16 January 2010

BIG Consumer Brands should invest more in Interactive Marketing. Why & How?

My simplistic take without the crutches of facts, figures & charts. But when the answer is obvious, one need not be complex.

The big consumer brands have it all. They have the brand name, insights, reach, distribution, equity, pricing models, and a huge base of existing customers etc…. And they know how to leverage channels of communication to reach & influence consumers.

But consumers across segments are, and will continue to adopt digital communication channels. This will be in addition to OR in partial replacement of the channels of communication that built these brands in the first place. The big consumer brands need to tackle this challenge head- on.

To follow and engage consumers 360, brands need in-house understanding &, preferably, hands-on experience in implementing marketing solutions across digital channels and Geos. This is imperative to develop insightful agency briefs, jointly build experimental hypotheses and evaluate solutions objectively. And also build relevant measurement & analytics around these marketing solutions - to track & learn from results.

Big Consumer brand companies, the likes of Coca Cola, Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson Nokia, McDonalds, Pepsi, Nike, Adidas, Colgate etc… to name a few, have the most to lose and deep pockets. Now is the opportunity to shift gears in building in-house expertise, running experiments to scale and building a base of in-house local knowledge from these focused investments.

1. Building in-house expertise (People & Automation):
Assigning these responsibilities to a Brand Manager is not the solution. This is a specialist role and may not be optimally supported by a brand manager, who has other general business responsibilities. Ideally it should be a cross brand specialist digital marketing team. It’s also imperative individuals in this team are experienced in Integrated Marketing Communications, combined with deep understanding & experience across digital channels.
Start with existing, use SAAS models, agency platforms and build internally when there is a business case for sustained use of the proposed automation.

2. Running Marketing Experiments:
Articulating the communication problem for a digital brief is just one of the tasks that should be assigned to this team. In addition to planning measurement & analytics, they should work with existing insights & agency planners to develop a series of hypotheses that can be priortised for testing & scaling.

3. In-House Knowledge Base
Results from the experiments should be crystallized and shared. The team should also take on the responsibility of inculcating the practice & accelerating digital savvy across marketing first, and the broader company soon.

This, in my opinion, is one of the key challenges for big consumer brands today. Getting it wrong soon will help them stay on this or the equivalent list in the coming years

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