How Philips is rewriting its post-split digital marketing strategy

Philips plans to put digital at the core of its newly merged consumer and professional healthcare business, following last month's announcement of a major restructure.

Blake Cahill: Philips' global head of digital marketing
Blake Cahill: Philips' global head of digital marketing

Last month the company said it would spin off its lighting business and merge its consumer and professional healthcare businesses.

The latter will enable Philips to build out a health technology business, involving everything from connected toothbrushes to hospital scanners.

Philips' global head of digital marketing, Blake Cahill, told Marketing that Philips had undergone a major digital transformation in the last year, set to continue after the restructure.

We need marketers who understand the data and insight in all of this to be able to differentiate, because the world will get more crowded and louder.

Cahill said: "We’ve taken digital, broken it down and looked at how it can impact our business, change our business models, help us build connected products and impact our service revenues.

"We call it digital domains – using digital to shape how we operate as a business."

Cahill has been on a mission over the past year to rebuild the company’s approach to marketing from the ground up. That’s involved building up "centres" of digital experts that can support different business groups in their marketing activity, from social listening to SEO.

Cahill said: "These are small lean teams that are domain experts, they own the tooling processes, the vendor relationships and work with business groups in different markets."

That's meant that expertise traditionally farmed out to agencies has now been brought in house, according to Cahill.  "Agencies have a huge role in creating content in campaigns, but social listening, search and interacting with customers – that needs to be in-house," he said.

Internet of things

Philips is also exploring using data from its growing number of connected products to inform its marketing. That doesn’t mean the company is tracking consumers’ every move through their smart lightbulbs, but could involve building an ecosystem around connected products.  

Cahill said: "We call it communities of interest – so making propositions towards the people that are interested in products in a different way and not  just as boxes on a shelf.

"People are interested in the product but also interested in [the accompanying] ecosystem."

Cahill referenced Avent, Philips’ baby brand, noting that customers are interested in a wider ecosystem around parents, rather than a new baby bottle.

He said: "Philips recognises that the world of connected products opens up significant number of doors from a services perspective.

"We need marketers who understand the data and insight in all of this to be able to differentiate, because the world will get more crowded and louder."