Operating in the CPG category, we're not fortunate to have that much direct contact with our consumers at the point of purchase. The purchase of a yogurt often happens on a daily basis, on a weekly basis, at most. However, in one sense, we have a bit of a luxury in terms of digital transformation, because we aren’t held back by heavy legacy systems. We try to be very nimble to change things quite quickly. Although consumers don’t necessarily buy groceries online consistently across regions, they already expect a lot from us and move at a very fast pace. We need to make sure we organise ourselves to future proof our business, which is still traditional.
For a while, digital marketing was perceived as being quite opaque, which could make the leadership a little bit hesitant about its efficiency. The pendulum has come around; the transparency, accountability, and return on investment of data are much more visible and significant. Our approach is now about democratising data, about making it accessible. Depending on where we work in the world, we obviously don’t have the same type of data requirements. I would be very naive to say I know what Mexico is going to need in a few months, because to do so I would need to live with teams in Mexico to understand what data sets they need to be better at marketing activation. Democratisation requires having a very clear process of how to bring these teams together, though. We need to know who is ultimately responsible for data ownership in each market. We also need to know what we want and make clear choices, because we’re not going to get everything we want everywhere. We don't work in a category where we own all of our first party data. Thus, choosing the right data and making sure we have that process of bringing the right people together is critical. How often do you actually see the sales reps in a media briefing or the ecommerce teams naturally coming up to a media manager otherwise?
We want to be in the basket everywhere: it should never be a moment where a consumer is looking for a product and not having a smooth experience to pick up that product. Thus, we have to create close partnerships with key platforms. We try to get first mover's advantage, because we are sufficiently nimble to do so. Our golden rule is that if we can sell the product, we want to start by selling the product. Then, of course, we identify all the different journeys of the consumer, but we recognise we cannot be everywhere every single time.
To solve the trust issue, we need to start making unconventional connections. We have invited a lot of the platforms, a lot of unexpected auditors, etc., to the table to talk about wild solutions for the industry. Those kinds of unconventional forums help identify good solutions for the consumer and are going to be needed. Ignoring these connections is never really going to work. So that's definitely a key area.
We're hiring very different skill sets at the moment. Ten years ago, I wouldn't have recruited a computer scientist or an engineer to join the marketing team. That’s not the case today and this makes me very happy, as I have a master's in computer science. For 15 years I thought it was the most useless degree I could get because I never used it when I was buying TV and promo! We are currently focusing on two aspects. One is we're actively ensuring our specialists have an ability to grow in the organisation, creating new career paths in traditional marketing organisations. The second is that we make a concerted effort to raise the minimum bar, making sure we have very good internal trainings for everyone in our organisation. We have trained thousands of people, online or in person, about the five elements of data. They're not going to be data scientists, but they do understand the importance as a marketer of using the right data.
The transactional relationship, which I think agencies traditionally helped advertisers a lot with because we didn't necessarily have the scale to do it, will be less required. However, the strategic need of an agency partner and the longevity of that relationship is going to be even more critical, so I think we'll see longer relationships. We obviously rely heavily on agency partners to bring the outside in and to actually help us on our journey.
[i] iProspect 2018 Global Client Survey, October 2018