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03/22/2021

Consumers Demand Sales & Marketing Remodel Amid Pandemic

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The last year has left many to navigate uncharted territory and make decisions on the fly. Consumer behavior is no different, as increasing demands completely upended sales and marketing strategies.

CGT’s recent webinar, “Consumer Demands Are Rewriting the Sales and Marketing Playbook,” explored the focus on living up to consumer’s demand for transparency; connecting to DTC for tracking and customer interaction; and, most importantly, digitally transforming a brand while creating a deeper level of connection.

Read on for the full transcript and the presentation slides.

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From left: Jebbit CEO and co-founder Tom Coburn; P&G senior director, global brand building innovation Stan Joosten; and CGT senior editor Alarice Rajagopal

Alarice Rajagopal: Good afternoon everyone. Welcome to our webinar, “Consumer Demands Are Rewriting the Sales and Marketing Playbook.” My name is Alarice Rajagopal, the senior editor for CGT and your moderator for today. 

Our latest sales and marketing report, accurately titled “Hurricane Marketing, talks about how consumer behavior has been upended by the pandemic in 2020, leaving CG brands to rewrite the rules of sales marketing on the fly.

To help us discuss this further, I'm delighted to introduce our subject matter experts on this topic. Our first panelist for today will be Stan Joosten, senior director, global brand building innovation for Procter & Gamble. A 30-year veteran at P&G, Stan leads the journey to reinvent brand building for the company. Reporting to the chief brand officer, his team provides an indispensable innovation lab for business leaders and brand entrepreneurs across P&G to see what's ahead, experiment to learn, and scale what works. His current focus areas are business model innovation, reinventing, advertising and media, first party data innovation, and citizenship innovation.

Stan is also the co-founder and producer of the renowned annual P&G Signal Conference and editor-in-chief of the Signal360 Companion publication.

Stan will be joined today by Tom Coburn, CEO and co-founder of Jebbit. Tom was named one of Forbes 30 Under 30, while Jebbit has been named one of the top 25 most promising companies in the world by CNBC. Tom also co-founded two nonprofits, the Enjoy Life Leadership Academy, focusing on youth leadership empowerment, and the Soaring Startup Circle, helping Boston College entrepreneurs launch their companies. Stan and Tom, thank you both for joining us today and I can't wait to dive right in.

Tom Coburn: Excited to be here, thanks.

Stan Joosten: Thanks, Alarice.

Rajagopal: The CGT sales and marketing report has been published now for over a decade, but this year is perhaps the first to be compared to uncharted waters. Some of the most unprecedented situations have emerged — consumers are no longer satisfied with CG brands simply doing good — they must do better. Brands must decide whether to back burner plans or take to the front of the line, the need for stronger retailer relationships surface, and CG brand voices have never been more influential, demanded, or studied. This year the focus kept coming back to the consumer where CGs leaning on data analytics and technology have become the compass in today's storm. Today, we will dive deeper into five of these key findings. 

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Brands must recognize today's consumer demands for transparency, purpose and marketing, and be ready to do the hard work that comes with that. As mentioned earlier, consumers are not only expecting brands to do good, but that they have to do better. Stan, on the heels of covering CES last week, there were plenty of quotes from your chief brand officer, Marc Pritchard, about purpose and doing better. Coming from your experience at P&G, would you agree with the sentiment that CG brands need to step up and live up to this newfound consumer demand with purpose and transparency? Then, in your role on the innovation side, is this even something that you're focused on?

Joosten:
Absolutely. It’s hard to disagree with my boss, actually. One of the things I want to call out, though, is that this is not just for CG brands — this is for business in general. What we've seen over the last decade, maybe even longer, is the role of business to its place in society has grown from an economic force only to much more of a societal force as well. That is reflecting on all of us. It is not because we want to, although there's always some opportunities there, but it's because it's expected from consumers that we do that these days. In my day-to-day work that I do, yes, citizenship innovation is part of it that you highlighted in my short overview, that is very important with what we do in that context.

P&G has declared that we want to be a force for good as well as a force for growth. I mean, we still are, if it's just a force for good, it's a philanthropic institution, right? If it's just a force for growth, it's a very myopic money-oriented setup. So it has to be both. The pandemic has clearly shown us that this is absolutely critical in a time where everything is unstable of how businesses participate in this world. Now, the most important part is exactly what CGT calls out in the report, which is to be ready to do the hard work that comes with that. That is, I think, an under highlighted part
of the calling or following purpose. It is not for purpose sake, it's for what you do with it. What I'm always happy about is to put the actions behind the words so that we can talk about it, then you have the right and the credibility to do that.

Rajagopal: I would agree with that, is there an example you can share around it? 

Joosten: Actually, yes. One of the things that touches on force for good, I think the best expression of putting words behind the actions is actually this commercial, which just started to air around the new year and will play more. I think that it speaks for itself, it's a great expression of how we see purpose.

[Note: The video can be viewed in the on-demand version of the webinar.]

Rajagopal: I've seen that video multiple times, it's such a good, powerful message, it gives me goosebumps. So, thank you for that, Stan. 

Tom, Jebbit speaks often about consumer transparency and trust. From a solution services provider side, how do you help CG brands build both?

Coburn: Yeah, it's an awesome question and definitely something we think about a lot at Jebbit. I think, at the highest level, we're helping brands go out and deliver great experiences to their customers and capture this really valuable explicitly given first party data. We call it declared data. Some people call it zero party data, but getting consumers to answer questions — that's the end output. Everything starts with the question: how do we help our customers — and all the brands like P&G that we work with — to really build trust with their audience and with the consumers they're interacting with every day.

A really tactical and easy example with this is: I think we've all had the experience of landing on a website, maybe it's a new brand we just heard about or maybe it's a brand we've known and loved for years. You get to the site and the first thing that happens is either a box pops up that asks you to take a survey or asks you to put in your email to get 10% off. It’s a very transactional encounter. It's not something, from our belief, where as a brand, you're really leading with thinking about the consumer and wanting to give them an experience that's going to make them trust you and you're going to entice them to actually want to share information with us.

In fact, in many of those examples, brands are actually paying the consumer for their data with a 10% offer or whatever it might be. One of the things we've really tried to pioneer at Jebbit — and we'll show some examples in a minute of how Stan and the P&G team have implemented this — is what if as a simple example, you greet that customer with a quiz on the website that promises to have them answer a few questions about themselves and then matches them to the right product or the right service or the right outcome for them? In that example, what you're saying to the consumer is, "Hey, we recognize that you're really busy. You probably have a million things to do." Maybe you're at home during COVID and you have kids running around getting homeschooled, there’s so many other things in life catching our attention than just, "Hey, how do I want to engage with this brand? What data do I want to share about them?"

What we've been able to prove is when you lead with a better consumer experience and do things that exchange genuine value with a consumer, like save them time or give you a recommendation, they start to form a more genuine and trusting bond and they're willing to be more open and transparent with themselves. Maybe answer a few questions in that quiz of what their favorite activities are, what their interests or motivations are, or whatever it might be. So, that's how we think about trust.

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Rajagopal: Along those lines, I want to get a little more granular. As we learned this past year, one-size-fits-all marketing strategies don't work anymore. Today’s companies must get more granular in their consumer targeting. Forty percent of CPG CMOS said that they're improving data integration to allow for end-to-end customer tracking. Similarly, in our annual Consumer Goods Analytics Study earlier in the year, 50% of CGs cited consumer insights as the top focus area. Stan and Tom, I know that this has been a focus for both of you, I want to bring you both in here to talk a bit about how you're working together to get closer to those consumers.

Joosten: My only experience in consumer research was well over 20 years ago. As many people know, that is one of the gems of P&G, is the real deep consumer understanding that we always create. The amounts of consumer research that goes on at P&G and every effort that we do is literally second to none. But the technology and the approaches have changed. Just like I was personally involved in inventing online research, which was a breakthrough at that time because a lot of it was mail or in-person surveys. But, that was the time that people would readily respond to questionnaires or surveys, which is basically over with, people don't have the time.

They sometimes are wary of the questions being asked, their privacy being invaded. We need to have new ways of finding consumer insights. I think the promise of digital was that we could always get a step closer to consumers, but you always need to do that with their permission. It's like people almost let you into their digital house or their digital life. You can't just assume that that's okay without permission. For that, I want to emphasize the trust that Tom was bringing up is very important. One of the good things with the equity on which our brands is built is trust. Many people grew up with the brands that are still actively used.

Tide has been a household name for decades and for a very long time. As with Crest, as with Gillette, and that comes with a benefit. But you could also lose that really quickly if you take a long step in some direction. You always have to take the high road in engaging consumers. The first thing to really understand is what do the consumers want and what is valuable to them, even to get the consumer insights. And what we are learning — if you can be useful and interesting for consumers, it is a much easier way to get them engaged and actually to have them want to get engaged and raise their hands to hear from the brands that they have used and love.

Coburn: I agree with everything Stan is saying. At Jebbit, we specifically talk about six different types of genuine value, that all of the experiences we run, all the templates in our platform are designed to deliver to the consumer. For us, it's that focus on how do you create that genuine value exchange? To get more granular with it and share some real examples: When we first met Stan and the P&G team, he had shared with us, "Hey, we know we want to continue to get more survey data. We know we want to hear directly from our customers and have them answer questions about themselves." But to his point, they were struggling with the same demands on consumer attention that every other brand is. To his point, gone are the days of a consumer just sitting there at scale and willingly doing surveys all the time.

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One of the first brands we partnered with was Gillette. They had for us, "Hey, here are the five or six most important things we want to learn about every customer." So they already knew that when they came to the table. What we really helped with was how can we put those questions into a genuinely engaging experience consumers are going to love.

At the time with Gillette, they were using Facebook and Instagram to get their survey in front of consumers and they weren't happy with the response rate they were getting. Here, you'll actually see some of the screens on this quiz. What we put together was a, what does your shaving routine say about your quiz?

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So, this one was a personality quiz. With our personality quizzes, the genuine value consumers are getting is teaching them something about themselves, which generally speaking, we're all very focused on ourselves and find that interesting. It's just generally entertaining and useful for the consumer. So, the consumer could swipe up on Instagram or they could click on that Facebook post, and then they'd go through a series of screens.

There's the intro screen that welcomes them into the quiz, then five or six questions in the middle. Questions about your skin type and what your shave routine says about you. Then at the end, you got matched to your personality - the type of shaver that you are, and it linked to different products if you wanted to explore more.

This was a really good example where we took a very traditional, boring survey, where the Gillette team would have been forced to offer some type of sweepstakes or discount in order to get the consumer to engage. We got them engaged in a more genuine and fun way, which not only captures the data at a much higher scale.

In general, we've been averaging between five to 10 times of a higher completion rate with a Jebbit experience than a traditional survey. But the consumer just had a more enjoyable experience. Their brand impression towards Gillette is much more positive than a traditional survey, and the only other example I wanted to share here is an example with Tide, because the Jebbit experience doesn't always have to just replace a survey.

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In this example, what we were replacing was the pop-up box on the site that asks for an email when someone lands on the site. You'll see there's that little unit that pops up that says, "Hey, we want to help you find the best Tide product for your laundry," and here, you'll see the different screens that you went through.

So this is an actual experience that's living as part of the website. It's not something the consumer is getting to through an email or a Facebook post or anything like that. It's something that for all those consumers that have already landed on the Tide site, it's really an assistant that's sitting there to greet them, answer questions, and match them to the right product.

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In this example, the genuine value that the consumer is getting is that it's saving them time and giving them that personalized recommendation that we all care about. In this world we're in now with COVID and retail being so impacted, we're seeing a massive uptick in these types of experiences as many brands are really trying to replace that in-store experience.

When retail is going well, we can have sales associates in the store that literally welcome consumers as they walk in and ask them questions and get to know them, giving them recommendations. It's obviously much harder to do that in a digital world, and so I think this example really explains that well.

Rajagopal: I think this is helpful having some tangible examples to see, because it is a challenge for sure, for a lot of people. Speaking of getting closer to consumers, the pandemic has also served as they shove off the diving board plunge into the DTC pool for some, but sometimes forging those direct relationships with consumers has also helped brands test and better connect with them, as we just heard.

So while executed in different forms, connecting DTC should be top of mind procedures and tracking and analyzing those interactions are also crucial. Stan, if you wouldn't mind, P&G has been operating as a brand that sells both in brick-and-mortar stores and also direct to consumers, what advice would you offer to other CG brands that are making the pivot to selling direct, or what are some of the lessons you've learned about selling direct?

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Joosten: It starts with having a compelling consumer proposition. When people can buy at DTC, Amazon, or at Walmart or Target, they do that for a reason. Right? Understand the reasons why people buy something in a specific spot, then it comes back to the insights.

From our perspective, DTC, especially for new propositions, just allows us to get the insights that we want because there's nothing better - that everybody who has done consumer research knows - the difference between what consumers say and what they do can be quite big. When you see actual sales occur, that is the best signal that something works or doesn't work, and DTC allows us to do that.

The luxury that small companies and small teams have is that they can be so close to their consumers - they can learn a lot. That is what is coming back for us with DTC, that they allow the teams to be really close to consumer understanding. Directly, it'd be the teams that are calling their consumers for the new things that they're trying to sell and talking with them, that's the new consumer research as well.

The rest you can also show up on your websites, like what are the propositions that really work to get people's interests and to have them come back? It's a great learning experience. But the one thing that I want to say is, it's dramatically different from traditional brand advertising. P&G is basically a machine that works like clockwork when it comes to the larger brands that we have and have worked like that very successfully, and it gets fine-tuned here and there.

This basically changes the system overall and it requires a new set of skills, in addition to, I would call fundamental brand building skills. Many of the people that are involved with this are becoming what I would call ambidextrous. They know the brand site, but they also are more technically inclined and gifted. I've been involved in an experience to teach people how to do Facebook ad buying directly, for example.

Normally, we would go through an agency, but the lessons learned from the hands-on experience are tremendous, because you now actually get to see how it works and ask the questions that get you a step further. The other is that brand advertising to create awareness, like TV advertising, is totally different than DTC offers, where you can get the attention, but you're trying to entice people to buy something now. What are the reasons why they would buy now? That requires different thinking and planning as well.

People who are involved with DTC also have, or require, a much closer awareness of the financial proposition overall. The people who do it on our side are learning what it is to run a P&L and what levers to pull. They can recite the cost per acquisition and how that is going, and the lifetime value, which are concepts that are somewhat foreign in traditional brand building.

What can't be underestimated is the fact that once you learn DTC, it also has an impact on the larger things that you're doing, and that's what we are seeing as well. Some techniques that come from DTC are applicable beyond DTC itself into the larger brand building scheme. This is where we get people who are much sharper in their thinking of how to use modern technologies to deal with the traditional brand building. It is quite a shift that is going on and how brand building works and what skills really matter or build it. We made a lot of fundamental steps we'll continue to apply.

Rajagopal: Thank you, Stan. Tom, I'd like to go with the same question for you, since you have a different perspective in working with CG companies, how can brands make the pivot to DTC?

Coburn: I think we have an interesting vantage point from where we're working because we have lots of different types of customers in terms of how long they've been around and the size of their business. We have many customers who started DTC first — they're a brand that's only two or five years old and that's all they do — they're 100% DTC. Then of course, we have brands like P&G that have been around for a long time as category leaders and have a strong retail presence, which are now evolving to DTC. I think you said it well where, and I'm sure Stan would agree with this, COVID just accelerated a lot of the things that they were already doing.

From my vantage point, it's been really impressive to see what P&G is doing to make more direct relationships with customers digitally. While I don't feel like I can give advice on the actual logistics behind shifting to DTC, I can speak to how you try to interact with your customers digitally to really build that DTC presence.

I've already hit on the different types of genuine value, so I won't go into that. But the other thing we talk a lot about is what are the key moments in your digital journey with your customers where you want to make sure to greet them with a great experience? Then, how can you make sure that every time you interact with them, you both give them value and you learn one or two, or three or four things about them?

Those moments are things like the first time a consumer lands on your website. For example, what's the onboarding series of emails that the consumer gets? It's understanding things like what are the five most important things for you to know about every customer so that when you do greet them in those moments, you know the two or three most important things to ask them. We spend a lot of time with our customers asking them questions like, "Hey, if you could go get coffee with every one of your consumers or potential consumers, what would just be the three or five things you'd want to learn about everyone then?"

We see a wide variety of some customers, like I mentioned with the Gillette team, where they know that right out of the gate and they say, "I actually can give you 50 things, but here are the top five or the top 10." And then, the other customers who really haven't thought about this a lot we spend time helping them think through that, so that when they do get a minute or two of a consumer's attention, they can make sure to ask the most important things.

Now, there's a whole other conversation to have that would probably be an entirely separate webinar, which is once you actually engage consumers and gather this data and information, how do you then properly use it to improve future personalization and improve the lifetime value of all your consumers. But thinking about what are those most important data points and what are the right moments in your digital customer journey where you can ask those questions, covers a lot of the strategy.

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Rajagopal: Thank you, moving onto the next topic. Let’s talk about meeting consumers where they are. With even more of this sales cycle happening online, some of the most successful brands need to also pivot and meet consumers where they spend most of their time, such as Facebook, Instagram, and even TikTok.

Tom, you talked about some examples around how Jebbit is working with P&G to get closer to consumers, but I want to go back and see if you have any other examples you can share outside of P&G, working with some of your clients?

Coburn: Sure, I can give a couple examples that are outside of the consumer goods world and then I'll share some that are more relevant here as well. We work with the NFL and they have a brand that people love, but one of the things we found when we started working with them is that the emails they send their fans are often very transactional. "Hey, buy more tickets, buy more merchandise, download this app." So one of the things that they tested was what happens if we send fans a more engagement-focused email, a fun quiz, a trivia experience, something along those lines.

Even though it might sound counterintuitive because you're giving them something to engage with that might distract them as opposed to the action you want them to take, what we actually found is an 8% lift in revenue per fan of the fans that got the fun and engaging experience. Why? Because what happened is they went through a fun trivia or something like that, which grabbed their attention and got them to stop as they were scrolling through their inbox.

Then once we finished engaging them, we gave them the call to action to buy this Jersey, buy more tickets, whatever it might be. The key message here is thinking about how you can look at very transactional messages that you might be bombarding customers with today? I'm not saying you have to shift every one of those. There's a time and a place for a transactional message, but what if you replaced 30% of those with a more engagement-focused lead to start and get that engagement?

We talked about DTC brands. So, Pour Moi is another one of our customers. They're a beauty brand and have a Jebbit quiz right on the homepage to help consumers find the right products for them. Similar to that Tide example mentioned earlier.

Pour Moi is seeing 16% of all their sales come through that quiz. On average, when a consumer goes through that quiz, the average cut size is almost double that if the consumer doesn't go through the quiz. There's been other downstream effects they've shared with us.

For example, they get almost no returns when someone goes through the quiz because the consumer is more likely to actually find the right version of the Pour Moi products that is ideal for them. Those are two different examples of how these interactive experiences can provide a better upfront consumer experience that is ultimately going to lead to more trust with the consumer and more sales.

Rajagopal: Thanks, Tom. Stan, are there any technologies or strategies that P&G is using to meet consumers on social platforms? If so, why is it important to do so?

Joosten: Technology comes and goes over time. What's most important is the strategy, which you already alluded to — you need to go where the consumers are. Preferably, you see the trends of where consumers are going. That is part of what my role is, to look around the world because some trends, as William Gibson always said, "The future's already here. It's just unevenly distributed." Somewhere around the world, there's stuff going on that is going to shape what will be had in most of the areas that we work in. That's the most important part, really understanding what's going on.

I'm lucky to be part of a company that steps on the forefront. I go out and explore things that you would normally think “what does that have to do with brand building innovation?” For example, the future of 5G or VR or whatever, we play out the scenarios of what could happen, where we then need to prepare, and how that would affect us.

The strategic imperative to be where consumers are, we've done that for a long time. I think the other one is the stay abreast of technology and give room and encourage experimentation to learn. This is where my team spends a lot of time, and not just themselves, but also encourages others and makes connections across our business of what we learn, because they're on single horses to bet on with any of the technologies that are coming out. Some of that looks very promising and then disappears every year.

You could look at CES, for example, there's wonderful technology that comes to bear and look at next year or two years out, what wins the prize is it's still there and there's some famous successful flops that come from things like that. That’s true with everything, right? People make assumptions that technology is going to be successful and then consumers decide differently. You need to understand how it works and how people interact with it. It goes back to the handsome keyboard for DTC — having hands-on experience is the most valuable learning tool that we have, instead of speculating about it theoretically.

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Rajagopal: I did want to switch gears again. There's this underlying consumer connection theme, but in talking with digital transformation. Being able to digitally transform as an opportunity post-COVID, brings a level of connection that's just not possible through more traditional media. For example, brands can track how a consumer found them, how they interacted with their brand, which Tom you gave a lot of examples of that — even who they shared it with, which you can't achieve from a traditional billboard or a TV commercial.

In fact, in our report, we quoted Nike’s CEO saying, that it knows that a consumer who connects with them on two or more platforms has a lifetime value that's four times higher than those who don't. Tom, in working with your clients, what are some of the reasons they look to digital technologies or what value do they hope to achieve?

Coburn: I think you just hit on a lot of the main things, which is all of the tracking that is available to you and you're engaging people in more of a one-to-one format digitally. Obviously, whether that's social platforms and figuring out how you're going to engage consumers on a new platform like TikTok, or more traditional things like website or email, or even some of the examples that I provided earlier. That's the inherent benefit of it. Part of it is probably the draw of why you see large companies shifting these technologies, that draw of how much smarter they'll be able to be and how much less waste they'll have with the optimizations they can make.

Another huge part of it too, is the reality that that's the world we're living in today. That's where most consumers are, especially younger consumers. They're on their phones all the time and they're on these social platforms or messaging apps regularly, or maybe email depending on their age and what jobs, school, things like that. You’re not going to win if you're not investing in digital and really thinking about how you interact with consumers everywhere they are and gather the data you need to know about them.

The last trends that we're seeing come up right now that a lot that people are talking about too - regardless of where consumers are digitally — the fact that we are shifting to a world that will be cookie-less, and we're shifting to a world where privacy is going to be at the forefront of how consumers expect to interact with the different brands that they care about. That throws a whole host of other things for brands to think about as they shape their digital strategy. I don't think it impacts the main desire and need to be investing in more digital technologies in general, where your question started from.

Rajagopal: Stan, I wanted to bring you in on this here. I put in my favorite familiar meme about digital transformation and how that's been viral on social media. So, would you agree that the pandemic catapulted to digital and who's leading the charge at P&G?

Joosten: The answer here for us is in-depth, may have been just because we are able to invest in the foresight of what's to come. If we hadn't invested in things like e-commerce over a decade ago, we would have not known what to do with it now. This goes back a long time for us. I think the training wheels have come off for most people now. Unfortunately, some companies still have to put their training wheels on and get started – it’s a little too late for that now. So the world has accelerated by five to 10 years.

Still, even within P&G, the realization with some of the senior executives is that this is not a nice to have, it's essential to have and to transform your business in a digital way, because consumers are demanding. That's how they're seeking things. Who would have thought that e-commerce jumped in one year, what would it have been otherwise in five years? What different forms are coming out. It is a great incentive for innovation. But I will tell you, if this is just the starting point for a company to start a digital transformation, you better get with it really fast. It's now serious.

Rajagopal: Definitely. I would say that is a sentiment going across. In various interviews that we've been doing – it’s very much make or break time.

"If you do have to ladder it up, it has to be on the CEO’s plate first and foremost, but then everybody else has to follow that. It can't just be that there is a flag carrier and then there's miles between the flag carrier and then the troops follow behind that."
Stan Joosten, P&G

Joosten: You also asked who's leading us. Just to build on that, that's becoming much less clear. It starts with executive direction and strategy, but this is a team sport. When I look across P&G, the level of collaboration between functions — think marketing and sales and product supply, and IT — has never been of this level than ever before. Digital is forcing that. We're going more and more towards cross-functional teams that are arranged around people with skills, with very different skills at that. Never mind where their functional home is.

I am finding people in R&D, who also have great technical skills and can do great hands-on keyboard exercises in digital space experiments. We see people in finance and other functions that play a key role step up and lead this. So this truly is a team sport. It is a business imperative, overall. If you do have to ladder it up, it has to be on the CEO’s plate first and foremost, but then everybody else has to follow that. It can't just be that there is a flag carrier and then there's miles between the flag carrier and then the troops follow behind that.

Rajagopal: I want to thank you both for all of your insights. Stan, we heard a few examples earlier of how P&G is working collaboratively with Jebbit. Taking a step back, how did you first find Jebbit, or how did this partnership start?

Joosten: The short answer is that we have a program called Signal Accelerator, which is focused on finding the most promising startups around the world to help us with our more strategic business challenges in brand building. The longer story is that over time, when you're a company that has nine to 100,000 employees, you tend to look inwards because there's just so much work to be done and there's experts in salon.

One of the things I led well over a decade ago was to bring more of the outside in, and we started what's called the Signal Program, which resulted in the conference which was based on the Web 2.0 Conference that my friend and partner, external partner, John Battelle and Tim O'Reilly traded. So we decided to bring the outside in more explicitly.

So you create inspiration, you add some education, and then the thing is what do you do with this? Then, depth is needed along with other pieces of puzzle because inspired people don't necessarily act on it just yet because they aren’t sure how to.

One of the things I noticed is to look around an office when executives found a startup around the social, for example, "Hey, have a look at this, have a look at that." The success rate of the solutions looking for problems is just very, very low. We inverted that and said, "We want to work on the most strategic business challenges that are facing our business leaders today in my scope area and then we will go find solutions." That has evolved into a startup innovation ecosystem that now spans more than brands, that actually goes into product supply and R&D, where we have a network of relations across the globe that ultimately can get us in touch with over half a million startups from anywhere. We believe a problem can come from anywhere and the solution can come from anywhere.

In the case of Jebbit, there was a critical business challenge around, "We need to try deeper engagements with our consumers. We have CRM programs that would do that." However, the response rates were not worth the squeeze. What can we do to be better and to make it more engaging in salon. So we had a Signal Accelerator live lab with our team from Latin America. Again, problems can come from anywhere. At that point in time, they were, Tom and team came to present and put this in front of us. They took on one of the challenges and they said how they want to do it. Our Latin America team signed up and that's where we did the first few experiments with Jebbit, and it was small, but things build.

This is the other part of working with startups, you want to be partners in this. It's not just finding widgets that we can plug in somewhere. We want another party that has some vision that can help us guide our future. That has been another asset that Tom and the team had brought to the table. It wasn't just a current product of how it worked, but also what they see as the future, what's ahead. That very much matched our perspective, how we look at the future of advertising, which I just said, it has to be about making it more useful and interesting for consumers. That was the starting point and that is now two or three years ago — it has been a rapid story.

Rajagopal: Wow, I do hear a lot of success around starting small, piloting smaller or starting with something and then building from there, because I think a lot of times the hardest part is how to start. So that's really interesting.

Joosten: Yes, and that comes back also, because there's also human beings involved and you need to learn with and about each other. It doesn't always work, but sometimes we have relationships with startups that the experiments aren't successful, but there is a continuing connection for future endeavors too.

What we are really looking for always with this, and this is where Jebbit is such a great example, is problem solvers. An understanding of our world, and Jebbit is usually a very, very good start to finding what I always call the beginning of the tape of how we can get started.

Rajagopal: Let’s bring Tom in here. Tom, what is the most popular type of experience that your clients build?

“I would just challenge everyone to really think about every moment where they interact with customers digitally. How can they make sure they're leading with giving value and trying to at a minimum, learn one or two things explicitly from their consumer?”
Tom Coburn, Jebbit

Coburn: Most popular is definitely what we call a product match quiz where people answer questions, they get matched to the right product for them. Number two is the personality quizzes. This is something similar to the July one we showed. Then there's a longer tail of a lot of other types of experiences doing different trivia experiences, interactive articles, there's several more you can do with it, but that quiz to match to the right product is definitely the most popular.

Rajagopal: A quick follow-up: How would you say those begin? Do you look at pain points first and what you're trying to solve, or how did your customers come to you when they first started looking for some kind of experience to build out - where does the idea come from?

Coburn: Well, we know that the long-term goal is always going to be capturing this self-declared first party data and being able to use that data. We always get hyper-focused on the short-term goal that they care about with this first experience. To Stan’s point, when we started with Latin America, the first goal was to prove that these are more engaging than a traditional survey. If we AB test this for Pour Moi, the company I talked about earlier, it was proved to us that more people will actually buy a product on the website when they go through the quiz, versus if the quiz isn't there.

For other people, the goal might be, "I want to capture leads and I need to make sure this interactive Jebbit experience captures leads at a higher rate than just a traditional lead form." We always have to make sure to work with them to hit that short-term KPI, because if we're showing a lift in that, then the marketer is going to be motivated to use more and more experiences. Then, the more Jebbit experiences they utilize, the more data they’re going to capture over time. With that we can help them really achieve the ultimate power of Jebbit, and the ultimate results from the data they're capturing.

Rajagopal: Stan, I've got a couple of questions here for you. The first is around DTC. How are your retail customers reacting to your DTC activity, but I would even throw out there, are they paying attention or reacting to DTC?

Joosten: It has significantly changed, luckily. Okay, one more story that's so old that I can easily share. In the early 2000s, I was involved in some experimentation for having an online purchase panel, which looked like a story. It was clunky technology, as you can imagine, almost 20 years ago.

Somehow, one of our key customers got wind of that. We were doing it, and I remember it was a Friday afternoon and I was forced to unplug the server until we sorted that out. That was a very sharp reaction like you shall not do that, or you put your business in jeopardy. That time has changed. The reason for that is from our perspective, we can just build a much better consumer proposition with a larger chance of success when we have all the details from consumers, when we start things DTC.

It is hard to sell, to start small brands through brick-and-mortar retail, because you have to have some skill behind it and it requires a lot of investment. So, DTC is a big help in just creating better propositions, not just for us, but for our customers so that they are more assured of success when we launch something. It’s not good for P&G or the retailer when the product that we launched with a lot of fanfare just goes south. Unfortunately, that has happened regularly in the past. This just ensures better success and we get ready for better e-commerce implementations by using DTC.

Rajagopal: If you don't mind, Stan, I have one more question for you. Specifically, are you exploring VR or AR options for brand building? And if so, what have you seen as seems to be working or might be successful in the near future?

Joosten: Yes, this is still a very early space. To do VR, for example, everybody can see what it costs for people to actually get that on. My personal perspective on that one is, and it's already several years, the gaming area is a big one where it will come in first. There’s something to be learned in that if you already play gaming as a marketer and that's a great area to explore VR. But it certainly isn't a way yet to get broad awareness or something like that with consumers. Now, we are experimenting at CES, for example, instead of having a standard webpage, we actually created a 3D setting of our life lab in that and this setup was experimental for us. We didn't know how it was going to work, but it was time to do that and show with and have an experiment.

It worked pretty well, we learned a lot, and that is where VR is at. I think that the 3D lab that we had also worked on an Oculus device, for example. I'm not sure if anybody used an Oculus device for it, but we are going to continue experimenting with that and build it out from different angles. Where I think the bigger opportunities lie, given all the effort that's going on, is AR. We are starting to do some experimentation there, but it's still early days. Again, this comes back to what do consumers think is useful for them and what makes it interesting for them? To just put on stickers and other things is one thing, and it still has uses, but if that's the biggest thing we can do with AR, I hope there's more to it. That's an area where I think we are going to see earlier successors or earlier applications that are more broad scale.

That's part of the experimentation, right? There's two ways to approach it. If you want to see what the future looks like, there's no better way than leading it and doing it. If you sit back, you can be too late. Luckily, that is a situation that's on our side. Management has committed this, P&G has always been known for leading what the future could look like, so we're investing in that. Experimentation is key and having an open-mind to find the right partners to do that, that is actually critical.

Rajagopal: Tom, if you don't mind, what's one piece of advice, you would like to leave the audience with? A tip or something they can take back and use, what closing thoughts would you leave for our audience today?

Coburn: I would just challenge everyone to really think about every moment where they interact with customers digitally. How can they make sure they're leading with giving value and trying to at a minimum, learn one or two things explicitly from their consumer? If you consistently do that over and over again, you will be in a really strong place to lead in the digital-first world that we're all completely shifting to.

Rajagopal: Stan, any last thoughts?

Joosten: Well, that's a great starting point and if Tom wouldn't have said that, I would have said that. But starting from the consumer in mind first, then just go do it. It's almost Nike Swoosh here Just do it. Take the steps to do it. These new things can look intimidating, but when you take them step-by-step, and again, you find the right partners to experiment, it really will build your knowledge and confidence to take that step forward. You talked about COVID as the acceleration for that month. Again, it's like the companies that started the journey already are going to be miles ahead of the people who have not made the switch yet.

Rajagopal: Well, I'm afraid that's all the time we have for today. I'd like to thank our speakers, Stan and Tom, thank you both again for giving us your subject matter expertise. I'd also like to thank Jebbit for sponsoring today's webinar. Finally, thank you to our attendees for devoting some of your very valuable time to be with us today. Thank you all again, everyone, and enjoy the rest of your day.