Insight | Purpose
Lack of legacy
The corollary to an ongoing decline in trust in traditional brands is an openness to trying new things. Where legacy and history used to be a benefit for big brands, today it can be baggage – baggage that new brands don’t carry. Consumers who try new brands not only get to avoid companies they might have a problem with, they get in on the ground floor of a new, more authentic feeling story built by visionary disrupters that are often directly conversing with consumers about what they care about. Faced with a world in which the barriers they built are crumbling, companies that are trying to buy and integrate small brands are missing the point and destroying value. For big companies to find growth again, they’ve got to address their own baggage, start having authentic conversations with their consumers, and prove to people that there are things they care about more than just their company’s performance.
Chief Creative Officer
Insight | Values
Algorithms learn to make choices based on values
Among people who are privileged enough to be able to make choices based on more than just value, we’re seeing a growth of “B-to-Me,” values based purchasing; where the use of data is influencing your choices based on your value system. For example, your choice of energy company can be used as one indicator of your values, if you choose a renewable energy company then you might score highly on a social conscious metric.
In its blending of voice and screen, Amazon Alexa enables this kind of value choice. The screen offers a product selection determined by earlier choices. The system will look across all your purchases and make inferences. So, if you have chosen a renewable energy company and want to buy a household cleanser, the selection offered might prioritize organic. Our personal values will influence choices we have, and algorithms will align our values with that of brands on offer.
Insight | Purpose 2.0
There is a new purpose on the block: Purpose 2.0. A purpose delivering real impact and shared value, not just shareholder value. It is being effectively embraced by companies who have inherent risk in their business model and whose impact is liable to be reported in a one-sided way and by businesses who want to win the fight for the best talent.
These brands are traditionally in the B2B sector and they are embracing Purpose 2.0 at C-suite level. We are seeing Purpose 2.0 at its most impactful used to drive both the business and communications strategy. Its success is judged in a more nuanced way than purely short-term financial performance; its measures become reputation, trust, legacy, talent along with long-term value and a larger contribution to society.
Chief Strategy Officer
Insight | Voice
in digital world
Culture is increasingly driven by technology. The way we communicate, shop, and relax is increasingly digital in nature and changing all the time. We believe the brands that will gain the most in the coming years will play a direct role in those technology shifts. They won’t be finding stories so much as finding points of connection. The truth they have to tell will need to be matched by the values they live by and the utility they offer to their customers.
Insight | Brand Love
in brand love
In a few years, when I say 'Alexa, I need some toothpaste', one of two things will happen. 1. Alexa will order the default, either set by me or Amazon (and likely to be an Amazon own brand); or 2. Alexa will recommend a particular brand based on a paid voice-search term. In either case, ensuring the brand is front of mind when this transaction takes place is of tremendous importance. Today, more and more brands focus on the sharper end of the purchase funnel. Over-investment in performance will mean that big brand work will suffer and, fundamentally, damage the bottom line in the long term. In short: home assistant or not, building brand love has never been more important.
Head of Retail and Consumer Insights
Insight | Amazon
is not cause
for panic... yet
We should be alert to, but healthily skeptical about, some of the hyperbole around disruption and what this means for FMCG brands. The idea that technology and voice in particular will result in a complete move to white label FMCG packaging should be challenged. I would argue that the role of the brand will become even more critical, in helping to break through the algorithms and automation. It’s never wise to discount Amazon, but their current share of groceries is tiny; less than 1% of sales in the UK. Yes, change is coming, but it may not be quite as disruptive as people think. There is a tension between the rapidly evolving digital world and the inherently physical nature of grocery products.
Chief Strategy Officer, Health Practice
Insight | Purpose
believe it’s real
We’ve always needed to differentiate among equivalent products. We’ve always needed to establish an emotional connection beyond function. Fifty years ago, it was about buying a red, blue, or green blender. Now, it’s harder and the stakes are higher. But people still make decisions emotionally and justify them rationally. Purpose is a higher-order expression that can enable an emotional connection. If it’s real everyone knows it. If it’s fake everyone knows it. When I advise clients, I tell them to be sure that their promise is real and useful and all the things it needs to be. In the end, when a brand doesn’t live up to its promise, it’s dead in the water, whether the shortcoming has to do with purpose or functional delivery.
Insight | Purpose
that are clear
Brands will never disappear completely. They play as big a social role as they do a commercial one, sending cues to others about the identity, beliefs, and personality of an individual or company. That said, in an era marked by increasing disintermediation, marketers will need to reconsider how they connect with customers. One way to outsmart algorithms would be for brands to own spaces collectively, banding together with others in different categories that share similar values. But the most foolproof way to survive disruption is the most traditional: build a brand that means something. If you concentrate on how you can help your target audiences fulfill their purpose, you will define your own. Staying customer focused allows for flexibility and resilience in rapidly evolving markets.
Global Head of BrandZ
Kantar Millward Brown
Insight | Experience
for future success
Branding is moving to experience, with reviews, recommendations, and live streams playing an important role. Voice is becoming a brand. Every brand needs its own voice. Brands need to try an artificial intelligence strategy, like facial identification. Augmented reality is being used in customer services as well as manufacturing. Perceived innovation will be critical in the future. And innovation is not just about product development, but also about customer service and communications.
Consulting Partner, Innovation & Digital Transformation
Insight | Amazon
A focus on service
We’re seeing a paradigm shift, especially in FMCG, because of the Amazon Effect. Amazon is building massive factories in China to make white label versions of commodity products. What does that development mean for major packaged goods companies, when suddenly Amazon Basics carries their entire product line? In this world, where a product may not be front and center in the consumer’s mind, the brand’s purpose may become much more important when the product is invisible, especially with voice interfaces where you don’t even see the product on a search results page. When your brand is not visible, because the interface doesn’t allow it to be, what differentiates your product from every other product? Creating brand awareness and affinity in these circumstances requires focusing less on product attributes and more on the brand as a service.