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11/04/2022

Combe International: A Case Study In Immersive Transformation

Danielle Maurici-Arnone

For large companies with vast resources, adopting modern digital technologies and techniques to create immersive consumer experiences is more of a challenge of execution than capability. Smaller CPGs need to more strategically place their technology investment bets, tailor unique approaches, target channels, and build cross-channel consistency to successfully build a consistent and immersive brand experience.

For Danielle Maurici-Arnone, global chief digital and technology officer for Combe International, makers of Just for Men and Vagisil, building an immersive experience all centers on the human connection and their experience with the product. 

"Being immersive, with this idea of everywhere commerce, starts with consumer insight and the human need to address concerns that people don't often really want to talk about, which is what we've become experts in," Maurici-Arnone told Albert Guffanti, CGT VP and group publisher, during a fireside chat at the Consumer Goods Sales & Marketing Summit. "How do you leverage that expertise in a way that drives loyalty, that drives engagement?"

The goal for Maurici-Arnone and Combe is two-fold: to acquire new customers and to continuously engage existing consumers. For Maurici-Arnone, that means forming a multichannel relationship with the consumer "wherever our consumer is – online, in the aisle, at a sporting event, at home streaming – we want to have something everywhere that speaks to that person."

Maurici-Arnone recognized Combe needed to reimagine the brand experience in the post-pandemic market and invest in the right media and technology to propel these goals. Just as important, however, was connecting all the new digital tools with the human element. "We brought the technology, digital data, and marketing people all sitting together, literally sitting together, so that they can solve these problems being super creative and have some of the tough conversations around what's next." 

Albert Guffanti and Danielle Maurici-Arnone

With all the changes in technology and consumer behaviors and expectations in the post-pandemic world, Maurici-Arnone stressed the heightened importance of corporate agility. "Disruption now is relentless," Maurici-Arnone noted. "We've had recessions before. We've had headwinds from the geopolitical perspective before. It's now all happening at warp speed. But we don't allow it to distract us from our goals." 

Even with all the new digital tools, Maurici-Arnone and Combe continue to stress the human element as the primary focus, customer service in particular. She and her colleagues regularly read correspondence about how much their products mean to its customers.

 "You have to have the human relationship with humans," she noted. "You can automate some aspects, chat and things like that. But when you're in a very sensitive part of your life, you need support. It's part of the loyalty. You've got customer service, you got your online challenge, you've got communities that have formed around these very discreet personal care concerns that support one another, and we amplify that. Embracing that aspect of creating communities, that's an extension of this ‘Everywhere Commerce’ idea."

It's the marriage of old-fashioned human contact with the right application of new technologies such as artificial intelligence at the metaverse to expand the immersive experience that intrigues Maurici-Arnone. 

"The metaverse lends itself really well to the types of personal care experiences that we've been talking about today, because people want to be somewhat anonymous and maybe play with different personas when they're extra busy with their grooming," Maurici-Arnone explained. "We just have to determine what's the right timing and different product launches and campaigns that we might want to go into. It's definitely part of this idea that you have to be constantly where they're at."

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