Readers' Choice Survey 2017: Digital Marketing

Over the last 10 years, there’s been an explosion of “digital age” brands that identified a need in the marketplace and built a cult following from a low base — and with no retailer customers. Subject matter expert Mike Gorshe, partner at Accenture, explains why technology will undoubtedly help start-up businesses continue to challenge the market and compete head to head with established players.

Digital Marketing Categories

Q: How does technology impact business processes in the area of digital marketing?
GORSHE: While digital technologies are driving change, consumers are also changing. Going forward, being a successful consumer goods company will have less to do with having any actual physical inventory or infrastructure, and more to do with building a community that connects consumers both with the products they want, and each other, through digital and social platforms. Personalization will be the key to success.

Q: How have solution and service providers adapted their offerings to meet new demands and trends?
GORSHE: Over the past decade, we’ve seen a steady stream of disruptive technologies, driven by advances in mobile computing, social media and cloud-based services. Five categories of emerging technologies that have already begun to demonstrate their disruptive powers across the industry are: IoT (Internet of Things), wearables, cognitive computing and machine learning, digital fabrication, and digital payments.

Successful consumer goods companies are also ramping up their data and analytics capabilities to enable personalized experiences and pricing based on loyalty, purchase history and demographics. They are increasingly utilizing predictive analytics to provide personalized service offerings, and they’re leveraging location-based services to embed themselves within consumer lifestyles.

Some brands are embracing digital technologies to help change the consumer experience. For example, smart stores with connected devices and sensors will give brands a better understanding of in-store consumer behavior to help them optimize marketing, merchandising and operations.

Q: Recent research finds that IT budgets have increased slightly for the first time in many years. What are the most strategic technology investments that a consumer goods company can make today in digital marketing?
GORSHE: Consumers are willing to stop being anonymous and provide more personal information. However, many brands still don’t have the capacity to handle, and therefore use, big data to their advantage. Manufacturers rely on valuable information, such as the buying patterns of consumers, for marketing purposes. Some companies have global sales figures but may not track who is actually consuming their products. This is a huge opportunity for consumer goods companies, who are now focusing on their e-commerce function to gather the data they need to really make the most of new technologies.

But the key to success is communication with the consumer on every level. The consumer has to have a satisfying brand experience from the very beginning to the very end. Consumer goods companies need to make critical investments in their social media strategy now, to ensure that it’s not just a sideline activity but a real source of top-line growth potential.

Successful consumer goods companies need to recognize the importance of social buying and create an integrated approach to fully leverage this channel. It’s not about offering shoppers the same buying experience they receive through traditional e-commerce. It’s about redefining the experience for a new medium, clearly owning the consumer experience, and managing social as you would any potentially profitable sales channel, rather than as an add-on. 

Solution providers recognized in this article: 1WorldSync, Adobe Systems, Astute Solutions, Bond Brand Loyalty, Digital River, Gladson, IBM, InRiver, Liaison Technologies, Marketo, Oracle, Planview, Riversand Technologies,, Salsify, SAP Hybris, Shotfarm, Sitecore, Sprout Social, Stibo Systems, Upside Commerce