by: Shari Walczak
I had the pleasure of attending the Marketing Evolution: C-Suite Summit 2019 today and with many past experiences of less-than-stellar conferences with mediocre content and speakers, I’m happy to report that this one was really worth the time investment (thank you strategy Magazine).
Given that many marketing leaders find themselves too busy to carve out a full day from their schedule, I thought it might be helpful to provide my take on some of the best nuggets and themes from the day.
Anne Donohoe, CMO from MEC, had a real impact on the room when she got vulnerable and honest about the past failings of the outdoor industry and her own organization, MEC, on the topic of diversity and representing the voices and needs of a more diverse customer audience. It was clear in her talk that diversity cannot be treated as a window dressing exercise. In fact, authentically including people with different perspectives and lived experiences in your product development, brand experiences, and communications can truly become a competitive advantage. Especially when you discover that people from “under-represented” groups are actually over-indexing on participation in your category - which is what research actually told MEC, despite the fact that outdoor publications, films and other media were almost exclusively promoting caucasians in the role of “active hero”. Learn more about what MEC is doing.
I stole that phrase directly from the presentation of Matt Kohler, VP Marketing for The Clorox Company. It was pretty refreshing to have a marketer come on stage and immediately poke fun at himself: “bet you weren’t expecting the bleach guy to come up here talking about sustainability initiatives!”. Not only was I impressed that The Clorox Company had put sustainability and betterment of the planet at the centre of the company, but they are actively building brands with true purpose at the heart, innovating, challenging themselves to do better, setting quantifiable success metrics, and tracking themselves against those KPIs. In other words, walking the walk. And while they may not be perfect (as Matt, himself, admitted), they are identifying all of the places they can have a positive impact and are transparently working to do something about it!
I have to say, I also now know a hell of a lot more about bleach than I went in knowing and I no longer see it as the ‘evil’ I thought that it was. If you are so inclined to have your perspective challenged...here you go.
Anthony Rossi of Loop introduced the audience to what a global reusable packaging collaboration at scale looks like. The “take - make - waste” philosophy of consumption has taken over our daily lives because it gives us unparalleled convenience at an affordable price. It is also why single-use packaging and product waste has become one of the most pervasive and rapidly growing issues facing our planet today. Loop offers a solution built on the idea of a circular economy where, instead of a product being thrown away after it's used up (typically once), it is replaced with more durable, well-designed packaging that is disposed of in a Loop reuse bin (rather than a recycling bin) where everything can be cleaned and goes around again and again.
Well-known brands like Haagen-Dazs, Clorox, Tide, Tropicana, Gillette, Pantene and The Body Shop have already partnered up with Loop to explore more sustainable solutions. Loblaw is the first retailer in Canada who will be piloting a reusable packaging program with Loop in Toronto in early 2020
Stylus, a trend and intelligence firm, shared a number of perspectives and potential scenarios about the 2035 Consumer. At the forefront of these themes was that our population will be older than ever before in history:
All of this means that marketers can find opportunity in innovation and marketing strategies that address the new health and living needs dictated by this aging (and spending) global audience of people. Examples and signals of this today are the development of:
Neetu Godara, Co-Founder and Chief Growth Officer for SoCIAL LITE Vodka Soda, the RTD alchohol beverage that has taken the Canadian market by storm, shared her own common sense marketing lessons. She talked about the profit potential in solving a real customer problem (no one wants to be that person who takes a bottle of vodka or wine to their campsite or onto the beach). She described the opportunity in targeting a consumer mindset rather than a generic "powerpoint target definition". Finally, she stressed that no amount of quantitative research or Facebook A/B tests can sell your product if you can’t “put on the t-shirt”, stand in front of a group of real people, personally pitch your product, and get them interested.
In a final CMO interview to close out the day, Jackie Poriadjian-Asch, CMO of ecobee, shared her one piece of advice for future CMOs: “Be a fighter. This is not an easy gig. People are always trying to get you on your back foot. Stay strong and stand your ground for what you believe in.”