Last month saw our second virtual Oystercatchers Club event of the year take place and we welcomed to the panel Mark Read, CEO of WPP; Ori Ben Shai, VP & Managing Director, UK & Ireland for Kimberly-Clark; and Nishma Robb, Director of Brand and Reputation Marketing for Google UK.
The session took place under Chatham House Rules to stimulate freer, more open conversation, so although there are no attributable comments, we wanted to share the key takeaways from the evening's insights.
Lockdown shone a light on brands willing to go the extra mile to solve problems both for individuals and for society. At the same time, marketing and agency teams found themselves capable of far more than they would previously have thought possible, and along the way forged stronger personal and professional partnerships with one single, shared goal.
The drumbeat of positivity was loud and clear at our our event, hosted by Suki Thompson and held as part of XEIM’s recent Festival of Marketing. Uncertainty may be with us for the months ahead but most marketers are looking beyond this. It seems we are set for a “Roaring Twenties” as pent-up demand is unleashed – making for a highly competitive market with brands eager for consumer attention.
The evening was based around the theme The Bottom Line: How Marketing Measures Up. While bottom line focuses on revenue and profit, it’s increasingly apparent that brands now need to do more to create value for their customers, satisfy stakeholders beyond just shareholders and assume a far more responsible role in the world to lay foundations for long-term growth post-Covid.
A greater rise of ecommerce
Panellists agreed that marketing investment during lockdown remained far more resilient than might have been expected, with ecommerce becoming a massive growth driver. To help clients power up growth, agencies were pressed to understand how to develop better customer experiences and marketing around ecommerce, and across channels.
The power of local
A powerful counter-trend to ecommerce is an accelerating consumer loyalty for local businesses. The Pandemic has renewed societal interest in our dependence on local suppliers and concern for their survival. And, that’s likely to remain when normality returns. Brands supporting local businesses and communities with advice and investment will be building up their equity among both groups.
Magic vs logic
Purpose vs profit, continues to drive the conversation as brands and agencies navigate between the two. Both, agreed our panel, are inter-linked with products being developed for market that address issues like sustainability while maintaining margins. Kimberly-Clarks’ “The Tiniest Footprint” initiative is a great example of setting a goal for a brand – in this case reducing the plastic in baby wipes – that chimes with many consumer values. There’s truth too in the old adage that in times of crisis people gravitate to brands they trust.
D&I at the heart of recruitment
Another positive impact initiative is to unequivocally place diversity and inclusion at the very heart of recruitment. A big pay off in creating stronger teams better able to understand a brand’s mixed audiences, and/or how to take it into new markets.
Diverse teams also help lift the “creative fog” that has descended on marketing in recent years. The use of technology to help simplify and optimise processes has led to diminished appreciation of the value of creativity in problem-solving and driving engagement. Now, it’s time to “reevaluate how we use technology” and bring data and instinct together to produce stunningly impactful work. Creativity, it was argued, is still the way to create lasting value in a company, as everything, everywhere can be copied almost overnight.
Ultimately, brands need an obsessive focus on their target customer needs and how to solve them to succeed – as one panelist said, “there is nothing more important than that in the boardroom”.
Adopting these strategies will build the trust and loyalty that will keep the bottom line buoyant in turbulent times.