CES 2016: Creating a Purpose-Driven, Customer-Centric Organization

January 12, 2016

On Thursday afternoon at CES 2016, several dozen influential CMOs gathered in the LinkedIn Lounge for “LinkedIn Presents Insights2020,” a wide-ranging session co-hosted by Millward Brown Vermeer that explored how technology has transformed – and is continuing to transform – the marketing world.

These CMOs gathered to garner insights from their counterparts at Dell, Unilever, and EY, who discussed the impact of technology and purpose-driven marketing. The CMOs in attendance also delved into recent research from Millward Brown Vermeer, which identified the key customer-centric characteristics shared by growing companies.

Keith Weed, CMO of Unilever kicked off the “LinkedIn Presents Insights 2020” session by commenting on the pace of technological change in marketing. “I’ve been in marketing for 30 years,” he said. “It’s changed more in the last five or six years than in the previous 25. We all know why: technology.”

Weed also noted that a group that sees technology as second nature, the Millennials, has changed the way companies must brand themselves, both internally and externally. Companies must adopt purpose-driven marketing to inspire their employees and their customers, he said. At Unilever, this philosophy appears in the company’s approach to marketing soap in underprivileged areas of the world. “Millennials want to teach the world to wash their hands, so you don’t get disease,” Weed said. “That’s the purpose of our soap.”

EY, the accounting and consulting firm, has also adopted a purpose-driven approach to marketing, said Woody Driggs, a principal in EY’s Advisory, Performance Improvement Practice. “Purpose-driven doesn’t necessarily mean sustainability,” he said. “Your brand message is about why you do what you do.”

EY, which Driggs said used to be solely about doing “quality work,” has continued to deliver quality but has put that work into a more motivating context. “We are about building a better working world,” he said. “It resonates with our Millennials, and over 70 percent of our workforce is Millennials.”  

Dell also has embraced purpose-driven marketing. Karen Quintos, Dell’s CMO, took over her role about four years ago. She received much advice about what steps to take first. She decided to engage the company’s employees first and give them a purpose beyond simply selling a lot of technological gear. “We’re using our technology to enable human potential,” she said, describing Dell’s mission.

Purpose-driven marketing performs best when that purpose is focused on the customer. Developing a customer-centric organization, however, is easier said than done. At the session, Marc de Swaan Arons, CMO of Millward Brown Vermeer, presented his firm’s study, “Insights2020: Driving Growth Through Customer-Centricity,” which revealed what companies growing faster than their competitors had in common when it came to customer-centricity.

“The companies share 10 basic characteristics,” he said. And purpose-driven marketing is a key characteristic. Of the growth companies in the study, which included more than 10,000 surveys, 80 percent had a “clear brand purpose,” while just 32 percent of the underperforming companies did.

Many growth companies also have in common the way they use LinkedIn. Penry Price, Vice President, Marketing Solutions, LinkedIn, said that overperforming companies are four times as likely than underperformers to use all four aspects of LinkedIn: LinkedIn Talent Solutions (hiring); LinkedIn Marketing Solutions (branding and marketing); LinkedIn Sales Solutions (social selling); and LinkedIn Elevate (employee activation).

For a deep dive into all 10 characteristics shared customer-centric growth companies, visit this Millward Brown Vermeer SlideShare, “Driving Customer-Centric Growth.”

Millward Brown Vermeer's "Driving Customer-Centric Growth" identifies 10 characteristics high growth, customer-centric companies have in common.

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