New Study Exposes Debate On Keys To Marketing-Led Growth – Forbes

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Debate over best frameworks for growth are hotly debated says new study from MMA.
A new study, Marketer Benchmark Study on Growth, has been released by MMA Global, the association devoted to architecting the future of marketing for CMOs, with findings that revealed a 50/50 split among marketers on to how to best achieve growth. The results highlighted two distinct schools of thought. The first group is dubbed Go Long & Broad Purists who have a strong conviction around the traditional principles of brand building, reach and penetration as the drivers of growth. The other group is made up of Pragmatic Balancers who take advantage of modern marketing opportunities and choose to balance different approaches without always having one unifying theory.
Norm de Greve, MMA chair emeritus and CVS Health CMO
According to Norm de Greve, MMA’s North America chair emeritus and CVS CMO, the study was a result of discussions that fellow MMA board members and CMOs were having about growth frameworks. He expressed that the marketing discipline can be quite undisciplined. “We were having a really in-depth discussion about our frameworks for growth. And it became pretty clear that there were many different frameworks for growth. That was interesting because, in a lot of other disciplines, you don’t have the senior people in the industry saying, ‘No, I think about it totally differently’. If you don’t have a framework for growth, then you really don’t have a framework against which to evaluate all of the shiny objects that show up every day.”
MMA reviewed growth frameworks from leading researchers, including:
· Dr. Peter Fader from Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania
· Dr. Dominique Hanssens from UCLA Anderson Graduate School of Management
· Professor Byron Sharp from University of South Australia
· Joel Rubinson of Rubinson Partners
· Dr. Leslie Wood of NCSolutions
· Jared Schrieber of Numerator
What is it about having frameworks that seemed to generate results? According to de Greve, “I think it’s the ability to filter out what you shouldn’t be doing. And then its picking which frameworks are right for which situation. I think that there’s a real attractiveness to driving the growth out of people who already do business with you. But you drop the ball on household penetration at a consumer company, then it’s going to be a problem.”
Linda Lee, Campbell’s CMO
Study participant Linda Lee, CMO of Campbell’s, discussed using multiple frameworks. She shared, “When I think about the growth frameworks that were presented in the series, I think it solidified my belief that you can’t just have one. It’s nice. It helps with simplicity but doesn’t work when you have a broad portfolio of different categories, different brand sizes and brands at different stages of their development.” She expanded on each of the frameworks presented, “Professor Peter Fader’s growth framework resonated for me because it starts with the consumer and not the brand – find who your advocates naturally are and build upon that. The next one, Dr. Hanssen’s, was around long-term value of marketing and using data science and marketing mixes to help understand [what works]. At Campbell’s, we continue to use annual marketing mixes as a tool because there are just so many levers and putting a bit of that data science rigor is important. Joel Rubinson talked about the movable middle, and I think that is super relevant. Our brand Prego has the largest movable middle. As you can imagine, almost everyone buys Italian sauce and we are the number one share, so understanding what drives that movable middle will be a good insight. Dr. Leslie Wood was saying that creative matters. I think sometimes when you’re looking at a marketing mix, you often forget that the creative matters. Finally, Jared Schrieber’s brand growth flywheel was a very understandable and intuitive way of identifying where culture matters, where influencers and advocates matter, [where buying occasions matter and category differentiation matters].”
Amardeep Kahlon, CMO of Reckitt
Amardeep Kahlon, CMO of Reckitt, shared his experience with frameworks, “One of the classic frameworks that I’ve used heavily was the Ehrenberg-Bass model (Professor Sharp’s), which was around mental availability, building distinctive brands and reaching as many people as you can. But I’ve also evolved. I’m doing some work with my data science team about experiments demonstrating how we can influence that moveable middle up to the higher purchase propensity. So I’d call myself an evolutionary framework user.” He continued, “I was more in the reach camp historically. Now I’m moving more towards precision. With the evolution the martech and adtech stacks, we have the ability to understand our consumers and deliver the mass-personalization of experiences. Everybody wants to be treated as an individual, and if someone’s willing to give up data about themselves, they’re expecting an experience that is going to reflect the value that they’re giving you. With the evolution of advertising channels themselves, almost everything is moving to a more digital and intimate space. It doesn’t mean that reach isn’t important, but I think it’s an evolution of where marketing is going.”
Campbell’s Soup is growing again
Lee described that one of her favorite growth stories involved modernizing the Campbell’s Condensed Soup brand. She said, “When you look at the history, which was year-over-year decline in sales and household penetration and to be able to turn that around, I think that is a great example of growth. it was multifaceted. We had to make sure that the food was what today’s consumers expected, the actual ingredients and the quality. It also involved our communications. It wasn’t about looking backwards; it was about tapping into people who love Campbell’s. Let’s not shy away from that. Let’s share that with pride, bring that to life in our communications, but do it in a modern way. The last year and a half has been modernizing not just TV, but some other things like an NFT, like a partnership launching tomato soup and grilled cheese scented candles. The modernization of influencers and partnerships was part of that plan. And the single largest touchpoint, the packaging graphics, had to feel modern too. Consumers have responded! We were starting to see positive momentum before the pandemic, which then added additional tailwinds. What has been telling is the ability to maintain that now coming into year three, and specifically with Gen Z and Millennial households. They continue to be the growth to this brand.”
Growth of Enfamil brand was a result of precision marketing
Kahlon’s favorite success story took a different tact. “I’m probably the most proud of the growth of Infamil, an infant nutrition brand. We’re very fortunate working in that space because it matters a lot to our moms and dads. By using precision data, we’re able to reach a significant number of expecting parents, and to drive really high conversion. So when parents make a choice for their baby around whether they want to be formula-fed, we’re able to reach almost 90% of those parents. We’ve built a CRM program that goes the entire journey from prenatal all the way to feeding their child. It’s all data-driven based on signals.. So, I think doing those consumer experience journeys well, understanding those moments where people are either struggling or they need to make a choice and then intersecting with the right message at the right time is something that my team has done well.
The MMA study also asked respondents to allocate the impact of various marketing levers to their companies’ growth over the past three years. The results were:
· Advertising and media – 29%
· Promotional activity – 19%
· Price – 19%
· Sales – 16%
· Innovation – 11%
· Distribution – 5%
The low impact of innovation was surprising but explained by Campbell’s Lee. She commented. “If you look at the magnitude and contribution of in-year innovation to the core business, it is small. But I think that’s where some of these metrics can fail because innovation takes time. It is about investing for the future. It’s how you bring news to the category, how you keep it relevant. So I do think it’s an important piece to keeping your category and your brand fresh.”
The MMA will be hosting a series five virtual roundtables, each focusing on a different key marketing growth driver, including marketing attribution, creative, organization design, data, and customer experience. For more information on the upcoming roundtables, visit here.

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