LOS ANGELES: Marketers must place greater emphasis on the "context" in which their brands are purchased and used rather than solely focusing on the products themselves, according to a leading executive from PepsiCo.

Manoj Fenelon, director of foresight for PepsiCo's Global Beverage Group, discussed this theme at the Future of Consumer Intelligence (FOCI) conference, an event organised by the Institute for International Research.

To illustrate the point about context, he drew on the example of the baby food industry, where the second-largest "brand" used by mothers in volume terms isn't a brand at all: it is, in fact, meals they make themselves.

Said Fenelon: "They're driven by complete lack of trust, brought home by the fact that when you're dealing with babies, the trust issue is especially magnified."

And the notion of trust has an extremely close connection with how people choose what to buy, or what not to buy.

"The real decision-making action is happening in the context of where people actually live," Fenelon continued. (For more, including details of the changing nature of brand "authenticity", read Warc's exclusive report: PepsiCo: Marketing in the context of the consumer.)

"And it goes back to: do you trust the company or not? … If I trust a company, I am not looking at labels. I'm not going into [a] deep assessment of whether this is artificial or natural, because I trust the company."

Similar trends apply to innovation, a process that has long looked at tweaking product features instead of thinking about the context in which goods are bought and utilised, Fenelon told the conference audience.

If marketers do not put more weight on this factor, and actively provide utility for consumers on their personal "journeys", he added, they run the risk of misunderstanding the changing role of brands.

"People are figuring out that there are other ways to aspire that don't involve brands. You can just aspire to be what your cool friend is on Facebook, or on any kind of social media," Fenelon said

Data sourced from Warc