Thursday, March 5, 2015

What do Johnnie Walker, Folgers coffee and Dos Equis know about marketing that you don't?

Author: Rob Malcom, Executive in Residence in the Center for Customer Insight and Marketing Solution
Each of these brands have achieved dramatic and  transformational growth within static or declining categories many years apart, by mastering perhaps the most powerful and under appreciated lever in marketing.  No it is not social media, harnessing "big data", nor digital, nor product innovation - although these tactics and tools were part of the programs. 

Each of these brands - Folger's coffee in the 1980's, Johnnie Walker starting in the late 90's and Dos Equis in the 2000's uncovered what I believe is the most powerful secret in unlocking growth for brands - "THE ONE TRANSFORMATIONAL INSIGHT ".  This is the "singular most powerful discovery about their target consumer's motivation that could be leveraged to unlock growth".  

 For Folgers it was identifying the major generic category motivation - why people drink coffee in the first place - "to get their day off to a brighter start" which led them to abandon 20 years  of "better taste" positioning for the most successful, longest running advertising campaign  - " the Best part of wakin' up is Folger's in your cup' - now in its 31st year on air.

 For Johnnie Walker it was the discovery that the target group of 25-30 upwardly mobile men all over the world were motivated by the same core driving force - the desire to make progress in their lives.  This led to the breakthrough global campaign "Keep Walking", and inspired men all over the world beginning in 1999,  It turned years of decline into rapid growth for the next decade and was awarded "global campaign of the decade" in 2010.

Dos Equis cracked the code and separated itself from the tangled mass of imported beer, by uncovering that it's target - guys 23-28 - were maturing and no longer wanted to be seen as "crazy frat boys".  At this point in their life they wanted to be seen as "more interesting or sophisticated."  Enter the " Most Interesting Man in the World" - the most successful idea in beer in the last decade.

What so many marketers seem to forget in today's world of digitally enabled cool tactics, is the root of understanding all consumer behavior lies first in finding and harnessing the singular most powerful motivation that drives their behavior - their choice.  Until this foundation work is complete - the rest really doesn't matter.

Rob Malcom, Executive in Residence in the Center for Customer Insight and Marketing Solution

A graduate of the University of Southern California with both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in marketing, Malcolm has spent 24 years at Procter & Gamble before becoming president of marketing, sales and innovation for Diageo, the world’s largest premium alcoholic beverages company. He retired from full-time corporate work in 2008, but continues his influence by serving on the boards of the American Marketing Association, Hershey Foods, and others. He also taught marketing at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business from 2009 to 2013. Rob has been an Executive in Residence at the University of Texas McCombs School of Business Since 2013.