PALM DESERT, CA: Mars Petcare, the pet food manufacturer, is constructing more direct connections with consumers as a means of transforming its business and building its brand alike.

Leonid Sudakov, President/Connected Solutions at Mars Petcare, discussed this subject at the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s (IAB) 2018 Annual Leadership Meeting.

“We come from the very definition a direct-economy business. Today, most of our associates are in the areas of business where direct consumer experience defines our success,” he explained. (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: How Mars Petcare learned to think like a direct-brand startup.)

By way of an example, Sudakov reported that a considerable portion of talent within Mars Inc’s petcare division are not focused on traditional products alone. “Two-thirds of our 75,000 associates around the world are in services,” he said.

“We own the four biggest hospital chains [for animals], and that makes us the world’s biggest employer of veterinarians. And in the last few years, we’ve really lived the transformation in the areas of genetics, consumer technology, IoT, and diagnostics.”

Elaborating on this theme, Sudakov suggested that “a massive organisational transformation” has encouraged Mars Petcare’s teams to rethink their approach.

This transition involves a shift in emphasis from thinking about “How can I shove my brand into more baskets?” to “How can I make my customers’ lives a little bit better?”

Sudakov further stressed the importance of “finding the way to rebuild this unmatched customer-obsession muscle, team by team, country by country, business by business.”

From a brand strategy perspective, that approach requires looking at its category through a wider lens, “We fight for better cities for pets. We fight for pets being more welcome in our offices and in our playgrounds, alike,” Sudakov said.

“It’s not a better world for Mars. It’s not a better world for our brands, for our businesses. It is a better world for our customers – pets and pet parents, alike.”

And as the company develops stronger forms of engagement with consumers, so it can foster the type of “relationship with our customers which, we believe, has earned us the right to the first-party data,” Sudakov said.

It’s not just big data that has become a critical brand driver; it’s that smart, first-person data has become what Sudakov called “the new currency” of success. “Everything else is fast becoming the commodity,” he added.

Sourced from WARC