About a year and a half ago, our internal satisfaction survey suggested that our local business, and even more so, our marketing people, were feeling disconnected from consumers – the consumers that we, as per our mission, have committed to protect, to heal and to nurture in our relentless pursue for a healthier, cleaner world. 

We embarked on a journey to change that – to put together a multi-functional, cross functional, cross seniority workstream – to finally be consumer-centric. But how can brands truly get close to their consumers?

Firstly, you need to drive inspiration. It needs to start with a punch in the gut, to really capture the attention of marketers. We brought in a highly talented speaker to deliver an inspiration session, talking to us about how the lifespan of brands has diminished greatly in the last few years, going from decades down to a handful of years. That is why you need to be consumer centric. Yes, to thrive. But firstly, to survive.

Is convincing people of the necessity of being consumer-centric enough for them to actually be consumer-centric? No, there is a HUGE barrier. Time. You can circulate as many pieces of research as you want, deliver as many presentations as you want, distribute as many white papers as you want – marketers do not have time. To combat this, you need to make the insights delivery interesting, intriguing, and attractive. We developed our very own ‘Learning Cafes’ – 25-minute short, punchy, TED Talks-style, from various speakers, on topics that our employees had voted for. Attendance sky-rocketed, and we started to get people to ‘think insights’, and to come up with ideas and questions.

Marketing buy-in is just one piece of the puzzle. To make this work you also need the right mindset. Be lean and agile. For me, it is about getting in the shoes of an entrepreneur: time is running out, your bank account is running dry, and you’re doing what you can with your limited resources to stay afloat. You use whatever tools you have at your disposal to get insights, to pivot and keep going. It is not always possible or practical to undertake massive pieces of research, but with lean and agile technology you get what you need to keep going – especially when navigating uncharted waters.

Purpose may be a buzz word, but consumers expect more from brands than to just sell goods and services; brands can be a force of good. In fact, consumers have greater confidence in the ability of brands to have a positive impact on society and environment, than they do in governments. But how do you ‘do Purpose’ in a way that is authentic to your brand, and meaningful to your consumer? There is no blueprint.

Start with consumer closeness. And you may change the world.

George Papadopoulos, Insight & Analytics Lead, Reckitt Health UK, will be speaking at MAD//Fest London with Amy Cashman, Executive Managing Director, Kantar, at the Kantar Marketplace keynote session on Wednesday 6 July at 11:20 AM on the Hexagon Stage. Click here for the agenda.