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6 Factors Influencing Customer Behaviors in 2021 (With Original Research)

With fast-evolving customer experiences and technologies rolling into the market what feels like everyday, only one thing seems to consistently remain the same: Consumer behaviors, expectations, and needs never stop changing.

 

Cultural, social, personal and psychological forces influence what consumers do and why. And as consumer behaviors change, marketing strategies must change, as well. But for brands and businesses to craft the customer experience that can lead them through the next frontier of business, they must first understand what customers are truly prioritizing.

Better marketing comes from better understanding consumers.

According to our recent research report, here are the top six factors that are changing the customer experience design game today:

1. Convenience

Convenience is consistently the most significant way consumers are evaluating companies post-pandemic. It turns out that consumers like some of the adjustments they had to make as a result of the pandemic. For example, 31% of those surveyed said they will still use grocery delivery services even after restrictions are lifted in their area. Consumers want purchases that are easy to make. That doesn’t stop at simply digitizing offerings. It also means upgrading customer service experiences so consumers can get help when and where they want it.

 

Keep in mind that consumers aren’t necessarily looking for virtual-only experiences. They are keen to combine the best of digital and personal touchpoints to do whatever is easiest. That’s why “buy online, pick up in store” (BOPIS) has become popular. A total of 68% of our survey respondents indicated they have tried this approach, two thirds say it made them feel somewhat or more positive about the company that provided it. That’s because convenience rules the day. Companies that can blend the best of their offerings to create the most streamlined experience are winning post-pandemic.

2. Safety and Well-Being

Most age groups we surveyed indicated that safety and well-being are a major factor in their decision-making process. Excluding Gen Z, every other age group voted safety as their second biggest concern. Safety and security— both physical health and data— must become the standard operating procedure for businesses. Cleanliness and a focus on well-being are no longer extra steps that businesses are taking during “unprecedented times” but the expectations that are leading the way in every customer experience.

3. Immersive in-person experiences

The decline of physical retail shopping has accelerated in the pandemic, but marketers have found a way to bring customers in-store to develop loyalty: experiences. The concept of retailtainment has been gaining traction, with 52% of millennials saying they spend on experience-related purchases. Experiential marketing is more important than ever, especially as customers emerge from the pandemic and are hungry to make up for missed experiences.

 

In the digital-first world post-COVID, a lot of general shopping will be ordered via recurring subscriptions or deliveries. Capitalizing on the appetite for experiences, businesses can entice customers to come in-store with valuable experiences that educate and connect. As a bonus, a truly immerse experience can help earn coveted word-of-mouth and organic social presence.

The pandemic has highlighted social inequalities in daily life and consumers are choosing to vote with their pocketbooks to create change.

4. Social Responsibility

Customers are increasingly loyal to brands with a conscience, especially as the global pandemic has hindered the well-being of so many people. It’s clear that customers expect brands to lead with kindness and empathy, even at times using their resources to fill gaps left by local governments or to support social causes.

 

In a survey that assessed consumer perceptions of corporate social responsibility, three out of four respondents said that the way a company looks after their customers and employees during COVID will impact their loyalty to the company post-pandemic. The pandemic has highlighted social inequalities in daily life and consumers are choosing to vote with their pocketbooks to create change.

5. True and Ongoing Value

It’s clear that consumers are even more sensitive to value realization now than before the pandemic (learn about value realization here). At some point during your customer’s journey there will come a time when the value of your product or service is fully realized. This can set the tone of the future of your customer’s experience with you. Not only do they need to see value early, but it needs to be consistent throughout their lifecycle in order to increase your customer lifetime value.

 

Also read: Developing Nurture Strategies That Decrease Time to Value

 

Wary of a possible recession in the wake of the pandemic, in addition to increased inflation, consumers are prioritizing the value you bring before they’ll part with their hard-earned cash. Your products and services need to be well-priced and solve a real problem. Premium add-ons are less of a priority for consumers, unless they target other specific desires such as social responsibility or safety.

Ratings and reviews help build this confidence in a way that feels legitimate to wary consumers.

6. Trust and confidence

Third-party and peer recommendations are deeply integrated into the buying process, especially post-pandemic. New data rates rankings and reviews as the number one most important factor impacting purchase decisions, above price and even free shipping. Nearly one in two customers read between one to 10 reviews before making a purchase decision, and 68% of customers say they prefer products with at least 26 reviews.

 

It’s clear the pandemic has caused consumers to lose some faith in traditional institutions and they are consistently relying on communities of like minded people to act as thought leaders. Ratings and reviews help build this confidence in a way that feels legitimate to wary consumers.

Bottom Line

Synthesizing all of these consumer changes to carve a future path requires companies to take a strong look at their to take a step back and understand the problem they are trying to solve, the “why” behind reimagining their products and customer experience. This can help realign with what consumers are expecting today. We walked through this same process with a leading travel brand, taking the time to define what it means for them to be in the travel business in the first place. Using those answers, we were able to define success. Then, we looked at what changes would be in scope for the brand. You might not be able to accomplish everything you dream of or know customers want, but defining changes that are within your ability is a good first step.

 

Implementing changes is the purpose for all of this research and brainstorming, which is why the last step of the process is understanding what partners will be necessary to help innovate. Iterating on your products, services, and overall customer experience isn’t easy and making cross-functional changes can be challenging, but given the massive shifts in consumer preferences post-pandemic, it is more important than ever to understand these factors and adjust to ensure value realization.

Need help understanding your current and future consumer’s needs? Contact us today

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Customer Engagement Uncategorized

9 Metrics That Help Measure Customer Engagement

Gaining new customers is only half the battle when it comes to sustaining a healthy business — keeping customers engaged and loyal to your company long-term is just as important. Sometimes, that’s easier said than done, especially considering the changing nature of customer preferences.

 

Most companies are challenged with constantly iterating their customer engagement strategies. Oftentimes larger enterprise companies bear more of that brunt in order to maintain market share as more agile upstarts join the scene.

 

Also read: Data Driven Insights Into the Evolving Customer Experience 

 

Case and point: A large entertainment and communications firm – despite having experience that predates the internet – came to us with plummeting retention rates. Identifying the cause of their customer churn was essential to strategizing and implementing an improved experience for the future. By conducting research to understand the end-to-end customer journey, we were able to uncover and map out internal and external stakeholder perspectives at each stage. Using that information, we identified which stages in the journey had the greatest impact on customer loyalty. Then we were able to create a prioritized list of suggested improvements to enhance the customer experience and drive a greater bond between the business and their audience.

 

It’s this kind of work that can make the world of difference when it comes to increasing customer engagement.

 

Reducing friction and inspiring trust are the cornerstones of customer engagement today. A recent Salesforce study found that 95% of consumers said trust makes them more likely to remain loyal while 80% said the customer experience is just as important as the product or service.

 

Reviewing the journeys your customers take helps to identify ways to increase convenience and drive engagement, which is essential for success. Here are some top methods to measure customer engagement.

Reducing friction and inspiring trust are the cornerstones of customer engagement today.

Top Customer Engagement Metrics

There are a variety of metrics you can use to create a full picture of your customer experience and increase customer engagement. Here are some of the most frequently used methods::

1. Net Promoter Score (NPS)

NPS is the leading metric for measuring customer satisfaction and loyalty. This is accomplished by asking customers one, simple question to rate the likelihood that they would recommend a company, product or service to a friend or colleague. The rating is on a scale of 0 -10, with zero being “not at all likely” and 10 being “extremely likely.”

 

How to calculate: Respondents are divided into three groups based on their score.

 

  • Promoters: (rated 9-10) are loyal customers who will also refer others to your company.
  • Passives: (rated 7-8) are satisfied, but not enthusiastic.
  • Detractors: (rated 0-6) are unhappy customers and could potentially damage your brand by spreading negative reviews.

To calculate your NPS score, subtract the percent of Detractors from the percent of Promoters. Here’s what the formula looks like: % Promoters – % Detractors = NPS. Your NPS can range anywhere from -100 to 100 depending on your ratio of promoters to detractors.

% Promoters - % Detractors = NPS

How it infers customer engagement: Your NPS score is a good measure of your customers’ overall perception of your brand. Customers who fit the Detractor category are unhappy, these are the customers most likely to speak poorly about your brand to others or leave negative reviews. Customers who fit the profile of Passives are not excited about your business and are unlikely to be loyal if a competitor comes along with a sweeter offer. Customers who are considered Promoters are not only loyal, but will act as ambassadors for your company. It’s best to compare your NPS to others in your industry and also to your past scores to monitor any changes in your customers’ perceptions.

 

Also read: The What, Why, & How Of Customer Behavior Analysis

 

Best for: This classic customer engagement tool is best for gaining a high-level understanding of customer experience and how loyal your customers are.

2. Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)

CSAT is short for Customer Satisfaction Score. It is a popular metric to gauge customer satisfaction levels for a specific product/service or action you took rather than an ongoing customer relationship.. A CSAT score is expressed as a percentage (100% to 0%). Using the results from a customer surveys that ask respondents to “Rate their overall satisfaction with the goods/services they received. Respondents use the following 1-5 scale:

 

1 = Very Dissatisfied (or Very Bad)

2 = Somewhat dissatisfied (Poor)

3 = Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied (Neutral)

4 = Somewhat satisfied (Good)

5 = Very Satisfied (Excellent)

 

How to calculate: To understand your CSAT, you’ll want to divide the number of satisfied customers (represented by those who responded with a 4 or 5 ) by the total number of customers.

 

Use this formula to calculate: Number of satisfied customers (4 and 5) / Number of survey responses) x 100 = % of satisfied customers

Number of satisfied customers (4 and 5) / Number of survey responses) x 100 = % of satisfied customers

How it infers customer engagement: Your CSAT score is helpful to measure customer satisfaction after an experience or touchpoint with your business. It’s not typically used to represent customer engagement over time, since it’s a snapshot of how each individual customer was feeling during the exact circumstances of the survey.

 

Best for: CSATs are typically easier to collect than other data points because you’re not asking a lot of your customers. CSATs are also easily understood across many channels of your organization. This makes them ideal for creating company-wide benchmarks that you can update consistently.

3. Customer Lifetime Value

Your customer lifetime value indicates how much your company can expect to earn across an entire relationship with a customer from start to finish. Segmenting your customers by lifetime value can help your company get strategic about the most important groups to engage for long term revenue growth.

 

How to calculate: Before you can calculate the customer lifetime value, you need to know the average customer value. You do this by determining the average purchase value and then multiplying that by the average number of purchases. That first formula looks like this: Average Purchase X Average Number of Purchase = Customer Value.

Average Purchase X Average Number of Purchase = Customer Value

Then, put that number into the following formula: Customer Lifetime Value = Customer Value X Average Customer Lifespan.

Customer Value X Average Customer Lifespan = Lifetime Value

How it infers customer engagement: It goes without saying that the happier your customers are with your product or service, the more likely they are to continue purchasing renewals or upgrades. Focusing on improving your customer lifetime value typically means you’ll surround customers with support and incentives, which can also lead to higher customer engagement scores. Best for: Compare your customer lifetime value to the cost of acquiring new customers so you can understand if your value realization is strong enough to offset the marketing or sales costs associated with generating demand.

4. User Activity

User activity measures how many unique customers are interacting with your product or service in a specific time frame — typically daily or monthly. This is an ideal customer engagement metric for SaaS companies or apps.

 

How to calculate: Calculating daily user activity hinges on accurately defining what you’ll consider a user and an activity. To get a strong sense of how users are interacting on your platform, you might want to count actions such as pulling reports or collaborating with team members instead of merely sign ons or app opens.

 

How it infers customer engagement: By measuring activities that would only happen if the user was engaged — like creating reports, for example — you can begin to understand how often your users are incorporating your features into their lives. If you notice some features are under-utilized, this could be a warning sign that your customers aren’t fully engaging with the potential of your offerings.

 

Best for: This metric is best for understanding what features of your product are most engaging for customers, so you can continue to iterate on these and improve your value realization opportunities.

 

Also read: How to Holistically Map the Customer Experience

5. Visit Frequency

Measuring the visit frequency shows you how often the same customer returns to your site or store location. This helps you to understand how familiar your customers are with your brand and the extent to which they are actively seeking your company.

 

How to calculate: Using Google Analytics, you can pull a count-of-session report to understand visit frequency to your website. Measuring visit frequency for brick-and-mortar locations has historically been more difficult, but new technology, such as Ripple Metrics, can actually measure return frequency in addition to other actions your customers take in store.

 

How it infers customer engagement: If you have many of the same customers returning over time, this shows a higher level of engagement. However, if you have customers visiting your site or location once and not returning, this shows you have more work to do in order to foster customer loyalty.

 

Best for: Visit frequency can be seasonal. For example, if you work at an oil change garage, you might only expect customers to return once every six months. That’s why measuring visit frequency is a good metric for companies that understand what the patterns of a happy customer look like. Gain clarity on the big picture of your customer journey so your visit frequency inferences will be valuable.

 

6. Screentime

Measuring how long a customer spends on your site can tell you how valuable your content is and the extent to which you are helping to make the lives of your customers easier. If your customers spend a long time reading an article or watching a video, congratulations, that means you gave them something to stick around for.

 

How to calculate: Using your website analysis tools, you can pull a report to specify the total time on site or get specific to understand how long customers are spending on each page.

 

How it infers customer engagement: If you notice customers are routinely spending a few seconds on each page, that could be a sign that your website content is not engaging. Typically the first action users take when they realize a webpage doesn’t have the information they need is to close it and move on to the next one. This metric can help you determine what content is hitting home with your customers and what needs more work.

 

Best for: This metric is essential if you rely on content marketing to drive sales or improve the customer experience.

Understanding your customer engagement isn’t always a matter of gathering the most information, but of understanding which metrics to focus on.

7. Pages per Session

Pages per session shows you the average number of pages a visitor to your website reads before they leave your website. Similar to screentime, this metric can show you the extent to which visitors are enjoying your website and gaining value from it.

 

How to calculate: You can determine the pages per session by dividing the total page views by the total amount of sessions for any given time period. If you use Google Analytics, this number should automatically be pulled for you through the program’s standard reporting in the acquisition overview section. To get more detailed, remember to segment by source. You might find that visitors coming from one channel are more heavily engaged, which could influence how you spend advertising dollars.

 

How it infers customer engagement: If you have a high number of pages per session it’s likely visitors to your site are finding a lot of useful information and that you are providing a quality user experience. If you find this metric drops over time, it could signal that you need to revisit your content or maintain your website.

 

Best for: Use this metric to understand how well your website is performing when it comes to serving your customers.

 

8. Churn Rate

Your churn rate measures the number of customers who are concluding their relationship with your business over a set period of time. For example, if you are a service with subscribers your monthly churn rate would show the percentage of users who have cancelled their subscription each month.

 

How to calculate: Calculating your churn rate is simple, just divide the number of customers who have stopped doing business with you by the total number of customers. For example, if you have 20,000 subscribers and 1,000 cancelled last month, you would have a churn rate of 5% for the month.

 

How it infers customer engagement: If you have a high churn rate you can infer that somewhere along the line your customers are becoming disappointed. You’ll need to do some work to understand where in the journey they are seeing less value so you can improve these pain points and extend the customer lifespan.

 

Best for: This is a good metric for softwares or subscription services that rely on monthly recurring revenue.

9. Social Media Engagement

Your social media engagement can show you how interested your customers are in hearing from you and sharing about the work you do. A high social media engagement rate doesn’t always equate to increased sales, but it can definitely help guide your team to know if you’re on the right track in developing rapport, loyalty and strong word-of-mouth.

 

How to calculate: To get a high-level view of your social media engagement, measure your average engagement rate by adding the total number of engagements on a given post (this includes likes, comments and shares) by your total number of followers.

 

How it infers customer engagement: If your social media engagement numbers are low, this could be a sign that you need to do more work providing daily value to your current customers to turn them into brand evangelists. Not all companies rely on social media though, so if your social engagement numbers are low but you have another channel that does well, such as a newsletter, you might want to weigh both sets of metrics against each other before taking action.

 

Best for: Social media engagement can help companies understand how well they are doing when it comes to creating brand awareness and enthusiasm.

Bottom Line

Understanding your customer engagement isn’t always a matter of gathering the most information, but of understanding which metrics to focus on. Every brand should choose a handful of metrics that matter most to their business operations. Depending on your goals, there are only a few metrics that should be tracked regularly to gauge engagement, loyalty, value realization and growth. For the client we mentioned at the start of this article, we were trying to solve for high customer churn. We decided to narrow available data down so we were only focusing on mapping customer satisfaction. We felt this metric could most accurately predict churn. By understanding where in the journey customers were least satisfied, we were able to identify where drop off occurred.

Curious how the evolving customer experience is changing customer sentiment? Check out our recent research report, or contact us today.

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Innovators Series Uncategorized

Innovators Q&A: How Johnson & Johnson Is Pairing Data With Creativity to Connect With Customers Like Never Before

A big brand name is no longer a differentiator. In fact, according to the Customers 2020 study, neither is price or product. While those factors may naturally drive more awareness or familiarity, they no longer drive trust and credibility or dependably convert consumers to buyers and advocates. Actually, if you think of it, big legacy brands might have even larger hurdles to overcome in achieving the cross-functional alignment and agreeance it takes to transform customer journeys and craft personalized, valuable experiences at every touchpoint.

 

There’s really only one way huge companies – like Johnson & Johnson – can be innovative in a fast-changing marketplace. They must learn how to pair data and analytics with design and creativity to cultivate authentic strategies that place the humans they serve at their core. Even if that means spending money to create experiences that have no guaranteed ROI.

 

To learn more about how Johnson & Johnson is thinking about and approaching customer experience, we talked to Matthew Fantazier, Senior Brand Manager for Johnson & Johnson’s Baby businesses, including Aveeno Baby and Desitin. As you’ll learn during the conversation, hosted by our very own Founder and CEO Jeffrey Pruitt, Matthew is passionate about bringing together insights, data, and technology to connect authentically with today’s consumers.

 

Prior to his current role, Matthew led digital strategy and media at J&J’s OTC business for Digestive Health, Cough Cold Flu and Eye Care. He has also worked on brands such as ZYRTEC®, SUDAFED®, and BENGAY®. Through his experiences and first-hand interactions with evolving customer experiences, Matthew shares his unique insights and perspective as it pertains to the future of CX.

Q&A with Johnson & Johnson Senior Brand Manager Matt Fantazier

 

Jeff Pruitt: We’d love to hear a little bit about both your personal and professional story. I saw that you interned at Deloitte at the beginning of your career and then took a job as an analyst. So, you’ve always been very tied to brand strategy.

 

Matt Frantazier: I’ve been at J&J (Johnson & Johnson) for about 14 and a half years now, but I did start out as an accountant way back when. I studied accounting, got my CPA, and spent about seven years in finance at J&J, actually. I made the switch to marketing about eight years ago. And that’s definitely been a hallmark of my experience – combining the data and analytics side with creativity. That’s the exciting thing about what I get to do for work now: Combining those two things – data/analytics and creativity – to connect with consumers.

 

JP: That’s great. I actually am, too, a CPA and studied accounting. I don’t know why I actually got into it, but I love [working] more on the marketing and branding side. We’ll get into how data and brand connect, but first, how do you believe marketing strategies have been forced to change for big legacy brands like Johnson & Johnson during COVID?

 

MF: Well, you know, I think the evolution really changed before COVID and… this has been talked about a lot, but the last 10 months or so just accelerated a lot of things that had been advancing maybe at a medium [or] slow pace, but the need to change has been right in our faces. I think one of the biggest evolutions is brands and companies thinking about moving away from advertising and retail and [instead, thinking about] enabling access. How do we enable access to consumers and how do we foster discovery versus just advertising? I think that’s one of the biggest changes that I’ve seen in what we’re thinking about [at Johnson & Johnson]. COVID forced consumers to adopt all sorts of new habits and behaviors. More research is happening online [and on] social media. Consumers are becoming accustomed to different shopping experiences and we have to be there.

"Brands are being pushed to change as fast as the world around them is changing, and we can't wait for perfection."

There’s just countless specific things that have changed from a commerce perspective: E-commerce media habits, [and] consumer demands for brands to stand for something. There’s so much that has changed in the last 10 months. I think brands are just being pushed to change as fast as the world around them is changing. And we can’t wait for perfection. I think that’s the biggest challenge right now: So much has changed so fast that we have to try. You know, we’re in uncomfortable territory of not knowing – doing new things, operating differently – but we have to try to learn and adapt.

 

JP: Yeah. So, when you think about that and you’re pushing out different work streams or different approaches to drive an experience through your brand with your customer, how are you looking at that in conjunction with data, analytics, and creativity and design?

 

MF: The intersection of data and creativity – I think it’s just so much more prominent now. And it’s one of the bigger challenges we’re facing right now: Unlocking this data. There’s so much, and as more commerce and media consumption and interaction – on websites or wherever – happens online, there’s a data trail there. But, “What do we do with it?” is really the next big question. You can have all the data in the world, but if you don’t know what it means, – if you don’t understand what to do differently, or if it’s good or it’s bad – it’s sort of meaningless. So, you know, we seemingly know more about consumers as digital media matures and data becomes more robust, but you have to have that feedback loop to consistently learn and adapt…

 

One of the challenges there is that it can’t [just] be a machine.

 

At the end of the day, we’re talking to humans… They may be online and buying things online, but you still have to make that personal connection. I think that’s where the tension point really lies. Algorithms don’t make purchases. People do. So, the data can be incredibly powerful in understanding what’s working, what’s resonating, but you still need to grab attention and make a human connection there. The data is allowing us to try more things and push further, but I think it can be used as an enabler because you can quickly figure out [if] something is working or not, versus feeling trapped in [the mindset of] “We’re going to do what we know because it’s safe.” We can do unsafe things because of data – it’s unsafe from a performance standpoint – but it’s making that connection and creating that loop. That is really the biggest challenge, right now.

Also read: How We Created a Contemporary Experience For a Strong, Timeless Brand

 

JP: So, getting more specific, what kind of data do you look at? And how does that influence, for example, design – how you test design and get it out into the real world?

 

MF: Yeah, I mean, I think one of the things is that it’s not just one data source. It’s important to not get too myopic and focus on [something like] short term ROI, is a good example. It’s paying the bills. It’s keeping the lights on. That’s important, without a doubt, short-term ROI matters. I would lose my job if I ignored it. But it’s one data point. So, brand awareness or different equity metrics – those are important for long term health assessments to understand [if] what you’re doing [is] driving relevance with your consumer. Is it something that they like? Do people agree with what [you] stand for? You need both. You need to know: Is what you’re doing selling products? Is what you’re doing getting people to respond positively? It’s that mix. You need to understand all of it, which can be hard. It’s easy to anchor on the one good metric and declare a success, but we do need to take a broad approach to it.

 

JP: All too often, we’ll focus as marketers on the bottom of the funnel because it’s the most trackable, but at the same time, as you look at the upper- or mid-funnel, you are now able to track some brand awareness. And it’s important to make sure that you do measure it, but it shouldn’t get the same level of ROI expectation that you do at the bottom of the funnel.

 

MF: Yeah, it’s a different job to be done. You need all of it. I think it’s easy to [say], “My job is to sell product,” but really, it’s to create awareness, drive consideration, and sell product. You need to do all [of] that stuff.

"You can have all the data in the world, but if you don't know what it means, – if you don't understand what to do differently, or if it’s good or it’s bad – it's sort of meaningless."

JP: So, taking this to the experience you’re driving for your customer: How does Johnson & Johnson measure customer experience, both digitally and in store? What are the key components of understanding that experience and ensuring that it’s seamless – that it’s one of value – and that you’re educating the customer correctly?

 

MF: It’s really taking a look at the entire journey. There are so many touch points [within] consumer journeys today. And, I think when you look at it, the consumer journey being very non-linear is a reality that we’re dealing with.

 

So, customer experience [or] consumer experience takes a lot of shapes and forms… I’m thinking about what they need. What are the consumer’s current needs and expectations? You know, in my business, I talk to new parents a lot and they’re very information hungry. So, providing them with knowledge, information, education – about ingredients, or what our products do; how to give your child their first bath, [for example] – that’s relevant. They need that, that’s a lower purchasing barrier. But it may be tips, if it’s a more complex product. If you’re in a category that [doesn’t naturally provide an] intuitive process, or it takes some skill to use your product, you’re going to have to provide support. We see a lot of good examples from hardware stores – they do DIY videos on YouTube. That’s super important. If you don’t know how to install a toilet, you’re not going to go buy one. So, they need that – as far as the consumer journey and experience goes. It’s really [about] putting the consumer at the center, which is a little bit of a trite thing to say, but I think it’s true. First thing’s first.

 

JP: Implementing these strategies is really, really difficult for a lot of brands internally. When brands have a customer acquisition group, a brand group, and a customer experience group – the reality is that it’s still the same customer, they’re just entering your brand through different touch points and avenues. Your experience is resonating, you’re working on the acquisition, but then when you bring them in, it’s still that customer that you’re driving the experience to. Sometimes this journey spans across  multiple teams and stakeholders. How do you manage integrating all the good data that you get around the experience – like you mentioned, talking to actual mothers and parents – and then, embed that through a multitude of strategies that provides a seamless experience to the customer?

MF: We talk a lot about how consumers don’t actually know if they’re getting an ad from me, or from a retailer, or whomever. They see an ad for Johnson’s, and 99% of the time they just see, “Oh, it’s a baby shampoo,” or whatever. But in reality, to your point, there [are] so many parts of the ecosystem at play. It could be an ad or an experience that’s managed by a retailer partner; it can be managed by me, PR, an influencer. It’s so important to be coordinated and to have that partnership. We put a lot of effort into that discussion and alignment upfront: What are our objectives? How are we achieving these together? What is our one communications plan to make sure we’re not operating in silos? From a creative perspective, [that] it’s not different messages; From a data perspective, that we’re talking to the right people, and retargeting the right people, and bringing it all around and feeding insights to one another. It’s all the same consumer. We just trick ourselves into thinking it’s different, but it’s not.

 

JP: Right. Different stakeholders and sometimes different measurements, which drive different initiatives, but trying to align all those is, I think, where Nirvana sits both internally and [for] companies like ours: Trying to find that alignment for the customer sitting in the center.

 

MF: Yes, for sure.

 

JP: So, from a digital first strategy perspective, J&J is a huge legacy company with over 200 companies inside it. How do you drive that overall digital-first strategy as an organization?

 

MF: Yeah, we think about, again, putting the consumer at the center and thinking about, well, first, where are they actually spending their time? What are their actual behaviors in the real world [and where do] we want to interact with them? And digital-first, I think, can be misconstrued as digital only, or digital media, but there’s also a performance mindset that is important within a digital-first mindset of data collection, iteration, optimization, that also needs to be fed into this. But, from a consumer journey perspective, what are those moments along their journey where we can deliver a transformational brand-building experience? Where does it matter? Where is it really high stakes? And put our time and effort there to really make a difference. And, you know, it could be communications, it could be commerce technology, it could be an app experience, whatever. But really, digital-first doesn’t mean anything unless the consumers are there – it’s [zeroing into] a behavior of: They’re working from home, or they like to shop on their phone, or watch how-to videos before they buy something. So, putting ourselves in their shoes and then leveraging digital technology e-commerce to really enable those kinds of brand-building experiences.

"There's also a performance mindset that I think is important within a digital-first mindset of data collection, iteration, optimization, that also needs to be fed into this."

And then, as I mentioned, what have we learned from that, and how do we get better? That performance mindset, I think, to me, that’s what digital-first actually means, which is a lot, and pretty complex. But it’s not, “We’re going to run Facebook ads, and now we’re more digital-first.” That’s objectively not true. A lot of brands do that, and they’re totally not, but it’s a mindset shift, really.

 

Also read: Why Customer Experience Can’t Be All Data-Driven

 

JP: And it’s also a mindset shift to really understand that, even upfront, when you’re identifying your strategies, data can be utilized to understand deeper sentiment and intent from the persona. And also being able to look at engagement metrics, engagement features, and overall demand that does drive both your online and offline strategy through that journey. I think that’s missed a lot.

 

MF: Yeah, it’s getting back to that feedback loop. We don’t want media plans to live in silos. We don’t want insights living in silos, either. So, if you run a programmatic campaign and find out that “Claim X” drives twice as much conversion – it would be pretty good to know as you’re developing other communications or strategies that, “Hey, this is a behavior-changing message. This matters. Let’s think about that. Let’s iterate on this a little bit…” And that’s what we strive for. That’s, I think, Nirvana for me: Getting to that place, but to the extent [in which] you can use it as a research tool. I think that’s one of the less leveraged aspects of digital media right now, and why you’re seeing more and more CPGs getting [into] DTC commerce. I can’t imagine that a lot of these companies are making any money on having a DTC website, selling snacks or soda, but the data they’re getting from it is invaluable. And that’s why they’re doing it.

 

JP: Right. 2020-2021 has been a really interesting year. And COVID in many ways, like you said at the beginning of the [interview], drove the need to really understand the customer experience. If you were to define the experience that you want with your customer, as you continue to go into 2021, what does that relationship look like for J&J?

"If our mission is to make sure babies have the healthiest start to life, how do we not address a global health pandemic? That's crazy.".

MF: I think at a very high level, that relationship is one that is meaningful and relevant. That we are listening to what our consumers need and expect, and we’re delivering on that expectation. [It came into] real focus in the last year with brands: [the need] to think about how they adapt their communications in the face of COVID, and the face of social unrest and racial inequality, and all these different things. There’s a lot on consumers’ minds. It’s not just a product. It could be what’s happening at home or – [for example] – having to homeschool a child for the year, which is a huge challenge, as a lot of us know, right now. But really finding ways to resonate with them on that personal level. We’re a relevant brand, we’re meaningful, and we deliver against those expectations.

 

For us, a lot of new parents are coming into the category [during] a very challenging time. Right now, being an expecting parent is incredibly challenging, which is why last year we launched our #InItTogether program, which is a partnership with Meredith [in which] we created all sorts of different content and videos around what questions to ask your doctor before you go to the hospital; what to expect when you’re giving birth; can your partner be in the delivery room with you. All these sorts of questions we know were rattling around in parents’ minds. There was no tie to sales there, that was purely equity, but we knew we couldn’t talk about shampoos and lotions without addressing this enormous stressor that is happening in the lives of millions of people, right now. We had to talk about this. If our mission is to make sure babies have the healthiest start to life, how do we not address a global health pandemic? That’s crazy.

 

So, I think it’s thinking about that and knowing that we have to be relevant and, if we can continue to do that – if we can continue to make connections, meaningful connections with modern consumers – we’ll be okay. But it’s being agile enough to adapt with the needs and what’s happening in the world around us.

#InItTogether Campaign on Johsnon's Baby Instagram

Also read: How Avidon Health Is Solving the Patient Engagement Problem in Healthcare

 

JP: It’s really made prominent and propelled customer experience forward, faster than I think a lot of people would have expected and the authentic, transparent, empathetic approach to really understanding where people are in their day and their mindset. It’s different for everybody, but being able to – I don’t like the word “market,” as much as I like the [practice of being] able to connect with them with your offering, which is an offering of support, in many respects. So one last question for you. How do you define innovation for both the business that you’re in, and for J&J?

 

MF: I think it is finding what consumers actually want and need, and delivering on it. That could be product innovation to meet emerging needs. We see that across industries in response to the at-home economy now. People’s lives have dramatically changed in the last year. So, there’s new physical needs.

 

We’re also seeing a communications evolution and innovation. So, it could be: What are the needs of consumers, or what are their new questions? What are they wrestling with now? Like the example I gave with parenting information and around COVID. But, I think, regardless, again, it needs to be meaningful. And innovation can’t just be a fresh coat of paint. You can do that, that can work, but ideally it’s evolving with changing needs. If we’ve seen anything in the last year, we’ve seen that needs are changing really rapidly, and the brands and the companies that can continue to evolve and keep pace with what people are looking for, that’s the magic combination. It can be tough. Product innovation obviously takes time. For us, everything we do is backed in science and research. So, we can’t just quickly [get] new products out the door in a couple of weeks, but taking those insights and really thinking about: What are new parents or new consumers looking for? Are they looking for germ-killing characteristics in a wash, right now? Okay. Let’s think about that. How do we deliver on that? But it could also mean information, like the last example, too.

 

JP: Yeah. Well, Matt, from your background – from the very beginning to all the work that you’ve done at J&J – very, very insightful and great to have you on for the Innovator Series. So, I really appreciate your time and look forward to connecting again, soon.