Innovation key for big brands

2 January 2013

NEW YORK: Marketing innovation is serving as a major priority for big brand owners like L'Oréal, Reckitt Benckiser and Diageo as they seek to find new ways to connect with US customers.

L'Oréal USA, the cosmetics giant, has created an incubation fund to identify potential media channels for experimentation, and partners that could help it achieve this goal.

In evidence of such activity in practice, it allied with Placecast, a mobile geo-location service, to send out messages encouraging sampling of its Kiehl's range, a tactic that is now being introduced for other brands.

"Just think about some of the big digital plays - Google, Amazon or Facebook. Every day when you open the paper it seems they are launching some major innovation. A consumer packaged goods company needs to have a similar mindset," Marc Speichert, the chief marketing officer of L'Oréal USA, told The Hub Magazine.

Reckitt Benckiser, the household products group, has adopted this kind of attitude, such as by adding extensions to its Lysol range covering everything from bleach-free cleaner to a “no-touch” hand soap dispenser.

Elsewhere, the fact that online retail is its fastest-growing channel has shown that shopper habits are changing, often in a manner that is too rapid to be tracked by traditional market research alone.

"The digital world forces you to put in place a culture of learning, testing and sharing both the good and the bad," said Laurent Faracci, general manager of Reckitt Benckiser USA.

Campbell's, the food specialist, couples commercial and disruptive innovation, which deliver unique lines, with sustaining and adjacent innovation, which extend brands or make them better, faster, and so on.

"We are addressing the inherent failure rate by spending a lot of time in a consumer-centred, iterative design process that allows us to learn about the entire proposition as early as possible," said Darren Sarrao, the firm's general manager, innovation and business development.

"Thinking of the consumer experience as the outcome is an important shift in marketing innovation. We're no longer just thinking about the product alone as the outcome."

Diageo, the spirits manufacturer, has formed a partnership with the Creative Artists Agency to develop new branded content and a tie-up with Sundance Films to make a documentary for Captain Morgan rum.

"Marketing innovation is about brand storytelling and how you bring that to life. Growth doesn't necessarily require new products; it just requires stronger consumer engagement," said Peter McDonough, Diageo's chief marketing and innovation officer, North America.

Data sourced from The Hub Magazine; additional content by Warc staff