Marketers have long argued that their voice should be heard in the boardroom and the CMO should be seated on the board to champion the cause of the customer throughout the business. This is the right thought. But then a senior Pepsi marketing executive goes on the stage at a swanky event in Cannes and says this about their customers
“They have this mindset of somebody who likes to live out loud – they’re more likely to clap at the end of a movie, cheer out loud at a sporting event,” he explains. “We’ve gotten very deep with understanding our consumer, which has been one of the big unlocks of really being consumer-first and consumer grounded in everything we do. “We want to really celebrate them and help them live their lives more unapologetically and feel these moments of unapologetic enjoyment with them.”
Source: The Drum 19th June 2019
This is precisely this kind of deep consumer nonsense that damages the credibility of marketers and it is why we are often not heard properly. The statement is at its best hard to understand and sounds totally detached from reality and especially when it is made at a fancy event in Cannes.
I used to work at Pepsi in the 1980’s and 1990’s we knew that the drivers of brand growth were easy to understand and hard to execute
- Product and package innovation to make the product more relevant to peoples needs
- Distribution and visibility at the point of sale to ensure people could buy it
- Share of Voice in media to keep the brand in people’s minds
- Brand icons that people would recognise
- Sponsor pop stars to get attention and memorability
- Run the Pepsi Challenge to position the product as a challenger and get trial
- Instore pricing and promotion to get attention
- Recognise that 70% of our customers also drank Coke and work out how to get their attention more often
If we talked about these things to the business team, everyone understood and agreed they were priorities. They sound business-like. The whole team worked their socks off to make it happen and market share almost doubled in 4 years as a result of their work.
Later in my career at our consultancy SYNESIS, we did research into how marketers could gain influence around the business. We found that the most effective marketers did three things.
- Spent more time with the business understanding what the business can achieve, listening and selling their ideas and less time with their agencies
- Spoke in a language that was clear businesslike and everyone could follow
- Showed they understood the financial impact of their decisions and actions
It is frustrating to see these lessons are still not being understood in some of the world’s biggest companies. I have seen a lot of other debates that show lessons are being learned about how marketers need to act if they are to be taken more seriously. The Marketing Society does great work on this subject click here
This is a subject that will be at the core of my book Attractive Thinking – The five questions that drive brand strategy and how to answer them. this is due out on 1st November click here