But where should the focus be? Forward-thinking CMOs are driving forward in three areas in particular.
First, they’re building better consumer experiences as a platform for future growth. That means bringing a broad range of data together—from stores, digital channels, social media, search engines, etc.—securely and responsibly. CMOs are using this data to develop 360-degree views of their customers and support insight-driven decisions throughout the whole organization.
Second, CMOs are pushing forward with innovation and remain focused on creating a culture of experimentation in their organizations. That’s important because, from pop-up shops to sustainable packaging, there are numerous ways CMOs can use data insights to deliver personalized value to consumers.
L’Oréal, for example, now offers an in-home smart device that predicts what a consumer’s skin needs at any given time and creates a custom formula just for that moment. When it comes to innovation like this, boldness and a willingness to take risks are essential.
Third, CMOs are looking to their network to foster growth—not just sharing talent, but really partnering on the innovation that’s critical to future success. That includes looking to bridge internal siloes and help identify where the organization needs to upskill, where it needs to use intelligent automation, and where it needs to bring in expertise from outside.
The goal for brands is to help consumers manage the ongoing challenges of the pandemic, and then to help them get where they want to be next. There are a few key steps that every CMO can take to get started on this journey:
Lead with insights. Look to create a single, consistent, continually updated view of the consumer based on both internal data and external insights. All strategy and action should flow from this evidential source.
Increase your TQ. To acquire consumer insights and translate them into relevant experiences quickly and at scale, you need to be using technologies like predictive analytics, robotic process automation and the Internet of Things. This is the only way to get the data you need and unlock its true value.
Create space for innovation. The best brands have risen to the top through innovation, experimentation, and a learn fast/fail fast approach. To create this kind of capability, you need a culture that supports taking risks and unleashes your people’s natural creativity.
Think skills, not roles. Successful companies create skills maps of their workforces, enabling them to tap into talent regardless of corporate role and form more innovation-focused teams. These maps will expose skills gaps and will guide leadership in decisions about where to hire, contract or share critical talent with ecosystem partners.
The pandemic has put many consumer brands in a position they didn’t expect or want to be. But those brands now have an opportunity to reset and renew the business with better and more purposeful consumer experiences. The focus for the coming months and years must be on developing those experiences, creating a platform for innovation, and acquiring the skills the business needs for the future. This, ultimately, will be the source of future growth and success in the post-COVID world.