Marketers are trapped in operational mindset: Nestle's David Morgan

Nestle executive director of marketing David Morgan shares his views on mobile connectivity, generational change and technology advances with ADMA Global Forum audience

Marketers are trapped in operational and process management and not innovating fast enough to meet the needs of modern consumers, Nestle’s Australian CMO claims.

Speaking at the Association for Data-driven Marketing and Advertising (ADMA) Global Forum in Sydney on 9 August, Nestle executive director of marketing and corporate communications, David Morgan, lamented the lack of strategic focus from marketers today, claiming too many spend their time managing agencies, or are stuck in the operational mire between product and consumer need.

Morgan pointed out marketers today are often managing eight or 10 agencies for specific channels and skills.

“We’re doing so many things that aren’t core to our trade, marketing, it’s taken away our ability to engage in our trade,” he claimed. “The marketing world has been progressive over the last 20 to 30 years but things have transformed in the last five years and we have not kept up.”

Part of the problem is that marketers continue to use outdated frameworks and tools to meet the changing consumer need, Morgan said. “The brand management model invested by Proctor and Gamble is 60 years old. The nature of our relationship with agencies is 50, 60 years old… We need to start putting together a different federation to help us move forward, to give us better success to consumers.”

Marketers are also not doing enough to pioneer new ways of marketing through data utilisation, nor are they embracing new technologies sufficiently for purposeful consumer interaction, Morgan said.

As a way of illustrating the point, he claimed many technologies being utilised by consumers today are not yet being used with purpose by marketers. Touchscreen computing, iPads, Suri voice recognition, mobile phones, flatscreen TVs and Google Glasses, were all ‘invented’ by the founder of the 1960s TV series Star Trek , Gene Roddenberry, 50 years ago, yet are only registering with marketers now.

“It troubles me that an industry that should be leading edge is only understanding and leveraging these 50 years after the concepts were first aired,” Morgan said. “We sit too much in the past; we ask ourselves ‘what can we do better this year than last year?’, rather than ‘what’s going to happen to us next year?'”

As a way forward, Morgan outlined three current game-changers that the marketing world should be on top of, yet haven’t mastered: Mobile connectivity, technology and generational change.

While marketers are aware of mobile’s importance, they haven’t yet grasped its full possibilities, he claimed. “We are good at observing what is happening in mobile, and recording this, but what’s the purpose of it? What are we doing with this fabulous data?” he asked.

“We spend too much time listening and understanding but not repurposing and doing stuff with it. We need to take responsibility for using that data.”

Morgan also highlighted 3D printing as a revolutionary technology force already transforming the economics around manufacturing, supply chain management, retailing, and brand values. As an example, he spoke of Mattel selling Barbie dolls no longer as physical objects, but as code.

Another area for marketers to get on top of is generational change. Morgan used the example of Raul the rocket man, the 17-year old who sent his own rocket into space, to illustrate the very different and strong set of non-commercial values inherent in younger generations.

“The younger generation don’t want to be part of our commercial brands – and these individuals are the consumers of the future,” he said. Instead, marketers will need to embrace a different value system, approach, and personalise interaction. In addition, the historical ‘launch and leave’ approach to campaigns or websites needs to be superseded by managing and nurturing, he said.

“We have to change the frame and think about these people in a different way.”

One way forward is to think about the skills and specialisations needed for a new way of marketing, Morgan said. “Marketers have been great generalists… but with these new challenges, we need people with great fundamental skills,” he added.

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