CES is regarded as one of the premiere events for brands, marketers, and consumers across the globe. 2023 was no different, showcasing brands in every category. One specially crafted piece of programming was the Brand Innovators Marketing Leadership Summit. Taking place over three days, there were 20+ hours of programming, including networking dinners, panel discussions, and fireside chats with some of the world’s best and brightest in the industry. We heard from the CMOs of brands like Delta Airlines, the Chief Digital
Consumer data & privacy
As the landscape changes, brands need to pivot. The full implications and regulations may be a bit farther down the road, but brands are thinking about it now. Contrary to popular belief, most brands seemed in support of more consumer privacy, stating we need to find a different way to gather data and use privacy. Including, perhaps, a way to mitigate targeted ads for a product already purchased or receive data that provides anonymous intel while protecting consumer information to better formulate experiences without heavy intrusion.
Growth vs performance
Long gone are the thoughts of “growth versus performance marketing” when it comes to budgetary allocation instead thinking of short vs long-term gain, pointed out Marci Rable, VP of integrated marketing at Campbell’s. All in all, about 50% or more of the brand leaders mentioned they look at these as the same thing. Growth of brand awareness leads to better performance in the market and better performance may lead to a greater desire to push for development in the overall space. It resonated with many that we should look at marketing budgets as holistic and approach each goal or KPI with a tighter lens rather than focusing on having various teams work independently.
Authenticity & growth
While the picturesque C-suite employee is long gone, authenticity and its positive impact have been seen by many. Esi Eggleston Bracey, president of Unilever USA, CEO of North America Personal Care, spoke of the initial fear she had to lean into her own story at times. However, she has since fully embraced herself, her culture, and her ambitions, and that has led to nothing but success for her brands and team as a whole. We must remember, “Nobody can do what you can just how you can do it.” Forgive the wordy nature, but it’s true: we all possess a unique set of abilities and experiences that can provide unparalleled value to our teams.
Consumer First, Brand Second
“The customer is always right” is an adage that has been around since the 1900s and still proves correct today. The most successful growth and brand affinity have come from listening to the consumer. Ekta Chopra, chief digital officer of E.L.F. Beauty, spoke of E.L.F.’s 3.5 million loyalty program members ,as well as their E.L.F. Icons. Both groups have provided actionable feedback that has helped the brand focus on the proper product SKUs and grow revenue at an impressive rate. So, listen to your consumer, think of how the brand can authentically provide what they need, and watch the net profit growth.
Spending is shifting, not stopping
We’re still in a time where spending has changed for many people across the country and the world. The inflation we’ve seen has made things very difficult for people to live their lives in the same fashion. However, with all the data our marketing leaders have access to, a resounding conclusion is that spending is not stopping, just shifting. While people are counting more dollars, they are also seeking experiences, authentic community connections, and quality brands that can become a part of their everyday lives. So, perhaps scaling back is not the strategy to take but rather doubling down on your core values and product suite so that your consumers know you really care about them and thus can feel good spending their hard-earned money with you.
There were a few inspiring stories that stuck with me during the week. I briefly wanted to touch on one from Raja Rajamannar, chief marketing and communication officer at Mastercard. He shared a story about how, while growing up with his blind grandmother, he helped her around the house and with some day-to-day tasks. Later, when someone asked if they had a solution for sight-impaired Mastercard customers, he was surprised when he realized the answer was “no”. So, they formed a task force and created cards with a notch for people to identify debit/credit/prepaid cards easier. Some parents sent feedback about how this helps them teach their kids financial literacy. This amazing innovation wouldn’t have come if Raj wasn’t passionate about it and authentic to his own story. How can we use our unique background to better innovate within our brands and companies similarly?
Throughout the week there were so many truly priceless conversations, networking moments, and opportunities during the Brand Innovators Marketing Summit. Among the hustle and bustle of the conference and hours of conversation, we can see that people are excited about more IRL experiences. As we all continue to navigate our ever-dynamic industry, hopefully, these opportunities will inspire us to grow, allow us to think more deeply about the impact of our work, and find new ways to enjoy the process along the way. I am grateful to BENlabs for sending me to such an inspiring event and looking forward to working with and learning from all those mentioned.
Quick Takeaways –
- Put people first, whether consumer or business teams.
- Data will continually shift and brands must keep up the pace.
- Don’t be afraid to lean into yourself or authentic things here.
- Spending has changed and will shift but people are still spending.
- Listen to your consumers they’ll tell you what you need (loyalty programs etc).
- “Keep your vision clear, and allow your path to it to be dynamic.” – Marci Rable