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Concurrent Session II: Connecting the Strategy to the Consumer

Posted By Robert Wray, Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Updated: Thursday, July 21, 2011
Moderators: Helayne Angelus and Michael Friedman (Principals, Kalypso)
Claire Miller (Director of Global Marketing, Kimberly-Clark)
Linda Severin (VP, Corporate Brands, The Kroger Co.)
Olu Fajemirokun (Vice President, Global Shopper, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Group)

Michael Friedman of Kalypso kicked off the session "Connecting the Strategy to the Consumer” at the 2011 NEW Executive Leaders Forum. Pamela Soin and Emily Adams from Kalypso started the breakout with the kid’s game "telephone,” showing just how inaccurate communications can get.

Linda Severin, vice president for corporate brands at  Kroger, gave an overview of the grocery chain’s "customer first” strategy. She noted that customers can’t tell you what your strategy should be and customers don’t always say and do what they say. Loyalty is the key to success--you need nine uncommitted customers to replace one premium customer.

Turning store brands into full-fledged brands is Linda's prime responsibility and one of Kroger's strategies. Linda got a laugh when she said that when she promoted her store’s brands, "My job is doing a better job than you.”

To understand their customer, Kroger created "Maria,” a prototypical customer with the attitudes, behaviors and attributes of many Kroger customers.

Her key takeways included starting with a compelling customer insight, anchoring it in understanding behavior, focusing on loyal customers and selling corporate brands with good value and service.

Olu Fajemirokun (VP Global Shopper, of Johnson & Johnson Consumer Group), warned about the dangers of "groupthink"--or group hallucination, as she put it. "You need to ask, who are the most important shoppers and how do you improve the experience for them?" A shopper approach is predicated on the three stages: gather the data or information, pull out the key shopper insight and then do the targeted action.

A fact is NOT an insight, she said. She recalled the case of Uncle Ben Rice. It was number one, but in decline. People found rice "boring.” When Uncle Ben tried new flavors and products they failed--because the target consumer didn’t even go down the aisle where rice was sold. When the product was moved to convenience section and launched with taste testing, it took off.

Retailers and suppliers must work together. Prime pitfalls? Using facts not insights, not enough data, no alignment between retailer and supplier. What’s needed? Strong brands, shopper insights and retailer knowledge.

Claire Miller (director of Global Marketing, Kimberly-Cark), described the launch of "U" by Kotex.

She said K-C has a product development process that gets started with hundreds of ideas. How do you pick the best? Step 1: Dive deep into the unmet needs of the consumer.

Their Kotex brand was getting stale. "We had to understand the need and the environment," she says. "You can say the word penis on TV but not vagina. We should be able to talk about it! We need to educate and empower woman to talk about it and erase the stigma around periods."

K-C chose an emotional platform to communicate. "We used concept starters, early quantitative measures and qualitative studies like focus groups. 'U' is a big hit, supported by a better product and better communications."

Co-moderator Helayne Angelus of Kalypso summed up the session’s key takeaways, including the importance of consumer/customer insights; the 20/80 rule; insights that are anchored in shopper behavior; strategic alignment; and consumer feedback.

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