Accenture: Brands need 'living marketing' to survive the digital icebergs ahead
A view from John Zealley

Accenture: Brands need 'living marketing' to survive the digital icebergs ahead

To cope with the constant onslaught of industry disruptors armed with the latest tech, brands need to be far more agile writes Accenture's industry lead for consumer goods and services

Keeping up with today’s consumers can be all-consuming. They’ve taken control – and they just keep accelerating the pace of change. They expect their needs to be anticipated, their issues resolved, and their shopping experiences personalised – all at hyper-speed. 

What’s more, a host of digitally-born disruptors (pictured above), are here to give them what they want. These smaller players aren’t playing by the conventional rules – and they’re outperforming their traditional counterparts in generating growth. For incumbents, that makes for a series of looming consumer and competitive icebergs in an ever-shifting – and highly volatile– business landscape.

So what’s the secret to navigating these waters safely?

It’s about becoming even more relevant by responding to consumers in real time. It’s about creating hyper-personalised experiences at the moments that matter to the consumer, on their conditions. And it’s about applying the unprecedented power of today’s explosion of digital technologies and data, both big data and small data.

We call it  "living marketing".

Intelligent experiences

We know that those who get consumer experience right are the outperformers in today’s economy. So, CMOs should use their creative ingenuity to ride the waves of technology disruption and engage directly with consumers in new and meaningful ways. They should adopt a mindset that can respond to consumers’ desires for deep and authentic connections. That’s about much more than convenience – it’s about listening to and appreciating customers at every touchpoint.

Voice commerce, for example, is fast taking the commercial battleground right into the heart of consumers’ homes. For consumer goods companies, it opens up new and exciting opportunities to interact with potential shoppers directly – and hear what they’re saying and expecting. 

Whirlpool is putting voice command capabilities directly into its products, for instance, enabling people to start and stop appliances as well as adjust settings just by talking. Others won’t be far behind. This represents the start of a new kind of consumer experience – and ongoing consumer relationship – that just hasn’t been possible before. 

Agile ecosystems

Most marketers agree that creating these new experiences means making better use of the ecosystem. And it’s true: a living ecosystem works as a collaboration engine bringing sales, service, IT, R&D together with the extended executive team to create flawless consumer experiences.

This means that companies should become orchestrators of their ecosystems, keeping core capabilities in-house while plugging into the array of services and partners that create a multiplier effect – one that benefits the consumer, the brand, and all the ecosystem participants. 

As the need for personalised experience and tailored marketing becomes ever more pressing, those ecosystem relationships become much more than a nice idea – they become a core part of competitive advantage and a key means of building consumer relationships for the long haul. 

Applied analytics

The marketing strategies that work rely heavily on having the right data – and using it in the right way. That’s true for marketing today and, with the advent of hyper-personalisation, an explosion in new digital touchpoints, and advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning – it’s going to be even more so for marketing tomorrow. 

The key to managing this process is to bring advertising and marketing technologies, ecommerce platforms, CRM systems, and sales and service applications together with an increasingly complex mix of traditional and unconventional data sets in a living "experience architecture" – one that offers a highly integrated, carefully orchestrated comprehensive view of the consumer.

Doing so means moving beyond familiar "descriptive" data analytics that tells you what’s already happened. It means investing in "predictive" analytics that tells you what will happen. It means creating real-time snapshots of the consumer. And it means using the full power of the ecosystem.

Moving to modern CPG

 The one thing we can all be sure about is that there’ll be more disruption ahead. That’s why having a business that can sense and respond to market conditions and consumer behaviour has become so important. It’s about moving to a "modern" form of CPG and committing to new relationships which meet consumers on their terms. It’s about capturing the value of the rapidly evolving digital technologies that are creating near endless possibilities for agile and hyper-personalised consumer experiences. 

More than anything, it’s about developing a living marketing capability that responds to the individual – and shapes propositions in real time. That’s how you stay relevant to tomorrow’s generation of consumers.

John Zealley is senior managing director and industry lead for consumer goods and services at Accenture