Brand owners turn to innovative new technology

26 July 2010

NEW YORK: Major brand owners like Procter & Gamble and Coca-Cola are using cutting-edge technology to manage various aspects of their marketing and innovation.

Procter & Gamble, the FMCG giant, has recently established a system providing a virtual view of how its goods will look on store shelves.

This company achieved this by constructing a room containing life-sized computer screens on every wall, allowing it to perfectly reproduce the nuances of the retail environment.

When holding focus groups using this facility, the maker of Tide and Pampers employs eye-tracking software and hardware to gauge which product and packaging attributes draw the attention of shoppers.

P&G has leveraged this platform to experiment with designs for one of its European detergent offerings, and was able to assess over 100 potential iterations in order to ascertain which proved the most effective.

"If you do virtually in days or hours what used to take weeks, then not only will you go to market faster, but you can afford to do a few more test-and-redesign cycles with more input from consumers and retailers," Flippo Passerini, its global services officer, said.

"That is worth millions in revenue."

According to Passerini, this type of model constitutes a step towards integrating real-time data into the very heart of business strategy.

"The speed of innovation to market is accelerating exponentially," he said. "Consumer electronics, fashion, design – it is true for us as well and it is amazing how consumers respond to innovation."

Elsewhere, Coca-Cola, the soft drinks manufacturer, is also attempting to adopt a pioneering approach to coordinating the informal elements of its online communications.

The organisation has developed a system called the KO Social Hub, which enables any of its 3,500 marketing specialists to adapt multinational programmes to suit local conditions.

"We are creating common solutions," said Michael Donnelly, Coke's group director of worldwide interactive marketing.

"My job isn't to run programmes; my job is to give marketers platforms that make it possible to run thousands of programmes."

This scheme is intended to empower the company to quickly and successfully engage its more than seven million fans on social media sites across the globe.

"If you were to create a Facebook and YouTube page for every country in which you market, then moderate and run those pages, you will be doing a $30m to $40m investment," Donnelly continued.

"Our strategy is to have a single presence, central pages so that no matter where you are in the world, when you pull up YouTube/Coca-Cola, you get a country-local social page."

As previously reported, General Electric has put together a property, resembling that now in use at Coca-Cola, to spread best practice advice across its different marketing functions.

Chubb, the insurance provider, implemented this sort of tactic to stimulate original ideas from within its ranks, and as a result identified 39 simple ways to improve its IT efficiency.

Mobile is also playing a lead role in this kind of process, with Sodexo, the food and facilities management firm, having built a Laundries Dashboard collating all the latest information from this area of its operations.

The exact material available to individual members of staff depends on their level of seniority, and the overall aim is to help its employees keep up-to-date while on the move.

"BlackBerrys are really nice for consolidated, aggregate data trying to answer specific questions," Tony Tocco, Sodexo's cio, said.

"You don't care if you were going 40 miles-per-hour ten minutes ago. You want to know how fast you're going right now."

Data sourced from CIO/MediaPost; additional content by Warc staff