Brands need to take a more holistic approach to customer-centricity and not just leave it to the marketing department to act as a sole barometer of audience behaviour.
That’s according Lego global CMO Julia Goldin. Speaking today (6 October) at the Festival of Marketing Goldin and fellow panellist, GSK CMO Tamara Rogers, agreed that customer-centricity is expressed not just in product development, but increasingly in marketing at a global and local level. It’s about connecting and communicating in a continuous dialogue with customers.
“For a consumer-facing company like ours, the consumer is the end user,” Goldin explained. “However, there’s also the shopper. And then the customer becomes the big retailers, the third parties. In other organisations the customer becomes the consumer.”
Rogers suggested that such terms are pretty much obsolete in our people-first age but, however we want to define it, being consumer-focused is a vital driver for all successful brands.
“We’re a purpose-driven organisation, very much focused on helping people do more, feel better and live longer, and right now we’re all feeling very blessed to work in an industry where we can really try and make a difference,” she said.
“We talk about it as an obsession, we want to serve people better and if we’re doing that then we know that we’re doing our very best for them. Healthcare has that extra purpose and meaning.”
It’s tricky to quantify such emotional investment, especially when we’re talking about a continuous process. Genuinely cultivating consumer understanding and identifying needs has to be the aim and, as Rogers pointed out, “There’s nothing worse than using the wrong KPI.”
Rather than rely on one standard measurement, she recommended a more flexible approach. Review ratings on ecommerce sites and comments on social can be just as effective as any analytical tool.
At Lego, Goldin’s team is in regular contact with a select group of adult users, asking them about new products, colourways and recent campaigns. As she was keen to point out, it’s not just the marketing function that takes care of audience relationships.
“If you really want to have a consumer-orientated organisation, it can’t be delegated just to marketing,” Goldin argued. “It has to sit across many functions. It’s something that as an agenda needs to be owned in a much bigger way.”
The concept of agile, truly embraced, requires you to think about how you structure your organisation, because it means 100% dedication.
Tamara Rogers, GSK
At Lego, everyone in the company readily discusses audience behaviour and needs, while at GSK Rogers has implemented audience-based planning, enabling the company and its products to stay relevant. There may at times be a tension between global and local comms, but the two are feeding into each other, increasingly dictated by consumer engagement.
This level of agility is important at Lego too. When the company recently launched its Lego Super Mario game, the marketing department had to flex its way around lockdown and adapt to a drastically shifted retail landscape. Earlier in the summer, Lego launched its ‘Let’s Build Together’ campaign within just a couple of weeks, getting the message out to support consumers at a tricky time.
“That responsiveness is something that we’re really pushing, particularly as part of the marketing agenda,” Goldin added.
Rogers agreed that we can expect to see many more examples of rapid campaigning post-pandemic, but stresses the effort required to make it work.
“The concept of agile, truly embraced, requires you to think about how you structure your organisation, because it means 100% dedication of people to a particular project or objective,” she said. Key to that is greater and more effective comms, both externally and internally.
As Rogers admitted, it can be tricky marketing healthcare products because the sector is so highly regulated, but the opportunities are there and that’s what excites her most moving forward. “It’s about bringing your brand to life, not just in the physical experience, but how you show up online or with social, or comms, in a way that matches your brand’s purpose.”
Lego has an awful lot going on at the moment, with the Super Mario launch swiftly followed by high-profile collaborations with Adidas, Ikea and, soon, Levis. No wonder Goldin describes the future as “amazing”.
Her optimism is rooted in the company’s ongoing embrace of technology, both for product development and marketing tools. “There are so many possibilities that digital platforms and analytics provide for us to really understand and cater to our audiences,” Goldin added. “Brands that are focused on their audience always win.”