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2017 has been a challenging year for yogurt. Like other dairy products, it’s facing the growing competition from plant-based alternatives, as consumers become increasingly accustomed to free-from offerings. Moreover, yogurt seems to be losing ground as a go-to protein source, as other categories are leveraging consumers' enthusiasm for protein.
As a response, brands of dairy yogurt have tried to refocus and improve their well-known natural health benefits, while reinforcing their indulgence credentials.
Here, Caroline Roux, Global Food & Drink Analyst, takes a look at the key consumer trends shaping the yogurt market and the latest in product innovation.
Functional, but natural
In 2017, we’ve seen more brands communicating about digestive health. In 2017, yogurt accounted for 34% of new foods featuring a digestive health claim, according to Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD), up from 25% two years earlier. Indeed, consumers still reach out to yogurt for their digestive health. In the US, for example, one third of yogurt users agree that they eat it for aided digestion, while 47% of Spanish users choose it because it’s good for digestive health.
Meanwhile, more yogurts have started highlighting their protein content. Responding to consumer demand, between 2015 and 2017, the share of high protein products in new spoonable yogurt (dairy- and plant-based) increased from 7% to 10%.
Calcium content has also become more relevant than ever. Although plant-based products are not natural sources of calcium, they ‘shout louder’ about fortification than conventional dairy products. In 2017, just 6% of new dairy yogurt claimed to be fortified compared to 22% of plant-based spoonable yogurt. As yogurt remains a widely favourite source of calcium, dairy products have a chance to promote naturally occurring calcium to win a competitive edge over the added calcium in plant-based dairy.
"Clean eating" is one of the newest dietary trends that is taking hold in many countries. In essence, it encourages people to eat real or whole foods that are not processed or are minimally processed, handled and refined.
In 2017, dairy- and plant-based yogurts have responded to consumers wanting reassurance about food. Many brands have looked into improving their natural attributes and health credentials by eliminating unwanted ingredients - particularly sugar - and by giving full disclosure on their manufacturing processes. Mintel research finds that 56% of yogurt consumers in the UK would choose a yogurt with a short ingredients list over one with a long list, while about six in 10 Italian consumers check for added sugar on yogurt packaging.
Focus on indulgence
As a result of their strong positioning on health and wellness, plant-based alternatives lag behind dairy yogurt in terms of indulgence perception - two fifths of Spanish consumers agree that non-dairy yogurts are not as tasty as dairy yogurts.
While brands continue to innovate with unexpected and gourmet flavours, a growing number of yogurt and dessert brands are also elevating texture in their product descriptions as an element of differentiation. Some brands are already calling their products by their texture characteristic, e.g. GÜ Mousse Fusions, Müller Velvet.
The return of fat
Recent innovation around texture has been made possible by the use of more fat. As the risks posed by saturated fats are being re-evaluated in some countries, traditional full fat dairy products have started to be re-introduced in place of lower fat variants, leading to more creamy and indulgent products.
Among products launched in 2017, the average fat content of dairy spoonable yogurt increased by 6% compared to the year before
Yogurt is commonly eaten as a snack at various times of the day. Brands have worked hard to develop formulations that meet the needs of consumers depending on the snacking occasions, with filling and healthy yogurt for the mid-morning occasion and indulgent, gourmet options for post-dinner consumption. However, there is scope for yogurt brands to also innovate in terms of formats. Portable and convenient formats will help yogurt expand usage occasions towards consumption on the go and in-between meals, as well as adding excitement to the category. While yogurt with bits can hit the mark both in terms of flavour and texture.
10 interesting dairy and plant-based yogurts reflecting these trends
Danone Activia Blueberry-Acai Probiotic Yogurt (Canada) contains B.L. Regularis probiotics that are said to contribute to a healthy gut flora. This yogurt has real fruit on the bottom and is free from preservatives, gelatin, and artificial flavours, colours and sweeteners.
Forager Strawberry Creamy Dairy-free Cashewgurt (USA) is a cashew-based, organic yogurt alternative, suitable for vegans and kosher-certified. The product is also free from gluten, lactose, and soy, and contains probiotics.
Danone Oikos Lemon Pie Flavoured Yogurt (Spain) reflects the category’s renewed focus on indulgence. The yogurt features lemon pie and biscuit pieces and combines the world of desserts with the creaminess and permissibility of yogurt.
Mein Q Plain Protein Fitness Base Yogurt (Germany) is described as the ideal base for muesli and smoothies, with only 0.4% fat and a high protein content which helps building muscle.
Stapleton Prune & Date Yogurt (UK) is a low-fat yogurt with sunflower seeds, cereals and grains, with the bits adding extra texture.
Yukijirushi Megmilk Megumi Aloe & Chia Seed and Mixed Acerola Yogurt (Japan) gives an overall health boost to the body thanks to the properties of its superfood ingredients. Two pots come in a mild and refreshing aloe flavour, while the other two are made with antioxidant rich acerola and feature grainy chia seeds.
Brown Cow Organics Carrot & Turmeric Organic Live Yoghurt (UK) is made with vegetables, instead of fruit. The product contains only naturally occurring sugars and features the EU Green Leaf and Organic Soil Association logos.
Apple Cinnamon Ready-to-Eat Overnight Oatmeal w/ Greek Yogurt (USA) is a quick, ready-to-eat breakfast made with oatmeal soaked overnight in apple juice, then mixed with yogurt and fruit. The product contains half a bowl of oatmeal for long lasting energy, half an apple to keep the doctor away and protein packed Greek yogurt.
Raglan Coconut Yogurt Vanilla Bean Coconut Yogurt (New Zealand) is free from dairy, gluten, refined sugar, preservatives, nuts and GMOs, and is suitable for vegans and people on paleo diets. It’s made with coconut yogurt paired with vanilla, which has been used for centuries as an antioxidant and to reduce inflammation and improve mental performance.
Siggi's Raspberry Triple Cream Icelandic-Style Strained Yogurt (USA) contains an exceptional 9% milk fat, which makes this yogurt extra thick and creamy. The all natural product is made with whole milk from grass-fed cows and cream.
Mintel is the world's leading market intelligence agency. For over 40 years, Mintel's expert analysis of the highest quality data and market research has directly impacted on client success. With offices in London, Chicago, Belfast, Düsseldorf, Kuala Lumpur, Mumbai, Munich, New York, São Paulo, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo, and Toronto, Mintel has forged a unique reputation as a world-renowned business brand.
Posted By Shane O'Leary, Strategy & Insights Manager at GroupM Ireland,
Wednesday 11 April 2018
Updated: Tuesday 10 April 2018
'Guys it's simple, we just need to find a big, interesting, brand relevant platform that can live over the long term, and then spend our time hammering it home in different tactical ways.'
The cranky old creative director was getting a bit frustrated at this stage.
We were reaching that awful mid point of a large pitch. Ad agency people will recognise it. It's around the time when early enthusiasm is draining, tiredness sets in and and the desire to punch each other in the face starts to become a viable option.
It was one of my first pitches. As a young exec with little proper planning under my belt, I, like others in the group, was having trouble actually grasping what a 'creative platform' meant.
Simple, but not easy
In my social media addled brain, a brand that said the same thing over and over again was boring, a one trick pony. I felt that brands should be like chameleons, changing quickly, adapting to trends and communicating through mini campaigns.
But the wily old creative director wasn't having it. His experience and knowledge told him otherwise. Great brands are generally consistent. Great brand managers think in decades not quarters. Big ideas and strategy before execution and tactics.
He got his way. And though we lost the pitch, over the last decade or so I've come to understand exactly what he meant.
A great creative platform is a shot in the arm for a business. It's one of the most powerful, most often ignored tools of great marketing.
Getting to a great creative platform fits that beautiful concept of 'simple but not easy'. You can easily describe it, but it's incredibly difficult to pull off.
Like simplicity, it's also the ultimate in sophistication.
The power of thinking short and long
Short-termism is a cancer on modern marketing. The pressure is on CMOs to show results or move on and most of the digital tools we use are inherently short term in outlook.
We've focused on massaging the end of the marketing funnel through tactical, rational highly targeted campaigns focusing on short term, often irrelevant metrics.
We've come to prioritise tactics and short term activation campaigns over strategy.
But as Sun Tzu said, 'tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat'.
The problem is, this may be draining all the equity from your brand. Logic dictates that without filling the funnel the top by creating demand and building brands, there's nobody left to convert.
The immediate, ADD style focus of brand managers who want to constantly change what's notable and memorable about their brand actually destroys the brand over time.
Oh, and there's also the fact that everything we know about how advertising works tells us we need both a short and long term approach, integrated across many channels.
The work of Binet and Field, Byron Sharp, Paul Feldwick, Martin Weigel, System 1 Research prove the point.
Long term, creative, emotive, fame building campaigns are multiple times more effective.
Great brands focus on building and consistently using distinctive assets (logos, tagline, colours, music) that bring the brand front of mind. They avoid unnecessary changes, yet still keeping the brand fresh.
Fluency, or speed and ease with which people process information about your brand, is one of the key ways you can build brand success. This is closely linked to how distinctive or salient the brand is. Fluency is only built over time by creating and amplifying distinctive brand properties, such as colours, symbols, slogans and sounds.
Branding is inherently based on consistency. People are evolutionarily hard wired to hate inconsistency. It's literally part of our brains. Brands facilitate that by being clear about what they offer. One of the key functions of a brand is to provide a heuristic, a simple mental shortcut that allows people make decisions in store or online quickly. If a brand is constantly changing what it's about, whether through advertising, packaging, logo or product, then its value diminishes.
So advertising that is consistent over time is financially valuable. It helps increase price elasticity and drives profit. Companies that invest heavily in branding in the long term outperform the stock market. That's not a coincidence.
Clarity, focus and prioritisation are the core tenets of a great market strategy. It's about deciding what not to do, along with what to do.
And that's why brands that focus on building the structure of a big, memorable, distinctive creative platform and fuelling this fire over time are so successful.
They understand the power long term thinking and see a creative platform as an incredible 'force multiplier'.
Force multipliers are tools that help you amplify your effort to produce more output. Investing in force multipliers means that you’ll get more done with the same amount of effort. They're levers that help to generate momentum. They amplify and concentrate a small input into a larger output. A hammer is a force multiplier.
And so is a great creative platform.
According to Kantar's yearly 'Ad Reaction' survey of 14,500 people in 45 countries, campaigns that have a strong consistent creative platform perform better across all brand KPIs by 64%.
If that's not a force multiplier I don't know what is.
Your creative platform is the unifying, overarching idea behind the creative you produce. It provides clear guiding principles as to what we're about and what we don't want to do.
Ideally, it's a concept so beautifully simple and strong that it instantly allows you to come up with an idea that fulfils it. A motivator instead of a constraint.
Many make the mistake of confusing a brand's tagline with a platform. This is a difficult concept to explain, but while a platform can be described using words, it's more than just a brand line. A creative platform to be is a gestalt, a sum of many things in tandem including music, creative direction, words, media choices, brand assets, colours, partnerships and tactical execution.
Of course, this is extraordinarily difficult to pull off.
Have you ever tried to create an extraordinarily simple, pithy, engrossing, big idea that channels the brand you're working for, while getting stakeholders with different incentives to rally around and execute against it in a variety of different consistent ways? It's the marketing equivalent of herding cats.
But that's what the best creative directors and strategists in the world do.
Here are some examples:
(Note, many of the creative examples given are either TV or VOD spots. However, all of these platforms stretch across all channels in their own ways. It's just easier to find creative examples on YouTube!)
Guinness 'Made Of More'
The grand daddy of all creative platforms. Guinness, more than any other brand, understands the power of consistency and hammering home distinctive assets and a clear platform over time. 'Made of More' is now over 6 years old, has been brought to life in hundreds of different ways and yet still retains its creativity and clarity. Guinness has probably had over 100 agencies working on their business across the world during this time, but still the platform shines through. This is a particularly fine example of how a platform is more than just a line. The 'Made Of More' creative treatment has remained consistent over time, as have the brand's distinctive colours, while the stories told all follow a similar pattern.
Snickers 'You're Not You When You're Hungry'
'You're not you when you're hungry' (YNYWYH) was formulated as a response to hard times in 2009, when Snickers' global share of value sales dramatically dropped. The platform took the simple premise that there are certain universal symptoms of hunger; you become irritable, weak, or dopey, and sets Snickers up as the antidote. This simplicity of insight meant widespread adoption across Snickers' many markets, and has fuelled some of the most famous ads of all time.
In its first full year, "You’re not you when you’re hungry" helped increase global sales of Snickers by 15.9% and grew market share in 56 of the 58 markets in which it ran, and the global approach has created some huge efficiencies for the brand in terms of production cost.
The brand stretched the platform into a multi award winning digital execution in 2016, measuring angry sentiment on the web and decreasing the price of the bar based upon how ticked off it got.
And when the platform was flagging, they reinvigorated it with this classic spot using Mr Bean.
Globally, the revenue return from this campaign alone was estimated at US $10.65 for every US $1 invested.
The platform is still in use today. Check out this brilliant IPA case study.
AIB 'The Toughest'
Award winning in both Ireland and Europe, AIB's GAA sponsorship platform 'The Toughest' has ushered in a new era of multi channel creativity in Irish marketing. Starting from a point of minimal awareness, the campaign has evolved into a creative beast. While it has retained its consistent of the GAA club championships being 'the toughest' to win, this is not about 'matching luggage' or using the same creative in every channel. It's about using the strong platform and tweaking it to bring it to life in a myriad of different ways across many channels across multiple years.
Fosters 'Good Call'
This one might be a little unfamiliar to you, but it's no less brilliant than the others. As a forty year old brand in a mature market, Foster's had lost touch with the new generation of men. This campaign upturned the normal category convention in beer of 'bravado' and helped to bring a dose of 'Aussie positivity' to men in the UK. 'Brad' and 'Dan' characters have been used since 2010 as Aussie agony aunts in a variety of ways across all channels.
The results were incredible. The first campaign moved the beer from third to first in the market and initially generated £32 revenue for every £1 spent on advertising making it the biggest ever ROMI seen in the IPA Awards, and an obvious gold medal winner. Check out the brilliant case study here if you have WARC access.
Other brilliant examples of clear, consistent brand platforms include:
Compare The Market's 'Meerkat'
Domino's 'Official Food Of Everything'
Vodafone 'Team Of Us'
(For full disclosure, I was somewhat involved in the last two. If you have any others, please let me know in the comments)
Quantifying the benefits
So now you've seen some examples, what is it that a great creative platform does for a business?
Firstly, it enables autonomy. It gives people creative license to come up with tactical executions but with the framework of a clear platform. If, as Adam Morgan says, creativity thrives within constraints, then a creative platform is the ultimate 'beautiful constraint'. It gives a clear focus point that everyone understands implicitly, but also allows decentralised, intuitive, informal decision making. You can feel whether a tactical idea is right or not if you have a great platform.
Secondly, it aids integration. Consistent research has shown that multi-channel campaigns actually make the same budget work harder and more efficiently and advertising across platforms delivers a higher ROI, and that integrated campaigns build better brand associations and more brand equity. In a world of channel complexity when it's not unusual to have four agencies work on one account, integration is absolutely vital.
According to Kantar's study, campaigns with a strong central idea are far more likely to remain integrated even when individual elements are customised for specific placements because the platform provides greater flexibility or elasticity. So you can customise for YouTube or Facebook or display without losing the core consistency of the idea.
It’s clear to see that cross platform advertising builds brands in consumer brains better than a single platform. Brands that know what they want to say and let that flow coherently into each channel will perform better.
You often have many big egos and brains around an inter agency table and, to be honest, many competing incentives. A clear platform that everyone buys into solves the problem of interagency communication and stops the PR agency going off on a solo run or the media agency mis-briefing a publisher. It allows people to act cohesively in service of a bigger idea, not individually with their own thoughts. It focuses everyone involved and provides a rallying call.
Thirdly, it actually helps the brand speed up. While it might sound paradoxical, having a concrete structure actually helps the brand react quickly. It creates a centre of gravity that provides direction, but also allows the brand to move quickly when it spots media or tactical opportunities, since anyone can easily evaluate whether or not it fits with the platform. If you know what you're about and what you're not about, then you can move quicker than a competitor who is lost in the fog of uncertainty. A creative platform allows what Adam Morgan calls 'strategic dramatism'. In the modern age, brand's need to be dramatic to gain attention at times, but this has to be consistent and coherent. Drama on its own is wasted unless it ladders up to what the brand is all about. A great platform is a blueprint for that.
Fourth, it also helps us to avoid the scourge of the 'channel tunnel'. Real creativity requires understanding that a big idea must work everywhere, and isn’t based on using a new channel or technology. Channels and platforms are the equivalent of creative canvases that we paint on. But they’re benign without a strong creative idea. Big platform idea first, channel, medium, tactics and execution second.
Don't get me wrong, great ideas need to live within channels. Great tactics bring great strategies to life. A big idea is nothing without a supporting cast of hundreds of small ideas that communicate it.
But execution should be an afterthought, not the place we start. Clear creative platforms ensure this doesn't happen.
And finally, consistency and clarity of focus also provides its own advantage for the business. It's pretty likely that most of your competitors don't really know what they're trying to say and jerk from tactical campaign to tactical campaign. This vision is an Archimedes lever for a brand, particularly in the long term. It ensures we don't erode brand value by doing things that are incongruent to what the brand is about. It stops us making an ass of ourselves.
For brands, consistency is a virtue. We can never forget that.
Brands like Guinness, AIB, Fosters and Snickers understand that they need to give their brand managers and agencies total freedom within the constraints of an agreed framework.
This sounds like an oxymoron.
But it's not.
The opposite is wasteful - different tactical ideas being thrown around with no real focus or clarity.
A great creative platform is beautifully elegant, incredibly hard to get to and is guaranteed to make your business money in the long run.
Posted By Steven Roberts, Head of Marketing at Griffith College ,
Wednesday 11 April 2018
Updated: Monday 9 April 2018
Marketers across Europe are by now well aware of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and its imminent arrival on 25th May. The prospect of fines up to €20 million or 4% of global turnover has grabbed our collective attention.
It can be difficult within the mix of legal analyses and media reports to identify exactly what the legislation will mean for the marketing profession. It is all too easy in our day-to-day handling of projects and challenges to put off implementing the changes required to comply with the new law. A recent study by McCann Fitzgerald and Mazars found that three quarters of Irish businesses are unprepared for the introduction of GDPR.
To simplify the process, I outline some of the core principles to be aware of and list some steps you can take to ensure you and your team are compliant.
Understand the seven core principles for processing personal data.
There are seven fundamental principles that apply when processing personal data. This is the place to start your compliance journey as it forms the core of GDPR.
1.Lawful, fair and transparent. Firms are required to process data in a lawful, fair and transparent manner. When collecting personal data, you must advise what processing will be done, and in clear and straightforward language.
2.Purpose limitation. Personal data should only be obtained and used for specific, explicit and legitimate purposes. Marketers must take care to avoid ‘scope creep’ and the inclination to use data for activities beyond what the consumer might reasonably expect they have consented to.
3.Data minimisation. Think clearly about the data you actually need. Make sure it is relevant and necessary only for the purposes for which it is being processed.
4.Accuracy. Put policies in place to ensure your data is both accurate and up-to-date.
5.Storage limitation. Do not keep data for longer than necessary. If you do not have clear retention policies at your firm, now is the time to put these in place.
6.Integrity and confidentiality. Make sure your data is confidential and secure. If you have a CRM, for example, put in place clear user rights and controls on who can access what data.
7.Accountability. Your firm is responsible for compliance with GDPR and must be able to demonstrate this.
Know the legal basis for processing personal data.
There are six legitimate bases for processing someone’s personal data.
1.Consent must be freely given, specific, unambiguous and informed. It will no longer be lawful to use implied or passive consent such as pre-ticked boxes on websites. As consumers can withdraw their consent at any time, other bases such as contract or legitimate interest may be a more viable long-term option for businesses.
2.Firms can process data if the processing is required to enter into or perform a contract.
3.Legal obligation – i.e. if an obligation exists under EU or member state law.
4. If it is in the vital interests of the data subject.
5.If it is in the public interest.
6.If it is in the legitimate interests of the controller or processor, but this must be balanced against the rights of the data subject.
Know your data
The next step is to gain a thorough understanding of your current data. This is achieved through a data audit, which looks at aspects such as:
What data do you currently store?
Why did you obtain it?
What purpose was it obtained for?
What security and retention policies are in place?
Is there a policy and procedure in place to respond to data access requests?
Are contracts in place with third party suppliers who process your data?
Depending on the size of your firm, it may require hours, days or a number of months to establish a detailed inventory of all the data you are currently storing and utilising. A useful part of this process is to put together a diagram or visual representation of the data.
Train your team
It is too easy to presume that knowledge of data protection is the job of the data protection officer (DPO) or legal counsel. As a marketing professional, and one of the larger users of data within your firm, you and your team must ensure you have adequate training on GDPR and best practice. As much as possible, this should be undertaken across the full team. Anyone who interacts with personal data should have at least a grounding in the basics of GDPR, particularly the legal bases for processing.
Change your mindset
Over the years, many of us will have had KPIs to increase our databases. A new mindset is required. We need to focus on having the most qualified and compliant database of contacts. GDPR gives consumers a greater say in how their personal data is used. These new, lighter, more focused lists will enable us to communicate with consumers who are genuinely interested in our firm’s products and services.
Most marketing databases have contacts dating back many years. GDPR requires you are able to provide tangible proof that they provided consent to have their data processed. Many firms are now undertaking re-permissioning of their databases for this purpose. Firms will need to put in place a ‘consent store’ or some form of centralised system where this proof can be quickly and easily accessed.
Prepare for data access requests
GDPR removes the previous cost of €6.35 to make a data access request, while the response time is shortened to 30 days. Many commentators expect to see an increase in requests. Work with your data team or in-house experts to put in place a procedure. Who will follow up on the request once it is received? Have you a clear understanding of where the data is held? Are there multiple owners that need to input? Putting in the effort in advance will save you time, hassle and stress in the long run.
Put processor agreements in place
Many firms use third party suppliers to process data on their behalf. Marketing examples could include a retargeting company, CRM provider or a web agency. Under GDPR you are obliged to put in place formal contracts with these suppliers. This can take time, so if you haven’t begun already, now is the time to take action.
Undertake Data Protection Impact Assessments
Data Protection Impact Assessments (DPIAs) will be mandatory for any new activities that involve the systematic processing of large amounts of personal data. For example, the introduction of a new CRM system or international data transfers. A DPIA must be undertaken prior to any processing activity taking place. Take the time to build this into the timelines and procurement practices for upcoming projects you may be working on that fit this category.
The GDPR will be upon us in less than three months. The good news is you still have time to commence your journey towards compliance. Use the compound effect. Take clear steps each day. By getting to know the legislation and core principles, you and your team will be well placed to prosper under the new data regime.
About the author
Steven Roberts is Head of Marketing at Griffith College and a Certified Data Protection Officer.
The opinions expressed are the author’s. They are not intended as a substitute for seeking professional legal advice on data protection and GDPR.
Posted By The Marketing Institute,
Tuesday 10 April 2018
Irish audiences will get their first chance to hear about the Chinese mega retailer's success strategies deploying immersive technologies, at the forthcoming ARVR Innovate conference taking place on May 10th in the RDS. Jian Gu is Senior Technical Expert in the AI Lab in Alibaba, where he is responsible for Aligenie AR open platform. In 2006, Gu Jian was woking in HIT Lab NZ (in University of Canterbury, New Zealand) which is funded by Mark Billinghurst (inventor of ARToolkit) and is one of the top augmented reality research laboratories in the world.
Also speaking at the event will be Miguel Sanchez the Founder and Creative Director of Mass Ideation, a Bronx, NY based Creative Agency specializing in Strategy, Storytelling and Interactive work, especially within the AR, VR & MR technologies. Miguel now works with brands like Chanel, Louis Vuitton, publicly traded Content Studio Recall Studios and Stealthmode start-up OpticSurg on Mixed Reality Strategy and Development. Miguel's talk will focus on how marketers can convince stakeholders to begin using AR, VR & MR in any marketing campaign now. Other companies participating at the conference include Audi, War Ducks, Samsung and Google.
MII have a special members discount of 15% off ticket price which can be availed of on the booking site www.arvrinnovate.com using the promotional code MII.
Why is marketing so often considered an expense rather than an investment by company directors? Do boards have the requisite skills to enable marketing to become central to their businesses’ strategies? And what should directors individually and collectively do to ensure marketing is strategic, not tactical, and contributes long-term value?
These, and other big questions, are triggered by a new study which analyses research to provide evidence of marketing’s contribution to profitability and brand building. Marketing Multiplied is published by Core Media, in association with the Association of Advertisers in Ireland. It should drive change in how directors perceive marketing – and how marketers communicate the value of marketing as a driver of business performance.
The study busts myths and accepted norms about a discipline that has suffered from a perception that it is too much about art and not enough about science. In the past 10 years, for instance, the study notes that the volume of short-term campaigns as tracked by the IPA, the global advertising body, has quadrupled. This is despite compelling evidence that long-term strategic campaigns are three times more effective in growing market share ratios.
Another theme is how little weight marketing carries at either board or CEO level. In designing the curriculum for the Chartered Director Programme, the Institute of Directors blended business strategy and marketing into the same module, as marketing’s perspective of “customer centricity” underpins good business strategy.
However, that principle is not applied in most boards. Just 2.6% of the 65,000 board members of S&P 1500 companies in 2015 had managerial level marketing experience, according to a study from Virginia's Darden School of Business. Marketing is a discipline with a high female quota, providing a pipeline for boards conscious of gender balance. Yet marketers are not in demand in the boardroom.
Many directors and even some academics argue that marketing should not be given airtime in the boardroom as it is fundamentally about tactics and not strategy. This argument cuts to the heart of the misunderstanding about marketing strategy and this is exactly the thinking that this study can challenge with solid evidence.
Patrick Coveney, CEO of Greencore plc and Chairman of Core Media, is in no doubt that boards need more marketers. Typically, he says, boards are dominated by people with “financial or engineering backgrounds who are not necessarily trained to understand the consumer, the competitor landscape and external environment in a way that a skilled marketer can.”
Arguably, though, marketers have not made themselves obvious candidates for board roles by not communicating marketing’s strategic value and/or by not producing robust data on financial returns. Marketers can often focus on their latest campaigns, simplistic metrics and jargon, even hyperbole, which serve to disconnect them from their boards.
This needs to change. Operationally, marketers are playing an increasingly critical role in planning the future of their businesses. Senior marketers are being charged with responsibilities for all or some of their companies’ digital transformation agendas. For certain sectors, this could well dictate the very survival of those businesses in the next three to five years, such is the pace of digital disruption.
What can directors do?
Directors who want to create value for their businesses need to take marketing seriously. What to do? Here are some suggestions:
1. Familiarise yourself with where marketing can add strategic value to your business
2. Align strategic marketing objectives with your business objectives
3. Ensure the board pack includes marketing KPIs that are meaningful
4. Ask the right questions at board meetings -- less about individual campaigns and more about customer requirements, the competitive landscape, your business’s capabilities and strategies
5. Avoid short-termism and knee-jerk reactions to potential risks, such as cutting marketing budgets or shifting focus as they could potentially damage long-term brand building goals
6. Consider the skills balance within your board
About the author
Aileen O’Toole is a Chartered Director and a Digital Strategist. She is a board member of the Road Safety Authority and of Business in the Community. A co-founder of The Sunday Business Post newspaper, she is a fellow of the Marketing Institute of Ireland. Aileen can be contacted via her email address; email@example.com, through her website; www.aileenotoole.ie, or through her LinkedIn profile.