Engaging Consumers in a Complex World: A New Era of Marketing with People at the Core

February 28, 2013

Imagine doing your grocery shopping virtually while waiting for the metro home. Imagine shopping for your favorite beauty products whilst in a taxi on your way to a runway show or drinks with friends during New York Fashion Week. These are no longer fantasies.

Marketing has fundamentally changed over the last five years and marketers need to adapt if they are going to be successful. This was an overarching theme during the Yale Center for Customer Insights Conference on January 25, 2013.

But, you ask, how exactly has marketing changed?

First, there is more data today than ever before. Measuring is critical, not optional. As a result, marketing strategies are increasingly personalized. Tom Arrix, VP US Marketing Solutions at Facebook, posited that “2010 is the era of marketing with people at the core… [Marketing is] about answering Who do I care about? What do I care about?” Tom and Kevin Ryan, Founder and CEO of Gilt Groupe, agreed that marketers must leverage technology to reach consumers in new and different ways. Gilt Groupe, for instance, customizes its communications to consumers based on browsing and purchasing behaviors. While customization itself is not a novel concept, the extent to which Gilt Groupe is able to tailor daily deals, email messages, and web-interface, as well as measure sales, is revolutionary. I find it really exciting that technology allows us to measure consumer behavior like never before.

Second, the path to purchase is evolving and marketers must engage consumers through a wide-range of promotions and places. For someone (yours truly) who has a major Groupon addiction, this rings particularly true! Marc Speichert, CMO of L’Oreal USA, gave pertinent examples on how the beauty company is changing its approach to better capture consumers along this evolving path. By curating video content, collaborating with beauty bloggers, and allowing passengers in New York taxi cabs to make purchases from their seats, L’Oreal is using technology in innovative ways that move with the consumer. One of the most exciting examples of innovations that Marc shared was a South Korean grocery chain that gives its customers the ability to shop for their groceries virtually while they wait for their train home!

Third, the world has become flatter and, thus, more interconnected. Anil Menon, President of Globalization and Smart+ Connected Communities at Cisco Systems, discussed the complex challenge of marketing in an interconnected globe. Anil’s message was clear: “The world is changing. The challenge is how will we change business as usual because people in India and China won't consume the way we'd expect? There are new business models emerging and marketing becomes ‘Big M’ Marketing in this context.” Beth Hirschhorn argued that brand authenticity is key. Marketers need to answer the question: “Can a brand be both global and solve local market problems? ...Global branding is more than just a common tag line — it is a singular global brand promise.”

The bottom line is that as consumers gain voice in an interconnected globe, the marketers of tomorrow have to learn to think in an integrated way about engaging consumers wherever they may be. The marketers of tomorrow must find innovative ways of forging relationships with consumers.

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About the author

Neha Govil

Internship: Unilever