New technologies attract brand giants

8 January 2013

NEW YORK: Brand owners such as Unilever, L'Oréal and Mondelez International are trying to leverage tools including mobile, cloud computing and next-generation TV sets to build bonds with consumers.

Keith Weed, Unilever's chief marketing and communication officer, told AdAge it was essential to take a proactive, rather than reactive, stance when considering new technology.

"My principle is: I want to get to the future first and welcome consumers as they arrive. That way we don't have to chase them. There is nothing wrong with failing as long as you do it quickly and don't scale the failures," he said.

As an example, Weed suggested cloud computing may make it possible for cars and fridges to be connected so someone driving past a store is alerted to the fact they are short of Hellmann's mayonnaise and a deal is available.

Bonin Bough, vice president, global media and consumer engagement at Mondelez International, the snacks company which split off from Kraft Foods, said mobile will be a key way to attract customers.

"Our goal is to become one of the top mobile marketers in the world," he stated. "By investing 10% of our global marketing budget in mobile, we believe we will open opportunities in the marketplace.

"The vast majority of consumers are absorbed with their phones, looking down, distracted from in-store point-of-sale displays ... We must understand the media solutions that drive impulse purchases and seize the opportunity presented by mobile."

L'Oréal, the cosmetics giant, recently partnered with Microsoft to create a beauty app for the Xbox, and while the company expects personalisation and the rise of digital to influence its future priorities, more traditional channels are not obsolete in its thinking.

Marc Speichert, CMO of L'Oréal USA, said: "Last year there was a lot of talk about next-generation TVs. TV is still the biggest part of our advertising spend, so we're interested to see how TV is evolving and connecting with a second-screen experience."

JPMorgan Chase, the financial services firm, believes technological change has significant implications across its business from mortgages to credit, and has developed one of the most popular banking apps.

"Digital mobile devices will help make the banking utility better for customers. Taking a picture of a check and not going to an ATM is pretty revolutionary. You will see a tenfold increase in utility and customer functionality," said Robert Tas, its managing director, digital marketing.

"Branches are important," he added. "Digitising the branch experience is also important. How can we leverage big data to provide better experiences to our customers?"

Data sourced from AdAge; additional content by Warc staff