor.
- Consulting POV – This continues a trend of retailers expanding into services…veterinary services are a fragmented, relatively high-margin part of the US retail ecosystem. If anyone has questions about this specifically, chase down Ted Riedel or Dave Marcotte, both of whom have done extensive work with clients in this space. The CVS health hub amplifies this trend, befitting a business which is more healthcare company than retailer: Ben Antenore’s Executive Summary of CVS is a great look at their corporate strategies as they manage the evolution of their business.
ON THE HORIZON
- ICYMI, the other Facebook co-founder, Chris Hughes, very publicly suggested last week that it’s time to break up Facebook.
- Publicis’ former CEO stands behind its recent purchase of a data company given the “sea change” in the industry and a future based on data – not mass media.
- Airbnb is diversifying its business as it eyes a 2020 IPO.
- Starbucks enjoyed roughly $2.3b in free advertising from a recent Game of Thrones episode – though it wasn’t actually a partnership, and it wasn’t even a Starbucks coffee cup!
- Waymo and Lyft are partnering to pilot exposure of and collect early feedback on Waymo Driver among Lyft users.
- Toyota and Panasonic are teaming up once again, this time on a joint company that will develop connected services for homes and urban development (likely an effort to find alternate revenue streams).
- Google has just rebranded its Home devices as the Nest Hub to signal its new smart home strategy and its distinction from the Google brand – but will doing so alienate current and important would-be customers?
- Nike now sees itself as a technology company following release of a new app that leverages AI, ML, computer vision, data science, and recommendation algorithms to find the right shoe fit (and minimize returns in doing so).
- A helpful perspective on personal and professional growth, CEO of a just-listed NYSE company recommends that shifting from CMO to CEO requires gathering experiences, being open-minded and taking opportunities to build a rich skill set that spans functions.
- US digital advertising increased 22% to over $100B in 2018, according to new research from IAB and PwC, with especially high growth in mobile and 77% of spending concentrated in the top 10 ad sellers.
- As the world of digital, marketing and technology evolves at an exponential pace and marketers try to keep pace or make sense of the rapid changes, what’s the right balance to strike across marketing, tech, data, and CX? Unfortunately, research shows that companies hiring Chief Digital Officers to spur growth…underperform.
- Alibaba is now China’s most valuable brand, knocking rival tech giant Tencent from the top spot on BrandZ’s annual ranking. China’s most valuable brands grew 30% to a total value of $889.7 billion.
- Kantar’s Barbara Cador reminds us that now, more than ever, CX makes or breaks brands and underpins their value. The co-founder of luxury hotel chain The Ritz-Carlton, Horst Schulze, agrees – luxury travel brand or otherwise – in his new book Excellence Wins.
- Victoria’s Secret is overhauling its iconic annual fashion show in an era where inclusion, diversity, content and competitors are changing the game.