NEW JERSEY/SLOUGH: Mars, the confectionery to pet foods business, sets great store by creativity in its marketing but sees science and data as vital to exploiting that to greatest effect, its CMO has said.

Andrew Clarke, who has, since mid-2016, combined the roles of chief marketing officer and chief customer officer at Mars, told CNBC that “70% of a sale, of a purchase, happens because of great creative. So that's really the cornerstone of everything we do.”

But, he added, “on top of that we really see evidence-based [marketing] as the multiplier, the accelerator – really understanding the parameters in which we want to play, the territories we want to play and then really understanding how we get the best possible return on investment for the dollars that we spend”.

That means working out what drives buying behaviour, he explained, and putting science and data behind that to combine creative with research and science “to have our laws of growth, our growth philosophy to work out where we invest our dollars in order to drive growth”.

Alongside that, Clarke regards partnerships and collaborations as essential to Mars’ future.

“Brilliant creative [and] strong agency partnerships – I think that model now continues to evolve as the media landscape fragments,” he said.

And in April last year Mars introduced a program called Launchpad, which is about driving innovation through collaboration with start-ups. “It’s very much designed to solve a number of demand challenges we've got in marketing or in sales – how we bring our brands to life and reach consumers in new and different ways,” said Clarke.

“We really see an opportunity to open up Mars bring more of the outside in.”

It’s a path well-trodden by large FMCG businesses, including Procter & Gamble and Nestlé, whose respective approaches were outlined at last autumn’s Festival of Marketing in London. (For more, read WARC’s report: Why Nestlé, P&G are embracing the idea of open innovation.)

“We had over 250 start-ups engage with our business last year in 2017,” Clarke reported, resulting in 15 pilot projects at least some of which he expected would scale up.

“We're driving through the business in 2018, for example, around voice recognition, gamification, chatbots,” he added, “just to bring digital into our business.”

Sourced from CNBC; additional content by WARC staff