When I got made redundant back in 2020, it coincided with several appliances in the house giving up the ghost too. Their replacements are all digital and smart of course, yet more load on the home Wi-Fi, which at the time was weighed down with a family doing home learning.
I shudder when I remember those days. But, an unexpected upside of my new dishwasher is that it counts how many tablets we use and orders more from Amazon before we run out, should I choose to go internet of things. How clever, or at least it would be if the counter worked. Or maybe if the manufacturers included the same amount of tablets they claim to on the packaging. For several months now I’ve noticed a significant discrepancy. This month I’m 23 tablets down. Is this a detergent conspiracy?
Boots has also been playing on my mind. I never thought I’d miss it just being a high street chemist. I’m less surprised with all the changes on the high street in general, but I’m so glad shops are now open. In lockdown and through home working I missed picking up my morning coffee and croissant from Harrison’s in Spring Street before cycling across Hyde Park to the office.
I like the simplicity of independent stores. No tricksy data capture, or elaborate loyalty programmes, no phoney third-party data monetisation schemes. Just great products, at the right price, brilliantly served. Boots could learn a thing or two about that. Maybe re-find its mojo and focus on getting rid of the customer experience disaster that is queues out of the shop to pick up your prescription, instead of launching a media brand to cross sell more to customers. After waiting an eternity to pick up an inhaler, I have sworn I’ll switch to the local pharmacy. Most uncomplicated. But I like Boots. Is this what loyalty feels like?
Loo rolls have got wonderfully smaller too, and I’m amazed by chocolate bars today… it all feels like a case of marketers worshipping at the alter of expedience and efficiency over long-term effectiveness and distinctive experiences.
I’m pretty sure a Mars today is half the size from when I was a kid and at least four times more expensive. Maybe this is where inflation meets business school marketing with lashings of aggressive cost-based pricing.
It’s a bit like chasing ROI through performance channels alone, inevitably leading to a skew and very probably diminished brand effects. In this case, the results are amusingly bite-sized products which can only be sold in four-packs to make up for the meagre mouthful they are individually. You may call it yielding. But it is rather a strange brand experience. Quite literally less is costing more.
The bigger issue is perhaps how marketers can re-find their voice and put some common sense customer centricity back into their business. After 18 months of excruciatingly hard trading conditions and days of soul-sapping Zoom meetings, now is the time to put our collective feet on the ball, and reassert our influence, and customer focus.
5 New Year resolutions for the careworn marketer:
Firstly, let’s make the case over and again that cutting to grow only works on roses, not on building brands.
Secondly, let’s focus on delivering products and services people value, not what is operationally easy to do.
Thirdly, let’s stick to what makes our brand special – our core – and do that brilliantly. Everything else will sort itself out if we get that right.
Fourthly, let’s reaffirm that we always stand for excellence in execution and creating impact. Leaving expedience to the expedient. If we have to, be happy to be late but brilliant, as opposed to on time and forgettable.
Fifthly, let’s build teams around us that we can trust to do things better. Encourage them to take risks and strive to explore ways to win big. Empower them. Give them a safe space to try.
Now I find myself eyeing packets of dishwasher tablets with great scepticism, why 81 tablets in this packet and 36 in that? Who knows if any of these numbers are true anyway? Should I speak to Trading Standards? There is only one thing for it. I will take the next pack I buy with me to Boots and count the little buggers out while I wait in the interminable queue for my prescription.
Our anonymous marketer has spent years working for big brands in large organisations. They have seen what you have seen, been left scratching their head at the decisions (or indecision) of others, had the same fights. They have also seen the possibility and opportunity of marketing. In this regular series, our marketer on the inside will unpick the failings, articulate the frustrations and speak up for marketers everywhere.