Computers and artificial intelligence have come along at an exponential rate over the past few decades, from being regarded as oversized adding machines to the point where they have played integral roles in some legitimately creative endeavours.
Today’s marketers are experiencing high levels of “infobesity” that can cause a disconnect between their brand and customers.
According to Millward Brown Vermeer CMO Marc de Swaan Arons, a rising challenge for businesses when it comes to being agile in the consumer insight-led environment is to effectively analyse the increasing volumes of data.
“I would describe today’s marketing environment as having a high level of infobesity,” he told CMO. “There’s too much information and there is a risk for marketers to be disconnected. So the challenge is to find out how to connect that and how to build true insights out of all those disconnected sources.”
While most organisations now have many transactions, marketing and research databases to tap into, it’s about integrating true insights of what drives people and what they need that fosters engagement, de Swaan Aarons said.
“At the same time, it is also about organising the data insights within the company and embedding them to a level where people invent stuff, create value and enhance customer interactions,” he said.
Millward Brown Vermeer is a global consultancy firm. To date, it has worked with a number of brands including Barneys, Red Bull and Dulux to leverage deep customer insights to improve the customer and brand experience.
One recent example de Swaan Arons highlighted was the firm’s collaboration with US financial services group, Verizon, which has 80,000 employees and a significant national reach.
“We worked on significant initiatives to bring everything the company knows together into what they call one source of truth,” he explained. “Because when you have infobesity, different people almost feel as though they have license to interpret the data in their own way and to serve their own purpose. The rigour of actually bringing all data forces together and then forcing a collaborative insights process and one cohesive view is making a big difference.”
On Australian shores, a small company doing this very well and making all the right efforts is vitamin company, Blackmores, Millward Brown Vermeer managing partner, Caspar Wright, claimed.
“It’s an absolutely great organisation with a super new CMO, who said it was looking into greater personalisation, but now technology is making it more possible,” he said. “In the past few years, off-the-shelf technology is making it possible for companies, big and small, to achieve this, without going through a $3 million IT development program with a consultancy.
“They can plug into personalisation and individualisation functionality to their digital offering, and really bring them to life.”
On a wider scale, the results of data-led personalisation speak for themselves. A recent study released by Millward Brown Vermeer, Insights2020, conducted in partnership with The Advertising Research Foundation (ARF), ESOMAR, LinkedIN, Kantar and Korn Ferry revealed, 74 per cent of companies that over-perform on revenue growth create better customer experiences based on data-driven insights.
Based on 325 in-depth interviews with senior marketing and insights leaders alongside more than 100,000 industry-led interviews, the study showed 83 per cent of revenue growth over-performed link everything the company does to its brand purpose. Meanwhile, 62 per cent of over-performers leverage insights and analytics to drive consistency across all customer-touch points.
“The report showed companies that are able to drive customer-centricity across all disciplines out-perform their competitors,” de Swaan Arons said. “Importantly, companies that made customer-centricity a senior leadership responsibility also out-performed their competitors, as well as companies that create KPIs that are linked directly to customer-centric performance.”
But while the concept of shifting to being customer-centric is all the rage, de Swaan Arons stressed that doesn’t mean it’s being done well.
“While the journey is one everybody recognises as important, the effectiveness and progress is quite dramatically varying in degree,” he commented.
De Swaan Arons pointed out the number of customer touchpoints is now exploding and whether marketers like it or not, people are talking about their brands and in some instances, wanting to interact with them.
“It’s important to understand what trajectories customers are going through, what are the key influencing moments and when are the moments where they discuss things,” he said. “Social now is almost like a modern version of two neighbours speaking across the hedge, so it’s about marketers understanding for their category specifically, where the conversations are taking place and whether there is a relevant role they have to play in those conversations.”
The challenge is for brands to move away from simply a product offer to a complete experience.
“This includes products, or either personalised information that makes that product more relevant for you based on where you live, your climate, the people you interact with, or information that is more relevant to location touch points like where you’re travelling or whether you’re at home,” de Swann Arons said.
“Marketers need to understand what that decision-making journey is and what the role of their brand is.”
One example of a global brand doing this right, he said, is Nike, which is now doing more than just sell running shoes and shorts.
“Nike is going way beyond that in its digital offer, where the company makes no money, but builds enormous learning, and significantly, also loyalty,” he said. “They’re offering people very personalised advice around how to build a running schedule, how to prepare for a marathon, or where to run where they’re travelling.
“All these things come from analysing those key touchpoints and asking whether you can deliver with a clear purpose and you can we get more involved.”