Episode 65 of Landscape Digital Show reveals why experiences are bigger than products when digital innovation drives marketing.
This short episode is a study of recent changes in the world of marketing that will give you ideas for ensuring the relevance of your business marketing for your audience.
The event that best profiles these insights is the recent elimination of the Chief Marketing Officer role at Coca-Cola (better known as the CMO). The significance of this event can be traced to the influences of digital innovation on marketing.
Former Coca-Cola CMO Marcos de Quinto led a product-based marketing strategy at the global marketing organization. That emphasis on product marketing ultimately proved to be the impetus for shaking up Coke’s management structure.
The truth is many consumers today are less interested in product features, probably because they cannot distinguish them from the competition. Nowadays it’s the contextual customer experience that is desired most, and this suggests the product is merely an introduction to something greater.
In fact, Coca-Cola’s CEO James Quincy stated, “The Coca-Cola Company has to be bigger than brand Coca-Cola.” He elaborates, “The brand Coca-Cola will always be the heart and soul of the Coca-Cola Company, but the company needs to be bigger than its core brand.”
That’s interesting, but how exactly does marketing interpret bigger so that it can give it life?
To accomplish this initiative, the CEO’s direct reports will be a Chief Growth Officer, a Chief Innovation Officer, and a Chief Information Officer, with the Information Officer being charged with “increasing visibility and focus on efforts to digitize all aspects of the company’s business.”
The significance of the Growth and Innovation Officers is that in order to transcend its core brand, Coca-Cola intends to become a “growth oriented and consumer-centered organization.” Let’s take a closer look at that.
A Growth Oriented Business is Data-Driven
Coca-Cola’s Chief Growth Officer will be growing all aspects of the brand, not just product sales, but how consumers engage and interact with its products.
This bigger vision will be data-driven, that is, it will incorporate AI (artificial intelligence), and that gives it a hope of winning over analysts and shareholders who will be expecting proof of ROI.
Consumer engagement and interaction are just a couple of metrics that must be measured to reliably predict revenue growth.
If that can be accomplished, marketing will by default become more consumer-centric.
Consumer-Centric Marketing Builds Community
Your marketing shows what your business cares about. A product focused company cares about sales and a customer focused company cares about the people that generate those sales.
A consumer-centric organization recognizes that customers are seldom product experts, but they are indeed experts in the user-experience of, let’s say, their automobile, favorite pair of jeans, or landscaping.
Businesses that seek to understand customer experiences will be ideally positioned for making product innovations that lead to sales growth.
Contrast that with this statement Coca-Cola’s former CMO made to his advertisers, “If you want people to love to drink Coca-Cola, please show in your commercials people who love drinking Coca-Cola.”
In all fairness, that type of advertising is how many of us were taught to market before digital became the dominant form of marketing.
However, the problem with this product marketing approach is that it doesn’t integrate well with digital because consumers, not the company, are the most credible source of marketing. And as we’ve noted, they care less about the product than the experience of consuming it.
What do customers want from your business, better products or unique solutions to their problems?
Do you see the difference?
Nowadays most products perform exceptionally well in getting the job done, whatever that may be, but that’s not enough to get talked about on social media.
This is why I like Coke’s vision to be bigger than its core brand.
For most companies, the core brand is necessarily product or service-based because that’s how we have traditionally measured success. Whereas, a consumer-centric approach to business seeks to create what most of us would call community, a sense of belonging or connection.
When you buy a product or service you literally join a community of like-minded people.
The challenge for businesses likes yours and mine are discovering ways to make that more tangible by creating opportunities for people to share ideas and insights that just may become bigger than the brand that initially brought them together.
Isn’t this kind of digital innovation what social media does well?
Make that your call to action.
Call to Action
How can you use social media (or any other platform like a live event) to create opportunities for your customers to come together and share ideas that you can then use to create a bigger brand experience for them?