Can dinosaur brands survive digital revolution?

Brands that don't embrace mobile 'will be totally irrelevant,' says Todd Sampson and a panel of digital experts in Sydney

Todd Sampson talks dinosaurs at the PayPal Secure Insights breakfast in Sydney. Credit: Adam Bender
Todd Sampson talks dinosaurs at the PayPal Secure Insights breakfast in Sydney. Credit: Adam Bender

Big brands that don’t embrace mobile now face extinction, according to digital marketing specialists speaking at the PayPal Secure Insights event in Sydney.

“Sixty-six million years ago, a meteorite hit the Earth and it killed nearly all of the dinosaurs,” said Todd Sampson, well-known CEO of Leo Burnett Australia and the host of ABC programme Redesign Your Brain during a panel session at the event on 31 October.

“Technically, the dinosaurs were dead when the meteorite had hit, but they didn’t know and they lived on for a period of time before they eventually died. You could argue that digital meteorite has already hit the majority of businesses in our country and around the world, and most of them are actually dead - they just don't know it yet."

The new generation is obsessed with mobile, Sampson continued. “If you as a business are not in that space, you will be totally irrelevant. You will not even be remotely considered for anything.”

Mobile payments are exploding, according to a PayPal report released at the event, growing by more than 5000 per cent in the last three years from $35 million to $2 billion.

Woolworths Liquor head of digital development, Faye Ilhan, said mobile must be deeply integrated into a business’s overall strategy for reaching customers.

“We as retailers need to stop thinking of channels in silos, and try to look at the ways the customers are using those respective channels,” she said.

For example, realising that customers in its liquor stores often want to learn more about a particular wine, Woolworths has put in its mobile app a way for customers to take a picture of the bottle and instantly receive more information, she said.

Businesses must also listen to customers when forming a mobile strategy, said Telstra Digital executive director, Gerd Schenkel.

“Customers decide—no one is forced to use your app,” he said. “We’re trying to build things that people will want to use.”

Consumers are also increasingly forming opinions of companies based on what they are doing with digital media, Sampson said. He equated digital presence with business transparency.

“If you do not have a digital footprint as a business or individual, I instantly don’t trust you. I instantly think you’re hiding something,” he said.

Telstra has recognised this phenomenon and now uses digital to become much more transparent about its business, Schenkel said. “The more we share, the more we get back.”

Woolworths Liquor pays close attention to social media for complaints about its store and apologises to any customer who posts about a bad experience, said Ilhan: “To turn that negative customer experience into a positive one is the best advocacy and loyalty that you can get.”

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