Structuring Around a Shopper Who Is ... Everywhere

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Structuring Around a Shopper Who Is ... Everywhere

By Dan Ochwat - 09/25/2017

Domino’s Pizza this year launched a series of TV spots parodying the popular 1980s film “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” Starring actor Joe Keery (notably of the Netflix show “Stranger Things”), the spots include one ad with Keery ordering pizza via Amazon Alexa and tracking the order in the shower with a smartwatch. The campaign demonstrates Domino’s ability to be wherever a shopper is.

Arc Worldwide’s April Carlisle cited Domino’s as a company that’s executing “everywhere commerce” well. “A year ago, it was novel that you can Tweet a pizza emoji and Domino’s would deliver,” she says. “They have repositioned themselves not as a pizza company but an innovation company. Everything they’re doing considers any place where a consumer might be open and receptive to ordering pizza.”

But as much fun as Keery, the shopper, may be having in the ads, there’s a real challenge for brands organizing around today’s shopper, who can buy everywhere and anywhere. 

For brands, the old merchandising model places sales teams and shopper marketing teams around retailers or channels – with e-commerce often getting flagged as a channel. But if the shopper is blurring the line and buying everywhere, shouldn’t brands structure or strategize around that shopper? Five leading minds in the industry tackle that question and more in this edited virtual roundtable discussion.

Is it fair to say that brands traditionally organize around channels and stores, as opposed to a shopper? 

Matt Pierre: I think that’s very fair. At this level of the funnel, where a lot of the activation dollars reside within sales, it’s structured from a [retail] customer’s perspective. 

Alison Chaltas: The typical sales organization and shopper marketing team is structured by major retailer, and for smaller companies or for smaller retailers by channel. In that environment, e-commerce is separate. That worked when Amazon didn’t have retail stores and Walmart didn’t have online.

Christopher Brace: Most companies use a version of integrated marketing communication (IMC), but this is not resulting in the right depth of integration. While IMC integrates through a campaign idea that is “cut and pasted” across all communications, a truly integrated planning process integrates through growth strategy, emotional and behavioral insights, communications strategy, and consumer and shopper story.

How should brands structure around everywhere commerce?

Mike McMahon: I think removing channel from the organizational structure could be helpful. If you take a look at Walmart, they made a decision early this year to centralize buying for all of their channels into one place. So if I’m running the pet foods department and I’m the category director for Walmart, I’m no longer responsible for just what gets into the store, I also have the responsibility for what goes into the dot-com business for Walmart.

Brace: Some organizations are moving to a new process called “connections planning,” a revised process over IMC, but it doesn’t guarantee optimized integration. Another key evolution is to push the retailer and shopper inputs to the front of the planning process and give them the same strategic weight as the brand and consumer inputs.

McMahon: In the version where the guy is responsible for volume wherever it comes from, you might have matrix organizations – experts in the e-commerce space assigned to help them nurture and grow that portion of the volume. 

Matt, so how does General Mills work on integrating planning and function early on?

Pierre: We’re not all the way to bright on that yet, but we have a centralized e-commerce team that spends a lot of time and energy beating the drum on trying to get our brand teams and our customer teams to integrate e-commerce at the front end of the planning process. 

Carlisle: We see clients looking for talent in their brand management and marketing that can easily move horizontally and vertically – someone who has a holistic picture of shoppers and their behavior. It doesn’t matter if that shopper is shopping through social, e-commerce, brick-and-mortar or through voice recognition standing in the shower talking to Alexa. 

If brands do organize around a shopper, I can’t help but think of how the titles would change. “Director of Millennial Moms?”

Chaltas: What if I became the vice president of nighttime marketing? Think about that. Right now we have a VP of a specific brand or segment like “kids products.” If we shifted to a VP of nighttime marketing, what a shopper buys at night changes significantly from what he or she buys at 7 in the morning, and that shopper is responsive to a different set of touchpoints.

Carlisle: You can’t just think of your brand within its category, you have to think about your brand within your shopper’s, and consumer’s, behavior. If you’re a food company, it’s that daypart or on-the-go occasion, and then even thinking about who can come up into your business.

McMahon: I truly believe if you put the shopper at the center of all of your decisions – including everything you know about their behaviors and attitudes, taking the quantitative and qualitative work – you can then develop a robust view of who your growth shoppers are. I could see making someone the center of excellence for the future of where shoppers are going. Then, in a practical way, bring intelligent solutions and strategies out to the brands within the organization.

Carlisle: Thinking back to my days at Procter & Gamble, we would have a brand manager and we would have a separate digital brand manager. That’s gone away. Similarly, there was a shopper agency, digital agency, e-commerce agency. So, from an agency perspective, we need to become a jack-of-all-trades, and that’s exactly what’s happened to the brand manager. You’re managing all of the touchpoints and places that shoppers can engage with your brand. It’s the hub of the wheel for sure. 

What’s holding back brands from integrating everywhere commerce?

Pierre: This is still a relatively small piece of the total pie. It’s a large piece of the growth, but it’s a small piece of the base. 

Chaltas: I would add that CPG companies are run by people who aren’t digital natives. 
Pierre: The junior folks in the organization understand this much better because that’s how they live now. That middle management group can be spotty in terms of how much they pick up the torch and run with it. 

Carlisle: You have to innovate. If there’s any advice I have, it is to adapt to that Google way. Google employees spend 80-85% on the tried and true, the work plan, but get 10-15% of their time to dream, innovate and think.

Chaltas: Tech is a speed-driven industry. CPG has not historically been a speed-driven industry. We need to start to morph into a tech mindset.

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Brace: Companies are patchwork quilts of functional silos. Each marketing function makes their contribution to the brand plan, using little to no integration with the other functional teams. Meetings are held to facilitate conversation, communication and even collaboration, but these do not equate to integration. 

Pierre: It’s having one foot in the traditional in-store game, and how do I optimize that game while squarely having my other foot in how to win the e-commerce game? The playbook for each is dramatically different. Having organizations move in concert and do both together is really hard. 

McMahon: The whole CPG world has been designed to efficiently ship physical cases of product to a store shelf. Now you have all of this disruption coming in, reframing what efficiency means in a direct-to-consumer world. I wonder, from a sales organization point of view, if there’s a different way to think about focusing around the “buy” portion of everywhere commerce, and then the marketing team works on the “influence” portion of everywhere commerce.