Using Data to Create Meaningful Relationships

March 31, 2015

At the Center on Global Brand Leadership, we were delighted to host our 8th annual BRITE conference this March.  BRITE ’15 continued our aim to present a range of diverse content, with sessions that ran from the marketing insights and initiatives of Doritos to a discussion of whether the future of artificial intelligence and robotics will help or hinder humanity.

One clear theme that ran through a several sessions this year was the influence data will have on brand building and business development. The hype cycle around the specific phrase “big data” has waned, because companies are now driven by how to effectively extract value from, and avoid the dangers inherent in, collecting and connecting massive amounts of data.

Data for Insights and Surprising Customers

Ann Mukherjee, President of PepsiCo Global Insights, kicked off the conference by noting, “We have to take consumer expectations for unpredictable marketing and make it predictable.” Mukherjee discussed the Doritos brand, and how PepsiCo used consumer data to uncover that the Doritos fan was ‘young and hungry’ – hungry for everything, not just a snack. “They want to be challenged because as they get challenged they think about how they challenge themselves.”

When it comes to developing loyalty, the Doritos target audience is no picnic. “Young snackers are promiscuous,” Mukherjee stated, “They’ll eat cardboard if it tastes good.” Given these dual insights, her challenge was to build something surprising, exciting, and most importantly scalable. At last year’s SxSW, her team did this by inviting the world to take part in its Doritos concert event, permitting fans to watch online and literally take control of the event by choosing lighting effects, songs that should be played, and what order artists should perform.

This ‘young and hungry’ insight also helped the brand redirect some of its marketing spend away from large TV spots. Instead, it looked for alternate opportunities to reach these young and hungry consumers, like partnering with the videogame Call of Duty and creating Taco Bell’s Doritos Locos Tacos. These tacos created so much buzz in limited release that six new manufacturing plants had to be built to meet the expected demand of the nationwide launch which spurred a 13% same-store sales increase in Q2 2012.

Meaningful Relationships

Martin Hayward, Senior Vice President of Global Digital Strategy and Futures at Aimia, stated in our joint keynote that Aimia hopes to help create a “utopian” future in which personal data access and permission controls are used, “to develop ‘real relationships,’ which is where the trust between consumers and companies is such that they happily share data because they know that data will be used to reward them and build long-term relationships for mutual benefit.”

Aimia_Four_Future_Landscapes_BRITE15
From the first teases of data coming out of a new research effort between our Brand Center and Aimia, we see evidence that consumers are right now suspect of companies creating this utopian future, but they are also hoping for it. We looked at six industry categories and found that consumers don’t report much comfort in how companies handle their personal data, with all but financial services below a 50% comfort level. But, when asked about all kinds of specific data items – name, email, website history, social network access, etc. – roughly 80% of our respondents were more willing to share all of these pieces of information with a brand when they trusted it.

The goal of developing these meaningful relationships was echoed among a wide range of companies at BRITE ’15:

  • The start-up Billguard now has a million people voluntarily sharing access to their financial accounts because they collectively crowdsource fraudulent activities and save each other money. Founder and CEO Yaron Samid stated that Billguard is built as a trust brand and thus it is very careful about how to use all this data and work constantly with their community to uncover what additional offers or opportunities are viewed as truly added value.
  • At The Metropolitan Museum of Art, against the Chief Digital Officer’s better judgment, a decision was made to require visitors to submit their email when connecting to the museum’s free Wi-Fi. Within a few months, however, over 100,000 valid new email addresses had entered the museum’s database. As CDO Sree Sreenivasan told the BRITE audience, “What is the lesson there, that your CDO may not know anything he is talking about… but more importantly, be open-minded with any new idea.” If you provide true value to people, they are often happy to give up some information in exchange.
  • Chris Wiggins, Chief Data Officer at The New York Times, noted that he spends less time looking at online article clicks since the paper aims to generate trusted and loyal consumers that want to support the magazine with a subscription, rather than just gather eyeballs that the company can sell advertising against.

Of course, one of the keys to building these meaningful relationships, and connecting data to provide more targeted or personalized consumer experiences, is knowing where to draw the line. As Mike Weaver, Director of Data Strategy & Precision Marketing at Coca-Cola, stated, “If I say, I know you like music and let me relate my brand to your passion, so far we think that is ok. But if I say, I know you love Taylor Swift’s new album and especially the third track on that album, then you are going to get a little creeped out and we don’t want to get anywhere near that.”

Lots of Data Won’t Be Personal

At BRITE we also noted that large swaths of the new data deluge are going to be collected not directly from people, but by devices around the world that are joining the Internet of Things. By 2050, estimates are that anywhere from 30 to 75 billion devices will be connected to the internet.

The hype around the Internet of Things is often connected to devices used by everyday consumers. And at BRITE ’15 we had the pleasure of hearing Billie Whitehouse, Founder and CEO of Wearable Experiments, talk about her company’s efforts to entwine articles of fashion with the internet. This ran from the practical – Navigate, a GPS jacket that gathers data to help guide you through major cities [video] — to the, shall we say, more entertaining side of things – Fundawear, for which you’ll just have to watch the clip [video].

But beyond this hype, the reality is that just as many, if not more, of these connected devices will be part of the industrial economy – think of areas such as transportation, city planning, and manufacturing. In a new research collaboration that David Rogers and I are conducting with SAP, we find that for most firms, the top priority in implementing an Internet of Things initiative is gaining efficiencies and cost savings, with revenue as a secondary objective.

We also found that depending on the firm’s core business case – cost savings vs. revenue – the value firms sought to extract from data collection was different. Increasing the visibility of operations or improving customer service and decision-making rose to the top in firms driven by cost-savings, while revenue-focused firms were driven by opportunities to provide more customized products and services, gather greater customer insight, and create new business models.

But for each of these companies, the top barriers in developing these initiatives were the same – data privacy and security threats. Everyone is aware that these connected devices have the potential for great benefit, but attention to the privacy and security of the data they collect is paramount to their long term success.

Conclusion

As Martin Hayward told the BRITE audience, in many markets and categories the current use of data sadly leans more towards ‘offer anarchy,’ with companies seeking only to reach more and more consumers with purely transactional deal-based opportunities, all aimed at short-term immediate sales. Our data future will hopefully be more utopian, and not draconian, if companies and their stakeholders are able to build mutual trust and a rewarding value exchange.

How are you treating your data and building your relationship with stakeholders?

BY MATTHEW QUINT


CVS Kicks The Habit and Sticks to Selling Good Heath

February 25, 2015

Health and wellness are good for the mind, body, and soul, but they are also increasingly good for business. For a retailer like CVS, where pharmacy services are at its core, you’d think this sentiment would resound throughout the company; but a couple of years ago, CVS and its Senior VP of Corporate Social Responsibility, Eileen Howard Boone, realized the brand needed to reevaluate one prominent product on its shelves: cigarettes.

With cigarettes raking in nearly $2 billion in sales, and constituting 2% of CVS’s sales (as of 2012), it’s hard to imagine eliminating this revenue stream in a low margin business. However, in October of 2014, the company rebranded its corporate name to CVS Health and became the first major U.S. drugstore to remove tobacco products from its 7,600 stores.  “The decision to stop selling cigarettes was one that came with a financial risk. Eliminating $2 billion in sales is not something that is done every day by a Fortune 12 publicly-traded company,” Ms. Howard Boone told Forbes. While publically committing to reduce near-term revenue is a tough sell for a public company, Howard Boone and CVS Health considered other serious numbers, like the approximately 430,000 deaths that are attributed to cigarette smoking annually.

For CVS Health, the business case was clear.  Providing health care services and promoting health as a core purpose would not be sustainable while selling a product that so directly competes with that aim. To Eileen Howard Boone, it’s all part of innovating and reinventing the business for the benefit of the customers. “Despite this loss in revenue, we were willing to take that risk, to ensure a positive impact on the long-term health of our customers, clients and colleagues and to advance the dialogue on public health,” she explained. It is important to note that while some cities like Boston and San Francisco ban the sale of tobacco products in pharmacies, the decision by CVS Health was completely voluntary. But many interested parties were already advocating for pharmacies to stop cigarette sales, beginning with the American Pharmacists Association in 2010. Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which focuses on public health, called CVS Health’s decision “a bold, precedent-setting move because it acknowledges that pharmacies have become healthcare settings,” and hopes it will serve as a model for other pharmacies to follow suit.

As Boone explained in a recent interview with Forbes, the company’s CSR strategy, appropriately dubbed “Prescription for a Better World,” is three-pronged: building healthier communities, protecting the planet, and creating economic opportunities. The decision to eliminate tobacco products is just the tip of the iceberg in building healthier communities. CVS has aligned themselves with community partners such as the American Lung Association’s LUNG FORCE a women’s support program to educate and promote awareness.  Like the many companies truly embracing the CSR spirit, CVS Health is ensuring its CSR initiatives go hand in hand with business strategy and key decisions that start at the top. “I’m very fortunate to have the example of our CEO, our board and our senior leadership team.  This year, they made a bold move that really showed me firsthand what it means to be a leader in the area of corporate responsibility.”

See Eileen Howard Boone speak at BRITE ’15 (March 2-3, NYC) and hear more about the the power of purpose and the strategic role of CSR as a business imperative.

BY JENNIE MILLER ’15


Under Armour Shows “I Will,” Becoming Nike’s Chief US Rival

February 18, 2015

On the last day of August 2014, NBA player Kevin Durant tweeted, “Excited and humbled to sign back with the swoosh.” This highly anticipated announcement came after months of courtship from both Under Armour and Nike, with each offering escalating bids for the coveted endorsement of the NBA superstar. Under Armour ultimately lost the bid to Nike – but its aggressive tactics left a big impression.

Under Armour CEO, Kevin Plank, stated, “If you have a deal, there’s no deal too big for us.” Under Armour topped Nike’s original bid of $200M, forcing Nike to increase its offer to $350M. “Do I take pleasure in that they paid $150 million more than they planned on paying? Absolutely.”

Though boastful, these words of confidence are rooted in business reality. In a world where Nike hasn’t faced significant challengers in US market share or endorsement deals, Under Armour is gaining momentum. At the end of 2014, Under Armour overtook Adidas and became No. 2 in US market share in the sportswear category. While Adidas’ sales fell 20-30% in apparel and shoes, Under Armour’s apparel sales grew 17%, and it’s relatively young line of shoes had a 34% bump in sales. Looking through the lens of brand strategy and marketing tactics, it is easy to see why.

Plank founded Under Armour to “build the better sports shirt” at a time when wicking materials were still rare in the category. The company continues to launch new products fueled by technological innovation thereby putting pressure on the competition. In the past few years, its portfolio has expanded to address more sportswear needs – launching shoes and a women’s line, for example. It also branded and incorporated its signature innovations (Infrared, Magzip) across its product portfolio. These efforts have created both clear brand differentiation and functional benefits to meet changing consumer expectations.

At the core of Under Armour’s brand lies its credo, a fierce, passionate call-to-action for competing and winning, encapsulated by its two-word tagline – “I will.” It has excelled at connecting its functional benefits to the emotional aspects of sports, and it developed a communications strategy that dripped with attitude and resonated with a well-defined consumer target.  Initially, this fierce image limited its appeal to a hard core male audience, but the company has ambitiously and effectively reached out to a wider base that includes women focused on fitness.

Its latest campaign, “I WILL WHAT I WANT,” has been a viral hit.  The ad features American Ballet Theatre’s Misty Copeland rehearsing while a voiceover reads a rejection letter she received at age 13 stating that she has “the wrong body for ballet.” Supporting the ad is a dedicated community website that allows women to post their fitness goals and share their progress with others.

In 2013, Plank also brought Under Armour into the fitness tracking marketplace — a category created, in part, by market leader Nike — with its purchase of MapMyFitness and its release of the Armour39 smart chest band. This January at CES, he formally launched Record, a fitness app designed to be device agnostic, extending the brand more widely into this arena. Working with HTC, the company plans to develop additional connected products for Record, but nothing formal has been announced. Plank is likely being cautious given Nike’s strategic move away from the Fuelband and additional hardware innovations.

Under Armour still has a way to go to challenge Nike, a brand that has also cultivated an image of power and achievement that resonates with athletes, both professional and amateur. On top of that, Nike demonstrated initial category leadership by developing technology enhancements and a social community of people focused on improving their fitness through Nike+. Some argue that Nike will remain unchallenged for years to come, but it is clear that the sportswear contest has shifted, and Under Armour has emerged as a powerful challenger.

BY NANCY LU ’16 and MATTHEW QUINT


How Ann Mukherjee (PepsiCo) Keeps Whetting Consumers’ Appetites

January 15, 2015
Ann Mukherjee (PepsiCo)

Ann Mukherjee (Pres., PepsiCo Global Snacks)

In the fiercely competitive and fickle beverage and snack business, you need a marketing leader with a deep understanding of the consumer landscape, an eye for innovation and the ability to delight consumers. One might argue that Ann (Anindita) Mukherjee is a “consumer whisperer” of sorts; she gets consumers and seems to be in lockstep with the latest trends in the art and science of marketing.

Mukherjee has built an impressive resume of accomplishments since joining PepsiCo and Frito-Lay in 2005, where she has advanced from VP of marketing to CMO at Frito Lay and is now President of PepsiCo’s Global Snack Group and Global Insights Group. Her leadership helped Frito-Lay reach $14 billion in sales with consistent annual growth rates higher than the global snack category as a whole.

Her most notable and enduring Frito-Lay campaigns include Doritos “Crash the Super Bowl” – the poster child for user-generated advertising –  and “Do Us a Flavor.” The “Do Us a Flavor” Facebook contest, which also leveraged consumers by helping them pitch ideas for new chip flavors, earned a 2014 GMA CPG Innovation and Creativity award. In its 9th year, Frito-Lay’s “Crash the Super Bowl”, the largest online video contest in the world, has upped the ante, with its grand prize winner not only walking away with a cool $1 million, but a year-long gig at Universal Studios. These consumer engagement tactics resonate with consumers, causing them to feel empowered to participate and seek out brands that encourage this behavior. The “Crash” ads “are really not talking about Doritos at all,” says Peter Daboll, CEO of television analytics company Ace Metrix. “They’re more like sitcoms. And viewers respond to them because they’ve got a certain authenticity, aren’t overly produced and didn’t go through five approval committees at the marketer or several remakes by an ad agency”.

But Mukherjee, who has been playfully dubbed the “Queen of Corn,” has focused on much more than advertising. As she told the New York Times in 2012, “Demographics, the aging population and changing ethnic mix, and bifurcating income are the trends reshaping the way people are eating,” Ms. Mukherjee said. “We’re snacking more often during the day, and we’re looking for snacks that are more satisfying physically and healthier.” To meet these various challenges, Frito-Lay launched new brands like Stacy’s Pita Chips and Sabra for the more health conscious, and expanded the Lays and Cheetos brands into dollar stores and other discount outlets.

In a speech at Snaxpo 2014, Murkherjee noted that, “Mass marketing no longer resonates with today’s consumer and it must be replaced by one-on-one marketing with dedicated focus on pre-shop behavior.” According to Murkherjee, research has shown that 76% of purchase decisions are influenced before consumers even start shopping, primarily in the forms of social media and consumer written reviews. As such, there are significant strides to be made in the realm of word-of-mouth marketing.

So what’s next for the now President of PepsiCo Global Snacks & PepsiCo Global Insights? The need to gain a better understanding of the ways that technology will continue to change the retail experience, and continued expansion into emerging markets. “When people think of Lay’s they think America, but actually we have some of our strongest audiences around the world,” Mukherjee says, “There are no borders anymore, we all know that. The world is global. Everyone knows that. The same is true for the potato chip.” Chew on that!

See Mukherjee speak at BRITE ’15 (March 2-3, NYC) and hear more about her efforts at PepsiCo and how to leverage the art and science of marketing.

BY JENNIE MILLER AND MATTHEW QUINT


Embodying the Craft Ethos: Bigger Doesn’t Mean Better

January 12, 2015
Heady Topper | The Unconventionals

Click for full podcast

At the Brand Center we firmly believe that a strong brand begins with a great product or service and is maintained with a clear purpose. The rapid growth of the craft beer industry is one testament to this. Listen to The Unconventionals’ latest podcast for a fascinating interview with John and Jen Kimmich, the founders of The Alchemist Brewery, a small craft brewery that embodies these sentiments. They are best known for producing Heady Topper, which is viewed as one of the best beers in the world.

The couple was running a small pub when, “People started taking our beer out… pouring pints into bottles, and capping bottles, and trading it,” John recalls, “I can’t believe some dude did that!” Hurricane Irene pummeled the company’s pub in 2011 and forced them to refocus all their efforts on building a production brewery. “We do zero marketing,” John states, “We have no marketing other than the picture on the can and what is in the can.” Despite the demand to expand, the couple isn’t interested in taking on investors, and remains happy and proud of how they help build and support their Vermont community.

The Center on Global Brand Leadership is a proud academic supporter of The Uncoventionals.

BY MATTHEW QUINT


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