The NOW Gen

Maria Geremia


Is Empathy the Key to Optimizing Data?

Empathy-driven marketing and data-driven marketing are two pretty common catch-phrases in marketing these days, but should we really be thinking of them as two different things?

They may seem like opposites at first. When we think of “Big Data” we might think of giant internet monoliths watching our every move, following us everywhere, knowing everything we do before we even think it, which admittedly is not the most pleasant image. It’s intimidating, and it’s cold. On the other hand when we think of empathy maybe we think of grandma, a teddy bear, and that friend who is always there for us, listening and offering a shoulder to cry on. That image is warm and welcoming so, fair enough, two very different things.

But in this article we’re going to talk about how in order to get a full picture of the person you want to create a unique customer experience for you need to supplement your data with some empathy and your empathy with some data. To create authentic experiences that NOW Gen consumers are looking for you have to combine your cold hard data with some TLC.

Why Empathy

Empathy is generally defined as “the ability to sense other people’s emotions, coupled with the ability to imagine what someone else might be thinking or feeling.” It’s considered a key ingredient to building successful relationships because it’s how we understand the perspectives, needs, and intentions of others. 

If the definition alone isn’t enough to convince you of its importance in marketing, we have data to back it up: according to research conducted by Pepsi and IPSOS at the beginning of the pandemic 86% of Americans said that it was “critical” for brands to be more empathetic in order to build brand loyalty.  Consumers are stating clearly that they want their brands to treat them like people. 

On the Now Gen Podcast we recently talked to Jos Harrison, Global Head of Brand Experience & Design at Reckitt, and this is what he had to say about empathy: “I think that demonstrating your empathy with the person that’s trying to solve a problem can come in 70 different ways. And that’s what tends to generate those little moments of gratification, because that person feels that you actually care as a brand. You prepare to take action based on that.”

Mondelez is a great example of a company mobilizing both data and empathy, with their “empathy at scale” strategy. According to one Mondelez marketing director, “The common approach today towards targeted marketing is to use data and AI – and we are still using a lot of data and technology, but in these current times, we have found that there is a need for a lot more empathy if we want to bring our marketing to the next level.”

Why Data Alone Isn’t Enough

The word data gets tossed around an awful lot these days, and as its dictionary definition–“factual information (such as measurements or statistics) used as a basis for reasoning, discussion, or calculation,”–isn’t particularly enlightening, it’s worth taking a minute to think about what we mean when we talk about data in the context of marketing. What does data tell us and what are its limitations?

Speaking very basically, data can help us identify two critical pieces of information 1) our ideal customers and 2) the best way to reach these people. Once data identifies your ideal customer, it can help you personalize the experience that customer has with the brand. In identifying the best way to reach people marketers can more efficiently allocate their resources. There’s no denying the utility of data and we can’t underestimate its importance. According to Yale School of Management 90% of consumers consider irrelevant ads annoying, and a further 68% say that a single negative experience with a brand will make them more likely to go elsewhere.

On the podcast Jos went on to talk about the importance of “why” in the customer experience: “The purpose has to sit at the heart of the engagement between the brand and the end user because if it doesn’t have a reason to exist, why would I buy it? Why would I engage with it?”

We can’t answer these questions with data alone. The problem with data is that it only gives us half the story, or rather data doesn’t give us the story, it only tells us who the characters are. Data can tell us about the “what” but data can’t tell us “why.” Without asking who these people are, without knowing their stories how can we truly connect with them? 

With empathy, we can transform consumers and data points into real human beings with real lives and real stories. Empathy tells us the story behind the data. It fills in the two dimensional picture outlined by the numbers and it connects that data to people. Empathy puts individuality in the demographics and gives the narrative to the customer journey. 

Ironically, the way to get the best out of all our cold soulless data harvesting technology may just be to add a little human touch, some TLC, and some empathy.


CMO’S – Taking the lead in the industry

As we all know, Covid-19 accelerated digitalization by years like never before. The urge to keep brands relevant in a contactless world pushed companies to look for data-driven ways to reach customers. This behavioral shift became the key factor for CEOs in changing how they perceived CMOs.

According to Deloitte’s Marketing trends, the CMO role has gained tremendous momentum over the last 20 months. At the beginning of that period, only 46% of CMOs said they had a significant impact in C-suite conversations relating to marketing strategy. Now, this number is double at 81%. 

One of the reasons CMOs are becoming a much more essential piece across different departments is their direct access to data. The CMO’s day-to-day involves obtaining data, analyzing it, and coming up with innovative solutions across the customer journey. These actions are a necessary support to other company areas. 

Let’s take sales, for example. Before the pandemic, the sales team usually dealt with their customers face-to-face. Now, sales has to lean on the marketing team to generate leads across the digital platforms and create strategies that generate higher profits and strengthen relationships with users. 

One of the many successful examples was Coty’s Live Beauty Event with People Magazine; A 3-day event where different influencers and makeup artists from the beauty industry live-streamed tutorials, tips, and trends. During the event users were able to buy the products from the brands’ Ecomm platforms and access exclusive content afterward. This campaign was one way for sales and marketing to join forces and turn social media into an accessible experience for customers.  

CMOs and marketing leaders have also become critical players in predicting the future of a company according to the demands of today’s world. However, as the industry’s environment is constantly changing, CMOs must go a step further by becoming top strategists with a global vision and having the ability to implement a cultural shift across every area of their companies with the help of the available data.  

CMOs have to be the ultimate professionals delivering the right content to their over-saturated users. A skilled CMO has the power to use traditional channels intelligently to create much more relevant, compelling, and actionable content for customers in a much more agile way than other departments.  Fernando Machado, CMO of Activision Blizzard, suggests, «If you continue to play safe unless you have an outrageous amount of budget, people aren’t even going to notice,» meaning that creativity is, and will always be, an essential asset for brands. It’s the window for creating relevant solutions.

Learn more on how CPG CMOs are changing the game to win 2022 in our White Paper. Download it for FREE here:


CPGs and the Importance of Being Flexible

Have you heard of the “New Resignation,» or «Big Quit?” Well, it’s happening now. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 4.4 million people walked away from their jobs in September.

COVID-19 gave people time to rethink what they want in life, to test what works for them, and even to change careers. One of the main reasons is because they are in search of flexibility. The days where it was normal to work 40+ hours in the office are disappearing. Now, 63% of college-educated employees are working remotely. This trend also gives companies, especially CPGs, a chance to integrate work methods based on diverse thinking, insightful strategies, collaboration, and flexibility.

These recent changes have driven the need for companies to provide a flexible, hybrid alternative, and to offer a more enriching environment and support system. Companies are being pushed toward valuing more than just the work. Bill Beck, CMO of health insurance company Anthem, redesigned a creative platform that reminded people of the importance of being together since face-to-face collaboration is a critical part of the creative process. His team came together to think through the execution of the forum as a turning point in the project’s development, where markets work towards a common goal to unlock creative potential.

The new hiring

As data is becoming the central pillar of customer strategy, marketers are demanding more analytical profiles that take the data available and turn it into opportunities to deliver brand messages at the right moment in a user’s life.

Data even helps brands to push their purpose forward. Data scientists show marketers that they too can be a source of creativity because they can create connections between the vast amount of data available, and create a solution that will work for users and brands.

This change of behavior does not mean that creatives are no longer needed. In fact, CPGs are creating collaborative models where different talents, from technical to analytical, come together for creative and strategic purposes. CPGs know and value what each talent can bring to the table working together and creating solutions for the greater good of their brands.

More platforms, more partners

The adoption of digital platforms, the surge of e-commerce, and the latest consumer trends are encouraging companies to lean on a vast network of cost-efficient talent and providers. Companies are also looking for innovative solutions and fresher ideas using contests and crowdsourcing, which help marketers and C-suites reach their commercial objectives.

A global and agile hub

It can be challenging and frustrating to find the proper talent structure, especially if a company is not fulfilling its commercial objectives. Instead of redesigning an entire organization, CPGs are going smaller, First, they work to understand what is happening inside the customer journey. Then, flaws are identified, which reveal opportunities in each touchpoint. Finally, they make suitable acquisitions and find the right partner who will work toward fulfilling an objective.

Marketers are also working to increase coherence across markets. One example is setting up a global design hub that allows different needs to share[A1], upload, and download the same design elements and assets required. This ensures that the brand has consistency in the same communication and goals.

Discover more strategies and what CPGs are doing to win 2022 in our latest white paper, where we share our expertise from working with our CPG clients for more than 18 years. Put your brand on top of its game. Download it for free here:


CPGs are going micro, and here’s why

Influencers are proving throughout all platforms that they are becoming necessary for brands that want to connect in a more authentic and more profound level with their audiences; this is why just recently released figures show that the value of the industry has more than doubled since 2019, growing from $6.5 billion to $13.8 billion in only three years.

In the following years, marketers are reporting to use almost 20% of their budget for influencer marketing, an ever-increasing number never seen before; this might be related to the fact that during the pandemics, people stay more time at home, connected to their devices, and discovering more content that relates to them. This behavior hasn’t changed; in fact, it’s stronger than ever, only this time, many are turning to micro-influencers rather than the big huge celebrities we see on the internet.

When it comes to marketing and brand managers, micro-influencers are becoming the spotlight on their strategies, but before showing you the many benefits of hiring them in your next campaign, let’s know a bit about them.

  • A micro-influencer has a follower count from 5k to 50k.
  • Their focus of the content is to create a mega loyal, relatable, influential niche audience. 
  • They have the flexibility to manage their content and connect with their followers more directly.
  • They are experts in making creative, unique content that generates higher engagement rates than macro-influencers and celebrities.
  • Their message is peer-to-peer, not peer to an admirer, and this is because a micro-influencer also lives the life of their followers; they try new food, go to new places, work a typical job, and are more transparent.

So how can they be beneficial for your brand?

Consistent communication

Brand loyalty is facing an all-time low for many brands, and one-off campaigns cannot raise numbers alone, so establishing always-on influencer marketing with micro-influencers can help ensure that your brand stays on top of mind. The idea here is to let influencers create constant content that will appear in consumers’ feeds and stories during their moments of need (but without sounding too promo or organic storytelling).

Higher ROI.

Micro-influencers are a low-cost solution for brands and show a higher ROI and reach of business because of the trust they build with their followers. It’s better to hire a couple of micro-influencers that will help connect to loyal audiences and will help deliver the right message for different segmentations, rather than a big celebrity that will mostly speak to everyone but will not create any strong bond.

More Top-of-funnel Traffic and sales.

Micro-influencers are becoming effective partners for any type of business. Their originality and relatability have helped drive top-of-funnel traffic and sales, so having a close relationship with them, sharing your brand story, listening to what they offer, and trusting in their content ideas will only make your revenue grow.

Brand advocacy and audience insights.

As we mentioned before, micro-influencers are skilled to reach users with the same share of values and personal points of view linked to their followers’ passions. Therefore, aligning your goals while leaving a space that will allow the micro-influencer to create a strategy to maximize your results and ask for feedback from their audience will enrich you with real insights for your future campaigns.

How can you find the right Micro-influencer for you?

Brands need to look through their followers on social media and find if there’s a micro-influencer that could be potential. If their content aligns with your brand objectives and it’s interested in sharing their lifestyle with your brand.

Once you find them, appreciate their content, follow them, and engage them through direct messages, they will likely respond quickly and be available for you, even if they are an ongoing campaign.

You can find more insights and strategies that CPGs apply to win the market in 2022 in our latest white paper. You can download it for free here:


Invest in online data-driven experiences and win your market 

According to the 2021 Gartner CIO Survey, 63% of retailers (including CPGs) expect to spend more of their marketing budget on business intelligence solutions and data analytics, as well as  35% more on artificial intelligence solutions. This number is predicted to continue growing in the near and distant future. The cause for this uptick is due to the recognition by company owners of strong data strategies having a positive impact on customer relationships. 

CPGs use these key factors to achieve a positive data-driven marketing impact. 

1 – Utilize predictions and prescriptive insights for a 360-degree view of consumers and opportunities for growth.

2 – Measure the impact of message delivery in moments that matter to consumers. 

3 – Have access to custom data and technology that enables a customer-centric strategy. 

4 – Have access to flexible and agile operating models for faster and efficient deliveries. 

5 – Build capabilities through infrastructure and talent to scale impact. 

We live in an age of precision. Companies need pertinent information relating to the time their customers are interacting with their company, such as when they are exploring, clicking, and purchasing. Company owners are able to utilize behavioral and demographic data to uncover their ideal audience and target their intended demographic with relevant messaging. Categories like baby and beauty use loyalty sites where they offer tips, coupons, or try-ons. These efforts pay off. Successful brands that apply a data-driven strategy acquire users that will 7x more likely to stay with the brand and 8x will spend their money with them, as well as  recommend it. 

Approaching a data-driven strategy with the help of creativity and storytelling will help crack the codes for a more targeted and engaging interaction, enabling companies to allocate their online budgets smartly. Here are some examples of how a data-driven mindset helps companies invest in relevant experiences and platforms for their customers. 

Integrate new and engaging touchpoints – On International Friendship Day, Coca-Cola boosted its presence with its first-ever NFT (Non-Fungible Token) collectibles, auctioned as a single «loot box» through the OpenSea online marketplace. This is an example of how studying the culture, working collectively with AI, and being there in real-time helps brands create engaging and new experiences that customers will value. 

Relevant content for the right time – Having a deep knowledge of the trends that everybody knows and the moments where consumers search for solutions for their everyday lives helps you create relevant content that will help build a more solid relationship with users. A great example is Unilever’s, a site that provides customers with tips, tricks, and advice for cleaning homes and keeping families safe. At the same time, users can access exclusive benefits and discounts from their favorite brands. This action had attracted more than 28 million visitors to date and was relevant during Covid-19. 

Having a new Ecomm platform– We all know Amazon is the king of online retailing. Nonetheless, Covid-19 has boosted online sales up to 70%. This is an opportunity for brands to play across different channels where potential consumers will be, like marketplaces, and create new DTC sites. One example of this is Pepsico’s, offering exclusive bundles and snacks according to the user’s daily moments at home. 

Product innovations – A data-driven strategy also leads to product innovations or rethinking packaging that delights the online shopper and remains cost-effective across the supply chain. For example, P&G’s Tide created the Eco-Box, an ultra-concentrated formula is delivered in a compact cardboard box. Once peeled, there’s a dosing cup, a no-drip twist cap, and even pull-out legs for flat surfaces! 

Nowadays, there’s so much data available that it’s not about how much data a company has, but how they will use it to create a deeper relationship with their customers. It’s constant learning and updating of processes that require agility, new collaborative, and flexible work methods.  But, most importantly, a company owner needs to have an open mindset that embraces technology and uses it for the benefit of its users, their company, and their purpose. Discover in our newest White Paper the latest work models that CPGs are adapting and what tools they are applying for the 2022 marketing challenges. Read for FREE here:


Turn your Brand’s Experience into Revenue

Remember Cat Stevens’s «Wild World» song? A “wild world” describes the industry today as capturing consumers’ attention becomes more challenging than ever.

You only have seconds to win against the scrolling. 

Competitors are everywhere. It’s a battlefield.

What’s your game plan? 

According to Salesforce’s «State of the Connected Customer» report, 63 percent  of consumers will pay more for a great experience, and 72 percent will share those good experiences with their friends. In other words, companies with a customer-centric experience incorporated into their sales journey have greater revenue than the ones who don’t. 

If you want to get started with immersive experiences for your brand, it is essential to know your product or service’s purpose and integrate it holistically into your target customer’s daily life.  

The way customers see technology is changing dramatically. They are ready to embrace new tech products and services in their daily lives, not because they are considered «cool,» but because they can creatively solve challenges faced every day at work, in school, and at home.

But how? 

AI, 3D, and immersive experiences are excellent tools for improving eCommerce KPIs. It’s why every day we see CPGs and the biggest brands in the industry investing in immersive innovations. For example, IKEA’s implementation of Augmented Reality in its App IKEA Place, allows users to virtually test their products and furnishings at home and buy the products in the App. This experience had led to an eCommerce sales boost of 43 percent this year. 

If you want to increase your company’s conversion, try using AI to educate and demonstrate to your customer the product which suits their needs. For example, Nike developed «The Nike Maker Experience,» which, with the help of AI, lets users customize and create a pair of Nikes and have them ready in only a few hours! Exceeding customers’ expectations in innovative ways leads to better engagement rates and shareability. 

AI also helps reduce bounce rates. Social media and over-exposition have decreased human attention spans to as little as eight seconds; a short time for your brand to highlight your products, and even worse if there are unlimited amounts of information and content that can overshadow your brand. Still, when it comes to AR experiences, 50 percent of users spend more than two minutes of interaction. Using AR in rich media or on your website will win you time to show more about your brand and product, and if your experience is engaging, you can get potential customers from existing customers through “word of mouth,” turning more leads into even greater sales. 

Immersive technologies are now considered new interfaces and are the perfect tools for brands to deliver one-of-a-kind experiences that resonate with customers. Discover the latest information in our White Paper, «How Giant CPGs Will Handle Marketing Challenges in 2022» Inside, you will discover a variety of experiences and ideas CPGs are applying to their marketing strategies to win in 2022. Read it for FREE here: ( ).