The NOW Gen

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The New Brick-and-Mortar: Social Commerce

As a society, we constantly look for more convenient ways to cover our need for speed. During the COVID pandemic, formulated marketing strategies to supply consumers’ need for instant gratification were established, like e-commerce and its successor, social commerce. 

Social Commerce started appearing in the U.S. a couple of years ago on popular social media platforms. Although social commerce can be new and confusing for many marketers and brands out there, social commerce has come into existence quite seamlessly in the past years. 

Social commerce, stemming from eCommerce, refers to the shopping experience that occurs directly on a social media platform like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and even TikTok. This trend relates directly to the time consumers spend on social media platforms. 

According to Forbes’ article “The Future Of Selling Is Social: Social Commerce Vs. E-Commerce,” consumers spend more time on mobile apps than web browsers. Making social media platforms a most powerful advertising tool than any search engine. “Given that consumers spend more time on mobile apps than on their mobile web browsers, wishful thinking may imply an indirect paradigm shift away from Google, as the world’s most powerful advertising platform, to Facebook.”  

The NOW Gen is all about using social media for entertainment, communication, staying in the loop of news and trends, learning, and even commerce. This instant-gratification-looking generation has made the swift move from traditional e-commerce to social commerce because it feels natural to instantly shop what you are discovering in your social media timelines. The seamless addition of social commerce to the consumer’s routine of social media usage will allow its growth and fulfillment.

In the past couple of years, various social media platforms, from Facebook to Twitter, have invested in features to facilitate selling products. These people-connecting platforms are now integrating live stream events, digital stores, and more to become a selling point to its users. 

Social commerce for the U.S. is still in its early stages, but it is expected to be just as big as in the Asian markets. On the other side of the globe, specifically in China, social commerce is a popular trend amongst social media users. “About 51.5% … of social media users have or continue to purchase via a social media channel.” It is no surprise, since China is also the global eCommerce market’s leader, that they are also leading this social commerce trend globally. “China continues to lead the global e-commerce market, accounting for 52.1% of all retail e-commerce sales worldwide, with total online sales just over the $2 trillion mark in 2021. It also has the world’s most digital buyers, 824.5 million, representing 38.5% of the global total.”

Many brands are getting on social commerce because the consumer is asking for it. As mentioned above, the NOW generation is known for its need for instant gratification. Therefore, the paramount convenience of social commerce is immediacy. 

Consumers are also looking for “mouth-to-mouth” product recommendations, and social commerce allows them to hear directly from brand ambassadors. The social shopping experience is richer than a regular shopping experience. With added social factors, consumers can seamlessly complement their social interactions with the brands they know, trust, and hear from new products or brands.  

As Ad Age has mentioned in their article, “Shopping Trends Every Marketer Should Embrace In 2022”, getting on board with the social commerce experience will give consumers the convenience and engagement they are looking for. “Expanding virtual shopping experiences appearing on social platforms will entice consumers who want a more engaging and convenient way to shop online. The in-store experience will never look the same as everything from easing curbside pickup to concierge services to enhanced AR/VR visualizations will become normal features. Moving forward, brands that engage directly with consumers via content and creator-influenced experiences that come enabled with commerce functionality will capture significant market share.”

Brands are learning from China to implement social commerce strategies. Some trends you can look out for include: video, live stream shopping, live chat, and social influencers. The consumer is looking for these things to be convinced that your product, and brand, is the best option. If you are looking to join the social commerce movement, consider the following ideas:

Choose the right platform and format to showcase your business. It is critical to understand what social platform is used more by your consumer segment. Also, evaluate how you will present your products on social media, now your newest storefront.

Prioritize quality visuals. The social media consumer is constantly flooded with thousands of videos on social media. Your business needs to stand out from the rest to make an impactful shopping experience. Take your time to tailor these assets for your brand and product.

Finally, although this new way of commerce is significantly increasing in our markets, don’t forget to constantly evaluate and adjust your strategy. With the NOW generation, speed and change are crucial to success. Social commerce is here to stay; take advantage of it. 

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Beating Stereotypes: Diversity and Inclusion for the NOW Gen

There is a lot of talk about diversity, equity, and inclusion going on globally. This isn’t about fitting the global trend to our companies but joining the NOW generation in this matter. 

In previous blog posts, we have addressed this global issue, and it continues to be an essential topic for the NOW generation. NOW Gen brands are in the middle of this conversation and are focusing on making a real change.

NOW Gen brands have a unique opportunity to change history with respect to diversity, equity, inclusion, systemic discrimination and racism, just like they are changing history by moving us into the digital age, but without DEI transformation, digital transformation won’t be any transformation at all.” 

In a recent SXSW panel titled “Beyond Black Stereotypes: Redefining Black Fatherhood,” Kendricks Thacker shared some insights about what needs to be done to incorporate better DEI practices. He said that brands couldn’t just start talking when convenient, especially when they wade into topics they never previously championed. 

“Don’t say nothing, if you haven’t said anything before,” Thacker said. “In those cases, the best a brand can do is listen, and donate their platforms to voices that understand the issues.” 

As Thacker mentioned in this panel, to overcome the stereotypes of adapting DEI practices incorrectly, we must first learn to listen to those in the middle of the issue and understand their movements. We must not act before we think because DEI is not a vane issue and its impact on our society goes beyond participating as a brand or not.

With change comes trial and error; it will be utopic to believe that just making one change will forever change the global conversation. However, making this kind of amendment will often make us face errors. For example, DE&I has been one of the main focuses for many global companies for a while now. And although inclusion is vital to this global change, the mistake we are making is stereotyping that inclusivity. So from being stereotypical in the ways we present our DEI to making inclusion a stereotype. 

In the case of DEI, stereotypes are fogging our judgment and blinding our inclusion. We are so used to boxing people according to their race, gender, religion, and even their jobs that we see individuals as groups of people. Stereotypes have been known to humans for a long time now, and much work has been done to eradicate them in society, but the truth is that stereotyping is more natural to our minds than we can imagine. We could blame heuristics for this, but the truth is we can all do better. 

Heuristics, where stereotyping begins, are useful mental shortcuts that help us navigate life. These rule-of-thumb strategies help us shorten decision-making time and allow us to function without constantly wondering what needs to happen next. Overall, heuristics is a fantastic tool called “common sense,” but the downside is that it can lead to inaccurate judgments or biases, like stereotypes.

Theoretically, we should replace stereotypes with actual knowledge. Realistically, stereotypes are seldom challenged unless something creates a reason to change them. But this current DEI issue is a practical reason to make an effort to break from assumptions and demolish stereotypes. As Now gen brands encounter these roadblocks, they must stick to their DEI efforts and strive to make changes happen. 

“The past year has shed light on what many people already knew: Much of the onus (obligations) of diversity, equity and inclusion was on the appointed DE&I leader, who historically often worked in isolation to carry out these objectives.”

In short, as companies, we must find ways to set objectives to beat stereotypes and be more inclusive. Still, we must learn to hear those affected by the situation and work together to impact how they are perceived in society positively. In the eyes of The NOW Generation, being inclusive speaks volumes, and as the saying goes: actions say more than words.

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Can Marketers Really Make a Difference?

Less than three months into 2022, which has started with as much gusto as the first two years of the decade, presenting us with not only a resurgent pandemic, but a land war in Europe for the first time since World War II (this time with nukes, how fun), we’re going to try to take a break from a new season of doom scrolling and get super positive in order to answer the rhetorical question: “Can Marketers Really Make a Difference?” The answer is an emphatic yes! Yes! YES! Marketers can make a difference, and they can’t just take that for granted; consumers are demanding that marketers make a difference, and the long-term success of their brands depend on it. 

First, let’s talk about the stats. According to McKinsey, 68% of consumers say their social values shape their purchasing decisions. IPSOS has also found that approximately 70% of consumers tend to buy brands that align with their personal values, and in the UK, France and the US this number has increased by at least 15% in the last 10 years. IPSOS and McKinsey are not alone. Edelman has found that consumers want CEOs to speak out on social issues, and Taluna has found that almost 60% of consumers believe “it is the responsibility of brands and manufacturers to drive change in society and better support social issues.

As for issues themselves, we’ve already talked a lot here about the importance of DEI. “Digital Transformation without DEI is no transformation at all,” talked about the moral imperative of DEI, and in “Talk is Cheap: Consumers Demand DEI Action” we cited the data, which speaks for itself: 

“According to Facebook IQ 71% of NOW Gen consumers expect brands to promote DEI in their advertising. According to Microsoft 70% of Gen Z consumers are more trusting of brands that show diversity. A study conducted by The Female Quotient, Google, and IPSOS found that 64% of NOW Gen consumers took some action after seeing an ad that incorporated DEI. That same study found that 69% of Black consumers were more likely to purchase from a brand whose ads positively represented their race, and that 71% of LGBTQ consumers were more likely to click ads that authentically represent their sexual orientation. Furthermore, 75% of Gen Z consumers will end relationships with companies that run ad campaigns perceived as macho, racist, or homo­phobic. These statistics pretty much speak for themselves, and the trend is that DEI is only becoming more important to consumers.”

As we have already discussed in detail, DEI is not just a business imperative but a moral one and companies that turn their backs on the opportunity this cultural moment presents will be left behind. When it comes to DEI, marketers don’t just have the opportunity to create change but a responsibility, and most importantly those who have accepted the challenge are making a difference

Sustainability and reducing environmental harm are two other major issues for consumers. In fact, according to Google, 78% of consumers think big brands must play a role in fighting climate change. Marketers in turn have a duty to inform consumers about what companies are doing to fight climate change and spread the message that action to fight climate change is possible. Data shows that consumers are willing to pay a premium for sustainable CPGs. In 2022 consumers are going to continue to demand that brands turn everything on its head to have the most minimal environmental impact possible.” Fifty-nine percent of consumers say they prefer buying from brands that are addressing the climate emergency, and “91% wish to see brands ‘show by example’ and demonstrate the actions they are taking to support the planet.”

While all of this data shows there is strong consumer demand for these types of initiatives, the recent Unilever kerfuffle is illustrative of the fact that not everyone agrees that brands should be trying to do things to make the world a better place. Unilever is loud and proud about its commitment to sustainability. It says that it is “working towards a better, fairer, greener world for all,” and that “taking action on climate change is taking action on human rights.” Recently one of their shareholders took issue with the strategy, and it generated a lot of press, but an equal amount of backlash. In the end, it boils down to a political argument between those with a vision  of a soulless capitalism trundling blindly forward in the name of short term shareholder profit and those that think the purpose of capitalism “is to produce profitable solutions to problems of people and planet.” That debate won’t be settled anytime soon.

But to frame “brand purpose” as somehow anti-capitalist is absurd, and the debate is founded on the basis of a false choice. Whether to pursue a “brand purpose” or to work towards sustainability and human rights is a strategic choice. And as all the data above shows, the strategic choice for brands to move to sustainable practices and to support DEI would be based on meeting consumer demand. That old dichotomy of supply and demand might sound a little old-fashioned, but it’s rather new that multinational corporations who adjust their strategies to meet consumer demand might be accused of being anti-capitalist. The Unilever debate mentioned above may well be better framed not as a debate over brand purpose but whether brands should dedicate themselves to shareholder demand rather than consumer demand, which would be way way way beyond the scope of this article. 

Since “behavioral science teaches us that when we feel positive about our actions, we are more motivated to continue to act” we are going to try and crank up the positivity here. As all the overwhelming weight of data shows, consumers are demanding that brands take action when it comes to making changes to make the world a better place. As marketers, it’s our job to communicate with consumers and when consumers are communicating to bring that message to the c-suite and to make sure that consumers are heard and that brands are delivering what consumers want. Consumers are telling brands what they want and the only question is whether brands will listen. In this historical moment, marketers really do have an opportunity to “make a difference. Marketers can really make a difference and they should.

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Digital Transformation without DEI is no transformation at all

Digital Transformation without DEI is no transformation at all; social inclusion and kindness are 2 musts for a successful digital recipe.

In 2020 Americans experienced two events that at the time everyone thought would change the world forever: the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and the historic protests following the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minnesota police. But last Sunday’s Super Bowl, in which brands paid $484.7 million for 42 minutes of advertising–possibly the most notable of which having been a retro-looking QR code bouncing around old-school-screen-saver style, sending people to a crypto-currency site they ended up crashing–during a game where “End Racism” was written in the endzones, culminating the season for a league currently being sued for systemic discrimination against minority coaches, raises the question about how much things have really changed.

Brands didn’t hesitate to transform themselves in the face of the pandemic. Necessity is the mother of all innovation to paraphrase a cliche. According to KPMG’s Global Head of Advisory, thanks to the pandemic, “The move to digitization has accelerated, and the benefits will be permanent…There is no going back.” McKinsey data suggests that 80% of consumer interactions have moved online and that the pandemic has caused a quantum leap, having sped up digital adaptation by several years. Deloitte says that “to grow and thrive in a post-COVID-19 world, swift digital transformation into a pandemic-proof organizational model is vital,” and the pandemic even inspired notoriously slow CPGs to accelerate their strategies

The move to digital as a response to the pandemic has been indisputable and unanimous, and it makes sense. Consumers are demanding that companies meet them where they are and that they deliver personalized experiences. Approximately 75% of consumers experimented with new shopping behaviors because of the pandemic and 80% of them expect to continue with those behaviors. Consumers are increasingly demanding more personalized experiences and expect to experience them digitally.

While DEI has grown in importance, the change in the wake of the George Floyd protests is more of a mixed bag. It wasn’t all bad at the Super Bowl. For the first time in the history of Super Bowl advertisements, “female BIPOC representation (46%) and male BIPOC representation (41%) mirrored the 38% BIPOC US population,” and we saw the first hip-hop act to headline a history making and extremely well received halftime show. Those bright spots, however are probably overshadowed by the fact that the NFL is currently being sued for systemic discrimination. The NFL isn’t alone. In the last month Tesla has been sued by California for systemic discrimination in its factories and Spotify has been in the news for all the wrong reasons because of racist comments made by its most popular podcast host. 

In our last blog post, Talk is Cheap: Consumers Demand DEI Action, we dropped a lot of data about how consumers are demanding DEI action, just like they are demanding digital transformation.

“Research is basically unanimous that consumers want more diversity. According to Facebook IQ 71% of NOW Gen consumers expect brands to promote DEI in their advertising. According to Microsoft 70% of Gen Z consumers are more trusting of brands that show diversity. A study conducted by The Female Quotient, Google, and IPSOS found that 64% of NOW Gen consumers took some action after seeing an ad that incorporated DEI. That same study found that 69% of Black consumers were more likely to purchase from a brand whose ads positively represented their race, and that 71% of LGBTQ consumers were more likely to click ads that authentically represent their sexual orientation. Furthermore, 75% of Gen Z consumers will end relationships with companies that run ad campaigns perceived as macho, racist, or homo­phobic. These statistics pretty much speak for themselves, and the trend is that DEI is only becoming more important to consumers.”

The data raises a rather unfortunate question: in the face of equally pressing consumer demands, why can brands make monumental changes at speeds never before seen in the realm of digital transformation, but they can’t do the same in addressing issues of systemic racism and discrimination? In a famous New Yorker essay, Letter from a Region in My Mind, James Baldwin theorized that “America, of all the Western nations, has been best placed to prove the uselessness and the obsolescence of the concept of color. But it has not dared to accept this opportunity, or even to conceive of it as an opportunity.” 

Some brands do see the opportunity, and they’re making changes. Levi-Strauss says that “Digital Transformation Depends on Diversity,” and in the eponymous article they lay-out several strategies to combat discrimination that results directly from digital transformation. Google’s Super Bowl ad spoke directly to how their technology takes into account the difficulties some people have in being photographed emphasizing that their product makes sure that “everyone feels seen.” Hershey’s, for example, has created a new position, Chief Diversity Officer, that already boasts a laundry list of DEI focused action and initiatives. We wholeheartedly applaud these brands and their efforts, but it has to be said that a handful of brands alone won’t make a difference.

As no other writer has described as deftly the problems of race  U.S., we leave you with another classic quote from the great James Baldwin: 

“Everything now, we must assume, is in our hands; we have no right to assume otherwise. If we—and now I mean the relatively conscious whites and the relatively conscious blacks, who must, like lovers, insist on, or create, the consciousness of the others—do not falter in our duty now, we may be able, handful that we are, to end the racial nightmare, and achieve our country, and change the history of the world. If we do not now dare everything, the fulfillment of that prophecy, re-created from the Bible in song by a slave, is upon us: God gave Noah the rainbow sign, No more water, the fire next time!”

NOW Gen brands have a unique opportunity to change history with respect to diversity, equity, inclusion, systemic discrimination and racism, just like they are changing history by moving us into the digital age, but without DEI transformation, digital transformation won’t be any transformation at all. 

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Talk is Cheap: Consumers Demand DEI Action

NOW Gen consumers want more than lip service from brands when it comes to DEI and anti-racism efforts.

DEI stands for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and lots of people are talking about DEI. People talk about DEI in boardrooms, in schools, on TV, in movies, on the radio, in science, in sports, in journalism, in literature, and, of course, in marketing. DEI talk is literally everywhere, which is a good thing, but talk is not enough.

What is DEI?

In breaking down DEI into its parts it’s useful to start with a metaphor. Imagine the world as a big dance, like prom or homecoming. Diversity means that everyone is invited to the dance. Equity means that everybody has an equal opportunity to dance, and Inclusion means that everybody is able to contribute to the dance’s playlist. Pretty simple and if it was implemented as easily, the world would be a happier place.

Diversity in marketing means that different voices are heard and that each group is spoken to. In an age where personalization is increasingly more important, consumers really don’t like to be sent messages that aren’t applicable to them, and, on the flip side, consumers are more likely to respond positively to brands that portray the groups they’re a part of in a positive way. Diversity means that everyone can find themselves and people like them represented. 

Equity means that within this wide group of diverse people each different identity and every perspective is treated equally. It means that not only is everyone represented but that within this framework each group has an equal opportunity to participate, and that each voice and each experience is valued equally. 

Inclusion is pretty literal and Inclusion is where the real action happens. It means more than just that everyone is equally represented. It means that all voices and all perspectives are included. Inclusion means that different voices and different perspectives are actively sought out, listened to, and incorporated equitably. It means that the myriad identities and perspectives of all consumers play an active role in development and decision making and pushing conversations about the things that matter to people further.

Why DEI is important

There’s two simple reasons why DEI is important: it’s good for the bottom line and it’s the right thing to do.

Research is basically unanimous that consumers want more diversity. According to Facebook IQ 71% of NOW Gen consumers expect brands to promote DEI in their advertising. According to Microsoft 70% of Gen Z consumers are more trusting of brands that show diversity. A study conducted by The Female Quotient, Google, and IPSOS found that 64% of NOW Gen consumers took some action after seeing an ad that incorporated DEI. That same study found that 69% of Black consumers were more likely to purchase from a brand whose ads positively represented their race, and that 71% of LGBTQ consumers were more likely to click ads that authentically represent their sexual orientation. Furthermore, 75% of Gen Z consumers will end relationships with companies that run ad campaigns perceived as macho, racist, or homo­phobic. These statistics pretty much speak for themselves, and the trend is that DEI is only becoming more important to consumers.

DEI goes beyond consumerism. DEI is about social justice and building a society in which all people are treated equally, where everyone feels safe and where everyone feels they have the opportunity to achieve the things they want. DEI is also about curing the very real harms of systemic racism. Still, in the United States of America in the year 2022, more than half of black and brown consumers report that they have felt discriminated against in a store. There is simply no reason to justify this and brands should be doing everything in their power to change it. When you add the statistics about how consumers are demanding that brands use their power to support DEI, there is simply no reason for brands not to be leading the way in helping create a more equitable and inclusive society. As James Baldwin once said: “And once you realize that you can do something, it would be difficult to live with yourself if you didn’t do it.”

Why Talk is not Enough

While it is undoubtedly important that brands send the right message to their consumers and their communities by speaking out in favor of DEI and against racism, talk is not enough. In the wake of the protests following the brutal killing of George Floyd, many brands made promises about their commitments to DEI. People are not going to forget these promises. Consumers want brands to make measurable DEI commitments. They want brands to ensure that their teams and suppliers reflect the community that they serve and that diverse voices are made a part of the conversation. They don’t just want culturally sensitive and culturally informed messaging, they want customer intimacy, they want concrete action, and they want to see change. Soon DEI is going to be part of every conversation, and if brands are talking the talk without walking the walk, people are going to notice

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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.

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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:

https://121corp.com/white-paper

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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: https://121corp.com/white-paper

CPG

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: https://121corp.com/white-paper

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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 cleanipedia.com, 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 PantryShop.com, 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: https://121corp.com/white-paper