May 20, 2019

Humanizing the Total Customer Experience

There’s a running joke at our agency about the famed industry “ecosystem slide.” You know what I’m talking about - that one presentation slide that attempts to visualize how every single consumer touchpoint plays a unique role, yet connects with every other touchpoint to form a cohesive customer experience. Maybe it’s a Venn diagram. Maybe it’s a table. Or, my personal nightmare, the “Beautiful Mind” approach– a bunch of floating platform icons with a web of lines connecting them all in one tangled ball of confusion. “Look!” we say. “This is your brand ecosystem! See how beautifully and simply it depicts the total customer experience?” “OK, John Nash,” our clients say, before dropping it into a desktop folder to gather digital dust.

 

Brand EcosystemAs marketers, it’s important to consider ecosystems, journeys, and the end-to-end customer experience. But these concepts can be hard to truly grasp when talking about them in the abstract, or out of the context of how an individual person experiences a brand and its products.

 

The reality is that in the digital age, our avenues of information are so diverse, our digital and physical spaces so entwined, that a customer journey is no longer linear or simple. At any given stage in the marketing funnel, a person might bounce around from Instagram, to billboard, to blog post, to text exchange and back in mere minutes. Even when this journey is simplified and beautifully designed to look at in aggregate, there’s a lack of realness to it– and a lack of true comprehension.

 

So how do we start to truly understand what the modern customer experience looks like without making our heads explode? Let’s get out of the abstract.

 

The AMP Strategy team is on a quest to humanize the total customer experience. Over the next several months, we’ll be doing first-person deep dives into the experience of shopping, purchasing, and returning across industries. We’ll map out real paths to purchase, identifying pain points and emotions along the way, to surface real industry insights and areas of opportunity– and share them right here on AMP’s blog.

 

Because at the end of the day consumers are human, and we need to understand them as humans. The true customer experience cannot be captured on a slide.

 

- Greer Pearce, VP of Strategy

 

Meet Our Humans

Greer

Greer Pearce, VP of Strategy

Outdoorswoman, jazz singer, tween culture obsessive

 

Ben

Ben Seldin, Strategy Director

Nike addict, political junkie, wanna-be foodie.

 

Elle

Elle Elderd, Associate Strategist

Savory over sweet, mixer of drinks and vinyls, runs on espresso

 

Jen

Jen Herbert, Senior Strategist

Literary fiction addict, almond croissant enthusiast, frequently-disappointed Chicago Bears fan

 

DJ

DJ Weidner, Strategy Director

Backyard grilling fanatic, year-round iced latte connoisseur, occasional salmon and halibut fisherman

 

james_herrera_new

James Herrera, Director, Experience Strategy

Life-long LA Dodgers fan, believer in the beginner’s mind, finds reading science non-fiction oddly satisfying

April 11, 2019

Sara Whiteleather, AMP Agency VP of Media, Speaks on Global Digital Ad Spending in Latest eMarketer Report

Our own Sara Whiteleather, VP of Media, was recently interviewed for eMarketer's latest report on Global Digital Ad Spending by Jasmine Enberg. The report details fascinating findings, like the fact that for the first time, digital will account for >50% of total global media ad spending.

 

Sara spoke with Jasmine in depth about the shifting media landscape and AMP Agency’s focus on driving greater efficiency and a stronger customer experience through the convergence of digital and traditional channels.

 

In the report, Sara shares, “Brands are continuing to break down the traditional marketing silos and think about customer experience first and foremost. That applies to traditional vs. digital and paid vs. owned. They’re thinking holistically about how to reach consumers across all the different touchpoints in the full marketing ecosystem.”

 

Check out the full report from eMarketer here: https://www.emarketer.com/content/us-digital-ad-spending-2019

 

March 19, 2019

Building Strong Brand Tribes (Inspired by Presenters at SXSW)

Jen Herbert, Senior Strategist at AMP

 

I haven’t been to Disney World since I was eight, but this year I was fortunate enough to go to South by Southwest (SXSW), which I have now dubbed “Disneyland for Adults.” When I wasn’t busy presenting with the rest of the fierce AMP team for our participation in   YouTube’s SXSW Creative Agency Challenge, or being distracted by the puppies at the Amazon Prime activation and the endless CBD-related samples at the wellness expo, I promise I was putting on my Brand Strategist hat and attending a wealth of panels and keynotes with my colleague and SXSW partner-in-crime, Andie, AMP’s Director of Business Development.  


The best part was listening to speakers with such diversity in perspective, and realizing that all of these accomplished individuals offered a unique method for building and strengthening a brand tribe: through social impact, play, internal creativity, and centering the customer experience around a singular emotional benefit.


While we’ve been hearing about “brand community” for some time, “brand tribe” is a relatively new term in Marketing, yet it’s important because it denotes a much deeper relationship between brand and customer. While a member of a brand community need only participate on occasion, perhaps via a purchase or a ‘like’ on Instagram, a member of a brand tribe wholly believes in that brand. Connection with that brand becomes an outward expression of one’s identity to the rest of the world. Brand tribe members wear merchandise, create user-generated Social content, join loyalty programs, go on auto-pay plans, and, perhaps most importantly, recruit others to join the tribe too.


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Building A Brand Tribe Through Social Impact


Study after study has proven that in 2019, consumers want to back brands that share their values and create a positive change in the world. That being said, brands can’t talk at customers about the good they’re doing; they need to work with their customers to spread good together. As panelists during How Brands Can Engage the Social Impact Generation outlined, social impact must be participatory.


One panelist, Viveka Hulyalkar, Co-Founder and CEO of Beam, has developed a customer engagement platform that partners with a given company, say, a fast-casual salad stand. The salad company decides how much they’re willing to donate per purchase and a cause they would like to support, such as third world female education. Customers can then log into the app to track how each salad purchased gets them closer to buying a textbook for a young girl. Another panelist, Helena Hounsel, Social Media Manager at Brandless, offered an example of how a brand tribe of activists can be built on Social: “Rather than spending International Women’s Day showing how your company volunteered at a women’s nonprofit, why don’t you instead ask your audience which women are inspiring them this holiday?”


By rallying around causes that your brand and your customers share a passion for, and then providing a platform for your customers to become ambassadors for the cause, your social impact becomes experiential and your brand tribe becomes united around a higher purpose.


_________


Building A Brand Tribe Through Play


All work and no play makes a brand’s tribe very dull. IBM’s Dr. John Cohn reminded us of that in his session, Prioritizing Play in an Automated Age, where he outlined how making room to play can smooth the bumps during life’s tough disruptions. During the talk, Dr. Cohn told us about play projects of his, like an 18-foot tall animatronic pumpkin man as well as an art car built for Burning Man. He recounted how droves of people, some of whom then became his fellow creators, were drawn to his projects while they were being built and shown off to the world.


In other words, play can help you find your brand tribe, in a very “if you build it, they will come” kind of way. Through your bravery to look silly and/or fail, and your willingness to surrender to wonder for no reason other through indulging curiosity, your brand will show its authenticity and customers who identity a similar raison d’être in themselves will be drawn to you naturally.


ActualPlayCartoon

Sure, you might be saying, A wacky scientist from IBM can have a little fun, but how can brands? Let’s not forget this Southwest flight attendant who transformed the safety demonstration into a burlesque performance, or KFC apologizing for running out of chicken with an on-the-nose newspaper ad featuring its carton respelt as FCK.


_________


Building A Brand Tribe Through Internal Creativity


It is often hard for brands to prioritize looking inward, to their own company culture and values, when there are always so many externally-focused tasks to complete. The beloved bakery Milk Bar, however, is proof that the spirit of brands that cultivate internal creativity will always shine through and be felt externally by customers.

 

MilkBarToolkit

During Innovation in Pursuit of the Unexpected, Christina Tosi, cookie-baker extraordinaire and company founder, along with her agency partner, Michael Greenblatt of REDSCOUT, reflected on how the Milk Bar brand toolkit is a toolkit in the truest sense of the word. Through the codified system of the color palette, off-kilter logo placement, branded pastry box tape, and decorative stamps, Milk Bar employees at locations around the country are encouraged to leverage their creativity to use the tools as they’d wish. For example, the Milk Bar team suggested designing the delivery truck to look like it was covered in the Milk Bar tape; others use the logo and colors to bedazzle denim jackets and beanies that they wear to work.


This DIY spirit has created a tribe of Milk Bar devotees. Because employees are welcome to live and breathe the brand uniquely, customers also view the brand as a living and breathing thing to interact with–for example by holding up a cup of “cereal milk” soft serve to a pretty background for the perfect Instagram, or by decorating their laptop in Milk Bar stickers.


_________

 

Building A Brand Tribe Through Creation of “Brand Feeling”


Lastly, it’s easy to get bogged down in lifting brand metrics. Yet during Following the Feeling: Creating Brand Value, Columbia University lecturer Kai Wright argues that the most important brand metric is how you make others feel. After all, Wright noted, humans make 95% of our daily decisions on “auto-pilot,” rather than weighing pros and cons in order to choose the best and most rational choice, with emotions influencing nearly 70% of our decision-making.


He cited brands who have expertly structured their brand “LAVEC”– lexicon, audio cues, visual stimuli, experience, and culture– around a singular brand feeling. Take Disney, whose feeling of “happiness” is supported by audio cues like fireworks and visual stimuli like wearing the iconic mouse ears, or Gatorade, whose feeling of “endurance” is brought to life through the lexicon of calling its products “fuel.”


If a customer can rely on your brand not just for great products or services, but for a guaranteed emotional experience, your brand tribe is then powered by the strength of shared human connection.

March 8, 2019

YouTube's SXSW Creative Agency Challenge 2019- AMP Agency

A core tenant of our business at AMP Agency is that we strive to generate strategy that is creative, and creative that is strategic. But any marketing agency would agree that it can be challenging for the Strategy team to continually build briefs that present a unique POV and inspire the Creative team; on the other hand, it can sometimes be a puzzle for Creative to generate ideas that are both breakthrough in the marketplace and guaranteed to resonate with our audiences.


This winter our Strategy and Creative teams were given the opportunity to push those bounds and work on a project, leveraging audience insights, that has made us into even more creative and thoughtful storytellers. Not only that, it’s revitalized the way our teams collaborate together.

______________

THE BACKGROUND


We were selected to participate in the 2019 iteration of YouTube's South by Southwest (SXSW) Creative Agency Challenge. We were excited to learn the theme was "Signals and Storytelling." This theme pushed us to look beyond audience demographics and think meaningfully about consumers’ interests and intent signals based on how they’re using Google & YouTube--and more importantly how these insights could more strategically inform our creative storytelling.


During the Challenge kick-off at YouTube NYC, we discussed how it’s no longer acceptable to fill the Target Audience section of a creative brief with simple, demographic information. The comical example that Google gave, and that stuck with us, is that by writing a demographic-led brief like, Aged 65+, British, high net worth, dog lover, we would unknowingly be creating content that tailored to both Prince Charles and Ozzy Osbourne!


In addition, this year’s Challenge looked to harness the participating agencies’ efforts towards a greater good. YouTube partnered with the Ad Council, and we were asked to create two pieces of skippable YouTube video content for a select cause-based organization. AMP was assigned to work with She Can STEM. Our goal and our challenge was to use insights-based, creative storytelling to empower parents to encourage an interest in STEM.  More specifically, we wanted to understand and reach the audiences of Bargain Hunter parents and Technophile parents, who we found, through working with Google, showed strong affinity for the cause.


 

 


 

 


Below, our Senior Strategist, Jen Herbert, and Creative Director, James Hough, reflect on their insights, the process, and experience.

______________

FROM CONSUMER INSIGHTS TO CREATIVE STRATEGY


Jen: When analysing interest and intent signals, what came as the biggest surprise was that bargain hunter parents like watching quirky videos featuring silly experimentation around the house, such as Making Slime and the Cheese Ball Bath Challenge. To resonate, I thus wanted to recognize their lives are full of creative, scrappy, playful discovery, and how through this they established a foundation that could translate to a career in STEM.


For Technophile Parents, I saw that they are often shopping for gaming systems, but also interested in sports, TV shows, movies and news articles. So, to cater our messaging to Technophile Parents, I wanted to acknowledge their lives as multi-dimensional and well-rounded.


______________


THE CREATIVE PROCESS


James: The Creative Team viewed this opportunity as a chance to see how we stacked up against other up-and-coming and established advertising agencies and marketing agencies. We felt empowered to ensure our storytelling was on point. Basic empowerment and “you’re a badass” messaging wouldn’t cut it when we need to tell parents they have a job to do – keeping their daughters interested in STEM through the 11 to 14 year-old drop off point. More simply, “She can STEM.”


Based on the strategic insights in our creative brief, we presented four concepts and eight scripts to the Ad Council after sharing initial thoughts with Google. After the Ad Council chose a direction we storyboarded, found a director (Max Esposito), found locations, cast and shot– all within about a week. I think that the financial and time constraints coupled with the freedom to go out and create without check-in’s made for something special.


While each of our spots are aimed at a different audience, they shared the same goal. In each of the stories we see relatable and tangible ways a parent can encourage their daughter at the right time to keep going. Instead of pushing future-focused images of a marine biology or coding career, we centered the seemingly minor moments of everyday life that could have a big impact on a girl’s interest, like a trip to the aquarium with mom or the gift of a tablet from dad.


Check them out. We really hope you like them:

 

https://youtu.be/-bxOcFJNEjs  

 

https://youtu.be/hWZrvXpace8  


And check out the story on Adweek, Think with Google, MarComm News, and others:

https://www.adweek.com/brand-marketing/youtube-wants-to-teach-marketers-how-to-create-more-targeted-advertising-at-sxsw/ 

 

https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/advertising-channels/video/youtube-audience-behavioral-insights/ 

 

https://marcommnews.com/youtube-and-ad-council-tap-amp-agency-and-others-for-sxsw-challenge/

 

https://lbbonline.com/news/ad-council-spots-show-how-girls-can-be-inspired-to-work-in-stem/

 

March 1, 2019

Nice Try, Fruitcake- A Peek into AMP Agency's Creative Process

Hey! We’re AMP agency, and we like to do things a little differently. For example, this past year our holidays started in October. Not because we haven’t mastered the art of calendar reading, but because we felt our clients deserved a better brand of holiday gift. Something a cut above your average season’s greetings. It took a lot of thought, a little elbow grease, and a mild amount of destruction, but in the end, we’re extremely proud of the result.

 

 

 

It all began with fruitful brainstorming and a swirl of over sixty ideas. Eventually, we landed on one that felt right – destroying holiday fruitcakes, everyone’s least favorite gift.

 

At its core, our idea centered on using fruitcakes as a catch-all symbol for holiday thoughtlessness. By filming ourselves destroying them, we hoped to humorously convey our very serious commitment to providing decidedly thoughtful work and gifts to our client base. Along with the video, clients received a custom-designed fruitcake tin stuffed with a delicious assortment of holiday treats. For context, the accompanying card included a holiday poem explaining the nature of our gift.

 

Holiday Tin and Card       Holiday Card Message

For the tin, microsite and card, we crafted our modern-take on classic holiday fonts, while incorporating our AMP’s orange and black brand colors.

 

Flexibility is King When it Comes to Creating

Initially, we wanted to populate a custom-designed microsite with a series of six to ten second videos, each conveying a different form of destruction, and each involving different members of our office - an AMP fruitcake brigade, if you will. However, as we storyboarded and got set to film, we decided to ditch the employee-focus and hone in on the actual destruction with one cinematic video.

 

When it came to concepting methods for doing away with fruitcakes, we really got into it – maybe too into it. We tossed around what could be seen in the video: slapping a cake into a meat grinder, flattening a cake with a badass SUV, and breaking one open with a bat. From slingshots to samurai swords, we sorted through it all until we landed on the perfect set of destruction methods.

 

Web Developers For The Win

 

With our storyboards drawn, props ordered, and our video department locked-and-loaded, we took to the streets of Boston and filmed all of our fruitcake destruction. In total, it took about two and a half days to film. We not only shot what we had storyboarded, but a multitude of new ideas, angles, and transition shots as they presented themselves.

 

One pivot in particular really brought this concept to fruition. Even after we shifted from an employee-focused approach to one honing in exclusively on the destruction methodologies, we still needed someone to actually put these things into motion. We asked a member of our web development team, Gabe, to take the role, and he agreed with great enthusiasm.

 

We wrote the scripts so that he would barely be seen and the burden of acting would be minimized. But after the first day of filming, we realized we had a pretty great actor in our midst, and the video as a whole would be elevated by making him the focus. This was no longer an aesthetically pleasing montage of destruction, but the tale of one man’s maniacal quest to deliver AMP’s clients the best holiday gift possible.

 

How It All Came Together

 

We sought to not only wish our clients a Happy Holiday, but also flex our creative muscles. A custom microsite and a video provided the perfect mediums to showcase many facets of our creative capabilities in quick and engaging formats. Combined with our custom-designed holiday cards and tins, we sent our clients into the holiday season with something to have a laugh at and some tasty treats to enjoy. Getting to destroy fruitcakes along the way was just the icing on the cake.

 

Please enjoy the fruits of our labor at www.nicetryfruitcake.com  and check out our previous holiday cards.

February 11, 2019

3 Ways to Ready Your Brand for the Data Drought

Over the past several years, we’ve operated in a golden age of data. Between first-, second- and third-party sources, marketers have leveraged this information about their consumers as a powerful marketing tool.


But the data well is about to start drying up.


Our VP of Strategy, Greer Pearce, and our VP of Media, Kazi Ahmed, talk about the data drought and the three things brands can do right now to ready themselves for it.

 

Check it out on MediaPost: https://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/331299/data-drought-coming-prepare-with-effective-use-of.html

October 17, 2018

Just For Men Launches Be The Better Man Campaign

What do you do if you’re the original men’s grooming brand and want to encourage men everywhere to be – and look – a little better? You step in front of the mirror and give yourself a makeover.

 

That’s what AMP Agency and Just For Men accomplished together with this week’s launch of the Be The Better Man brand platform and campaign.

 

 

For more than 30 years, Just For Men has been letting guys know it’s not only OK to care about their appearance, but to do something about it. And over the decades, Just For Men has been innovating and refining hair care solutions that make it easy for men to achieve the natural look that lets them feel their best. And as their portfolio has expanded to include beard care and hair regrowth (and more to come), it was time to reinforce the brand’s leadership role in the men’s grooming conversation it started in 1987.

 

Be The Better Man stems from the idea that it takes a good man to know he can always be a little better. The notion applies to both their daily grooming routine and the way they go about their lives. We are calling on guys everywhere to take the small steps needed to look their best—and do the little things that make the lives of those around them, well, better.

 

02_JFM_PREP TALK_15_script B_ Cut03B_Conform_WIP (1).00_00_33_08.Still005

The campaign launched on CBS NFL Game Day this past Sunday. With the broadcast buy comes a fully integrated brand push. It started with a re-imagined website, email and social channels and will continue with an omni-channel paid media campaign within outdoor and digital. We’ll be on TV screens and in locker rooms at the hottest gyms in our key markets. Digital will focus on partnering with the web’s leading experts on grooming (GQ), dating (Match), business travel (Conde Nast Traveller), and parenting (Fatherly) through custom content and ambassador/influencer programs to reinforce the message of being better in all aspects of life. We’ll ultimately push product via direct-to-consumer tactics within programmatic and social channels through efficient reach and continuous frequency in the Better Man messaging against our male audience.

 

Check out the following coverage to learn more about the campaign:

Ad Age

MarketWatch

Marketing Dive 

Marketing Communications News

 

October 4, 2018

Beyond Personas: Creating Customer Doppelgangers

 

BlogPost#1

Dear smart marketers: it’s time to start dabbling in doppelgängers.

 

What does this mean, exactly? It means the future of substantial and effective consumer understanding relies on the intersection of behavioral analysis and Consumer Identity Strategy (CIS).

 

Although consumer research has always been a crucial component of advertising, CIS is a new, more comprehensive level of consumer research. Through CIS, brands establish an authentic and evolving portrait of a consumer and their purchasing journey informed through persistent evaluation of online and offline behavior coupled with demographics and psychographics.

 

By developing an identity strategy that layers behavioral data onto more traditional methods of qualitative and quantitative analysis, brands are able to truly identify their consumer.

 

Discovering how, when and where a consumer shops, seeing what brands are stealing closet or cart space, and understanding how customers connect on social channels — brands can even see how their customers behave when they aren’t shopping.

 

In essence, brands don’t just build personas, but create doppelgängers of their customers through Big Data.

 

It’s the creation of these doppelgängers that enable brands to attain a comprehensive understanding of how their consumers act, live and behave. With this knowledge, brands can make viable predictions of how particular consumers will shop and act based on similar consumers. This doppelgänger approach can even be applied to the smallest business all the way up through the big leagues. Even in big league baseball.

 

At age 32, Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz hit a career-threatening slump. But Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight.com used doppelgängers to refute the conventional wisdom that Ortiz was washed up.

 

>> Interested in taking a swing at the details of Big Papi’s doppelgängers? Download our white paper now to learn more.

 

Ortiz ultimately shook his slump and improved his game, just as Silver’s doppelgänger data suggested. With the right amount of the right data, brands can build more effective and accurate personas. They can design strategies to reach and serve their customers not only with the right messaging, but also the right timing and cadence.

 

Using behavioral data to create a consumer identity strategy is no longer for the Amazons, Walmarts and Googles of the world. It’s for every brand that has a physical, digital and mobile presence in their industry. Brands that don’t focus their marketing dollars on consumer identity strategies immediately will find themselves playing catch-up in the years to come.

 

Now is your chance to step up to the plate and make bold business moves. Get a deeper look into the power of behavioral analysis and AMP Agency here by downloading the white paper, or visit AMP’s website: www.ampagency.com.

October 1, 2018

Big Data's Impact on Consumer Research and Strategy

Customer Identity Strategy Blog Post

When it comes to the dynamic nature of marketing and advertising climates, stagnancy is rarely recommended.

 

That’s why it may seem unfathomable that consumer research tactics have seldom adapted since the folks at Arm & Hammer discovered that their customers were putting baking soda in their refrigerators to keep them fresh.

 

But now, marketers are no longer confined to surveys, interviews, and focus groups. Consumer research is finally following the lead of Arm & Hammer’s customers and freshening things up big-time.

 

Data scientists and smart data-led marketers today are creating methods that improve and expand upon the insights coming from traditional qualitative and quantitative research. As a result, consumer research as a whole is embracing a new wave of audience understanding thanks to the help of Big Data.

 

That’s right — Big Data just so happens to be the next big thing for consumer research.

 

By layering in Big Data, brands can develop a comprehensive Consumer Identity Strategy (CIS): an authentic and evolving portrait of a consumer and their purchasing journey informed through persistent evaluation of online and offline behavior coupled with demographics and psychographics.

 

The idea of observing people’s actions, habits and behaviors may not seem all that groundbreaking. But being able to observe consumers at scale and use data models based on behavior is, in fact, disruptive for marketers and is rapidly becoming the core of every identity strategy.

 

By augmenting self-reported surveys, behavioral data analysis builds a picture of a consumer based on their actual behaviors. These behaviors can range from what they purchase online and offline to behaviors as specific as what time of day they like to shop or how often they actually go to the gym.

 

To see how Big Data and CIS play out in real-life scenarios, just look at Netflix — a company who learned early on in its life cycle that actions speak much louder than words.

 

 

>> Read more about how this streaming giant succeeded in using Big Data-driven consumer identity strategy by downloading our complete white paper here.

 

 

Netflix grew their business by using behavioral data that showed true consumer behavior. On top of that, this data helps reveal counterintuitive results that may go against what society or individuals believe to be true.

 

When this behavioral data is layered onto more traditional methods of qualitative and quantitative analysis, brands are then able to truly identify their consumer in ways traditional research methods had not made possible before Big Data came into play.

 

Now’s the time to be bold and lead with the best tools available.Get a deeper look into the power of behavioral analysis and AMP Agency here by downloading the white paper, or visit AMP’s website: www.ampagency.com.

August 9, 2018

Unexpected Takeaways From the Ad Club's CMO Breakfast with JCPenney

“Stylish women love JCPenney. Some of them just don’t know it yet.”

 

Like I had, you might be thinking, “Really now? Coming from a brand with a decades-old value first reputation?” Yes, really. Bear with me on this because I wasn’t buying it at first either, but there’s something fascinating here.

 

My expectations weren’t exactly clear walking into the AdClub CMO breakfast featuring Marci Grebstein, JCPenney’s recently appointed Chief Marketing Officer. In fact, I hadn’t heard much about JCPenney in recent advertising news at all. So, as I settled into my seat in the Google auditorium, I carried my perception of JCPenney as being an outdated brand with me. What followed in the next 60 minutes of Marci’s presentation radically shifted that perception, and propelled me into a state of furious notetaking.

Expectations: 0. Marci: 1.

As Marci spoke, my previous perceptions were countered by a surprising portrait of a progressive brand that has altered its messaging to meet the the modern American mom where she actually is, not where the rest of the world expects her to be.

 

How did JCPenney break from an old brand perception and arrive at their new strategic positioning? With Marci’s lead, the company invested in what many brands have yet to: critical brand perception research and journey mapping. They put in the work to better understand the modern American mom, their bullseye audience. The result? A clear picture of her values that transcend just standard demographics alone—

 

  • Convenience: She’s a working mom who doesn’t have a ton of time.
  • Family: She puts extra emphasis on family - her real family, work family, friend family. She loves spending time with them, especially when shopping.
  • Price: She’s on a tight budget, so finding style for less is important.

These newly pinpointed values exposed a critical insight that ultimately drove JCPenney’s brand repositioning: The modern American mom wants to find value without sacrificing style.

 

When you think of value forward, you might think Walmart or Kohl’s. When you think of style forward, you might think Nordstrom or Macy’s. To meet this mom where she is, JCPenney repositioned itself to exist at the intersection of both. This opportunistic white space was the driving force for a major shift in marketing communications—breaking from the old “Get your Penney’s worth” tagline, and transitioning to “Style and Value for All”, a nod to their diverse and value-driven audience.

 

JCPenney has since rolled out everything from new brand anthem spots touting their new messaging to fresh fashion, beauty, and influencer partnerships—all of which reflect a diverse range of people and lifestyles, centering on shared American values and family.

 

 

 

I applaud JCPenney’s efforts to get smart about their customer. It can be scary for brands, especially ones with long legacies, to step away from the standard. But JCPenney took these consumer insights as an opportunity to break free from the mold and instead represent who their customers really are—people of all different sizes, cultures, family types, and mindsets.

But wait, there’s more.

Extending beyond a commitment to reflecting their diverse consumer in their advertising, Marci confirmed the brand also puts strong emphasis on diversity in hiring. When I asked if JCPenney works to ensure that the multicultural woman they’re targeting is reflected in their work force and marketing decision makers, Marci met my question with enthusiastic appreciation.

 

She shared that she thinks diverse perspectives inevitably lead to stronger communication strategies—and that giving traditionally underrepresented populations in business a seat at the table is important to her. In support of this, she proudly shared that 60% of JCPenney’s decision makers are women, and growing numbers are racial minorities.

 

I’m of the belief that a sea of sameness yields more of the same. Strategies are elevated by the healthy tensions that diverse perspectives bring. And we need more of that.

 

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The sometimes difficult, but always invaluable self-reflection that JCPenney embarked on with their brand perception and consumer research is something all of us as marketers can learn from while navigating the ever changing consumer landscape.

 

Want to check out Marci’s full presentation and decide for yourself? Watch the full presentation here: http://theadclub.org/cmo/jcpenney/

 


 

This blog post was written by:

Alyssa McBryar, Marketing Manager

Liz Lauzon, Assoc. Business Development Manager

 

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