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Marketing Insights: Are We Ready for Tomorrow?

Keith Weed, Chief Marketing & Communications Officer at Unilever, and Stan Sthanunathan, SVP of Consumer Marketing Insights at Unilever and ARF Board Member, gave the opening day’s keynote. When it comes to change, “the pace of change will never be this slow again.” We need to be nimble and be able to react and build our businesses accordingly.

Keith discussed the ABC’s of Marketing:

A = Audience. For a company that is interested in serving people, understanding people well is the first step. People are engaging with each other and with brands in different ways. Some of the challenges that researchers can help marketers with are:

  •    TV-centric measurement→ Content everywhere
  •    Linear→ Multi-touch
  •    Mass marketing→ Hyper targeted marketing

B = Brands. Brands are here to stay. If you want to differentiate your products, there is nothing better than brands to do that. Stickability of brands has never been so challenging, but also so possible. What researchers should address:

  •    Fragmentation→ Consistency
  •    Broadcast→ Create with people
  •    Marketing to consumers → Mattering to people

C = Content. How do we get content that breaks through the clutter? What are we going to do that engages them? What’s worthy and what’s not? There is now a shift:

  •    From optimizing broadcast –> Creating talkability
  •    Measuring recall and persuasion –> Assessing engagement
  •    Siloed deliverables –> Orchestrated and integrated

Stan continued the presentation and introduced the robot Nao – a robot that can do facial coding, eye tracking and carry on conversations on the fly. The world of marketing is changing, and if we don’t change, we run the risk of being left behind. We need to lead the change.

Stan added a fourth dimension to the ABCs with D = Data. Today, the biggest driver of change is data. Data is fundamentally changing the world of insights in three ways: democratization, disintermediation, and deluge. “Data is the new gold”, but it’s not just about the data, it’s about what we do with it.

Our goal is to get to a point where we can say: “I have the answer, what is your question.” This vision calls for an expanded set of skills and capabilities: human and cultural futures, digital insights in a connected world, storytelling, cognitive science, and data science. Time spent on predicting the future is not time well spent. From predicting the future, we should shape the future. From generating insights we should be driving outcomes, from risk mitigation to imagining possibilities, from tried and tested tools to innovative approaches, from studying consumers to building relationships with people.


ARF members can access the full deck by contacting knowledgecenter@thearf.org .

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