In this livestreamed “Ask the Experts” session, Ajay Ahuja at Kellogg’s and Chris Sloane, Senior Partner at Gain Theory, discussed how marketers can drive present and future data-informed decisions.

Claudia Sestini, Global CMO, opened stating that in today’s world, understanding what happened, why it happened and what will happen are key to informing the actions that drive business growth.

The session kicked off by getting to know Ajay and Chris. Ajay’s CPG career spans over a decade covering analytics to reporting across multiple markets such as China, South Africa and Australia. His remit at Kellogg’s sees him answer key business questions and participate in business future proofing projects.  Chris spoke about his extensive career in marketing effectiveness traversing both the UK and Australia, whilst writing industry-leading thought leadership in WARC, covering topics such as optimal advertising frequency and ROI of integrated marketing campaigns.

In conversation, Ajay and Chris covered the following topics:

  • The Role of Marketing & Media within Overall Sales Drivers
  • Decisions that Drive Value for Consumers
  • Role of Online and Offline Channels and Media to Drive Business KPIs
  • The Switch to Private Label During Recessions
  • Justifying Investment in Brand
  • Selecting Media Platforms: Emotional Decision Making  

Stream the full video here and read the key take outs below.

The Role of Marketing & Media within Overall Sales Drivers

How should marketers think about media and marketing within overall sales drivers? 

Key Takeaways:

  • It’s important to drive awareness and salience while simultaneously creating a long-lasting effect on customers and shoppers.
  • To discover what is most important during the “new normal” period: test, test, test. Find out what is working; ask if the fundamentals still apply to your business and how you can optimize for the future.
  • Immediate steps to consider for optimization, both online and offline, include pausing to understand what is happening with consumers and then exploring e-commerce and new channels.
  • Take a step back to trace the insights from consumers and shoppers, noticing changes in trends.

Decisions that Drive Value for Consumers

Insights from data can assist with decision making to drive KPIs such as sales. How should marketers factor in the value they are delivering to consumers?

Key Takeaways:

  • Some products, such as Kellogg’s products, appeal more to shoppers and consumers post-Covid because they are safe, well-known, and associated with good hygiene.
  • When you have “safe” products with these attributes known to the market, you’re not limited to solely driving sales in the organization.
  • Rethink what value means to consumers and how that translates to both your product offer and how you convey value to consumers.
  • Marketing requires more than driving value for the organization, creating high ROI, long-lasting effects – it’s also about making a difference in your community, inclusive of your corporate social responsibility.

Role of Online and Offline Channels and Media to Drive Business KPIs

Regarding the “new normal” world and purchasing behaviors, what role do online and “offline” channels and media play in driving business KPIs?

Key Takeaways:

  • Marketers see everything as either online or offline, but consumers don’t. Their priorities revolve around convenience and availability, which is most important, making visibility key for retailers and brands.
  • Customers may be more loyal now, shopping in-person and/or online more frequently, often multiple times a week, from the same retailer on both online and offline channels.
  • Marketers need to maximize the opportunity for people to purchase. Simply because more sales have flipped online doesn’t mean that everyone’s media consumption has flipped online.
  • The fundamentals still stand. Ask yourself: What is the path to purchase? How and when can we influence consumers on that journey to buy that product? That matters more than where those sales are actually realized.
  • It’s vital to think about the cost to effectiveness ratio of your advertising investment across your channels.

The Switch to Private Label During Recessions

There’s an assumption, based on historical trends, suggesting that in times of recession people are more likely to switch to private labels. If we assume this is correct, or challenge it, how do you maintain relevance of the brand? 

Key Takeaways:

  • Comparing the 2008 recession to the 2020 recession reveals this is not a “regular” recession. It’s about value, getting the best deals and shopping to different places. Paired with this realization is the focus on hygiene.
  • Consumers want to ensure what they are buying is hygienic and has value. You want to know the products you buy for yourself and your family have product superiority. These factors challenge the hypothesis of an immediate switch to private label.
  • This is being termed the “first natural disease-driven recession of modern times”. Therefore, the consumer mindset will be different, and brands shouldn’t treat this recession like the last one. Comfort is found in brands that we trust and love, and people will return to them.
  • “The lipstick effect: Consumers don’t want to splurge excessive amounts of money on products, but they want to do something indulgent for themselves. Offering a variety of tastes, sizes, and indulgences is a key to defending your brand from switches to private label.

Justifying Investment in Brand

Currently, several organizations are tightly focused on driving short-term returns. How do marketers justify investment in brand, which arguably has a longer-term ROI, to the CFO?

Key Takeaways:

  • You can prove that brand advertising now will pay back greater dividends over the longer term. That won’t have changed in this pandemic recession.
  • Conduct research, gather as much industry and brand-specific information as you can and make that case to the CFO.
  • Gain Theory has several pieces of research including The Long Term Impacts of Advertising, The Business Case for Advertising Now and Marketing Investment in Uncertain Times: Tactics to Ally with Finance.
  • What we’re trying to do is minimize risk and maximize value, in both the short-term and long-term.
  • Cleverly approach difficult conversations with Finance by utilizing learnings from the past and performing certain advanced analytics around the data.

Selecting Media Platforms: Emotional Decision Making

We appear to be entering a world where media platforms are politicized, which may impact media investment decisions. How do you layer this type of “emotional” decision-making into fact-led decision making? 

Key Takeaways:

  • Consider first, “How should brands plan across media channels given those factors?” and second, “Who decides that the platform isn’t suitable for the brand?”
  • It’s not a planner’s decision to choose what media channels should and shouldn’t be part of a mix. They need to optimize reach point, sales, business outcomes, etc.
  • It’s for the C-suite to choose which media platforms and channels are acceptable for the brand or not.


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