Russell Goldsmith
Russell Goldsmith 7 June 2023

Podcast – Interview with Guest Panel on How Marketing Can Thrive Through Downturns

The fifth show in our Marketing Futures series that we’re producing in partnership with SAP, this episode explores the impact of economic uncertainty on brand strategy and customer engagement.

Episode 5 of the Marketing Future series from the c-suite podcast, produced in partnership with SAP, explored the current trends and issues in retail and marketing.

Host, Graham Barrett was joined by a panel of experts including:

Doug Zarkin, CMO at Pearl Vision,
Connor Wells, Head of Marketing and Brand at Heath Skincare.
Kyle Schroeder, VP of Global Partnerships at Movable Ink.

One of the key themes discussed was the impact of economic uncertainty on brand strategy and customer engagement.

The panellists discussed how marketers can continue to be effective while managing small budgets. Kyle highlighted the importance of personalisation in tailoring messages and customising the way brands speak to their audience. He suggested that the goal for most brands is to provide stability and certainty in the engagement with the brand to build trust and loyalty, which helps establish a lifelong customer relationship.

Doug emphasised the need to ‘think human’ and remember that consumers are not just data points on a chart but human beings. He stressed the importance of authenticity and reminded marketers not to alienate their consumers by pushing deals and discounts that may enable them to make sales numbers for today but inevitably prolong the issue at hand.

Instead, he suggested pausing and being a little smarter and more authentic to remind consumers of the need and prompt them to take the desired action.

Consumers are buying much more emotionally now; Connor emphasised the importance of agility and the decentralisation of data. He suggested that smaller brands have an advantage in that they don’t necessarily have to operate like a big giant and can focus on building communities.

Pearle Vision launched a US Hispanic effort to address the fact that 40% of US Hispanic children have an undiagnosed vision issue, compared to 25% of the general market. This statistic is concerning as this is due to the Hispanic community being undiagnosed due to their genetic predisposition.

Despite the high demand for eyewear-related items among Spanish-speaking consumers, there was no brand that consistently rose to the top. Pearle Vision decided to embrace the US Hispanic community in a full-funnel effort, including providing locations with bilingual associates.

This is important because it allows the older Hispanic population to communicate comfortably in their preferred language. Pearle Vision is not only recognising their needs, but also ensuring that when they are ready to take action, they can do so in their language of choice.

Personalisation is key in marketing, and Movable Ink is a software company providing technology that allows marketers to personalise content. The company believes in a human-centric approach that brings empathy and understanding of customers into marketing programs.

Scaling personalisation can be challenging, but it is essential to build brand trust and deliver consistent experiences. Many brands are trying to unlock the value from their data to personalise their content and create a personal connection with individual customers.

Building the basics is crucial, and community is a fundamental basic. At L’Oréal, a purpose-driven brand campaign was built around female empowerment, which was authentic.

However, some brands do not execute this authentically. Building daily protection for the urban man is important at Heath, and they focus on reframing skincare as a wellness moment. Their marketing plan includes advocacy and CSR initiatives.

At Pearle Vision, their customer relationship management platform is critical to maintaining a strong connection with their customers. Their ambassador strategy is about using their target audience as an ambassador to embrace Pearle Vision as a one-stop solution for their entire family’s eyewear and eye care needs.

Ambassadorship and the use of influencers creates great brand advocacy, Connor is a believer that this allows brands to reach consumers directly, within their safe space, and at a lower cost than TV ads. Doug disagreed with this point and believed the influencer marketplace will be reset in 2023 due to massive regulation.

He cited the case of Kim Kardashian, who was fined $1.6 million for promoting cryptocurrency without disclosing that she was an investor. However, Connor argues that there is a big difference between influencers and an advocacy plan.

The way he adopts his advocacy plan is purely organic and authentic, not throwing tens of thousands of pounds to these influencers. Instead, he uses athletes and local barbers with great customers and a successful following to promote their brand.

They discussed the importance of content in marketing, and how people experience content, not just data. Kyle talked about his e-book and how Movable Ink empowers brands to do more than just personalise.

Brands need to serve up information that is intuitive and not just cookie-cutter. Doug talked about the importance of small moments and how trust is not earned through grand gestures but through small, meaningful touchpoints in the experience between the product and the consumer.

In conclusion, the panellists highlighted the importance of personalisation, authenticity, and agility in marketing during tough economic times. They reminded marketers to think human and build trust and loyalty with their customers by providing stability and certainty in the engagement with the brand. By doing so, marketers can establish lifelong customer relationships and build communities around their brand.

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