CMA Connect
CMA Connect

Episode · 7 months ago

EP30 - Fostering powerful marketing partnerships with Scott Megginson and Peter Rodriguez

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Our guests on CMA Connect this week are an accomplished marketing duo: Scott Megginson, President of Kantar, Canada and Peter Rodriguez, CMO and Founder of Brand Igniter. We chat about all things partnerships.

  • The relationship with a relaxed conversation

The riveting story of how Scott and Peter met over throat lozenges and went on to form a partnership between insights and brand management. And how many great partnerships like this one start with three things: a true respect for the areas of expertise each partner brings, the ability to build on each other's strengths, and a good challenge that helps align the organization.

  • How can marketers foster powerful partnerships that would benefit brands?

Scott Megginson talks about how excellent partnership templates exist in a number of sectors, particularly ones that really invest in consumer insights. This includes sectors like technology and financial services.

  • The challenges of globalization and regionalization

“There is a big push to standardize things and centralize. Let's say, out of the US and then go from there, as opposed to finding success wherever in the world, and then testing that success outside of that market to expand it. The strategy that Scott and I put together grew a category that no one thought could grow anymore, because of the way it was measured. It had 70% market share; how are you going to grow that? Well, only if you break all of those patterns around it, and stop thinking in a way that is limiting” - Peter Rodriguez

  • The paradox of cost-cutting measures

Why cost-cutting (like advertising cuts) may mean a brand is cashing in permanently on brand equity, which may have been built over many years. Scott talks about how this may be a reason we see “many commoditized brands in the market now, not brands who could really demand a huge premium, because we've really gone beyond the point of no return with the cutbacks that we've made.”

Tune into this episode of ‘CMA Connect’ for the full conversation between Scott Megginson, Peter Rodriguez, and John Wiltshire.

...***)(*** Please note that this transcript is auto- generated and may contain errors***) With all the wage and supply chain driven inflation. It' s It' s more important now than ever to have distinctive brands in the market the people are willing to pay a premium for. It is really time to reinvest in real luck and restrategize ground brands, because we can't keep doing the same things like different results, especially in times exactly. I think that inflation is whats sifts good brands from all the rest. People will make decisions based on the motion all the time and they only make decisions on emotional if you teach them how to think about the brand, then the rank has value. Then attributes our secondary welcome to seem a connect the voice of the Canadian marketing community. Join us. What we have empowering discussions with industry leaders about the rapidly changing world of marketing and ask the questions no one else is asking. I'm your host, John Wilsham. Hello everyone. Our guests today are quite the accomplished marketing duo. Scott Meganson, president of can't are Canada and currently acting managing director central us for cant ours in Sights Division, and Peter Rodriguez, CMO and founder of brand igniter. Both are very strong contributors to thema efforts and I'm just so pleased that they came on the program today. I'm glad they have joined me today and we want to talk about partnerships. But let's start off with this first question. You to go way back. Can you tell us a little bit about your history, how your professional paths originally crossed? I'll take us tob of that and this is Scott. Think of. Very much, John for the introduction. First laid eyes on Peter Rodriguez when I was making a transition from the former angus red group, which was...

...my first job in market research, and it was joining the Adams Division of Werner Lambert, which became fiser, which became cadbury, which became craft and is now Mandeli's, as will CEPG's go and Peter captured my attention. I actually went to a planning session, while it's still working to angus. Are you just making transition, and all of the brand managers were presenting their plans for the year and Peter was in the middle of a room at the resort talking about how we wanted to take halls from a cold medicine, or really like a medicine, into an empowering consumer throat remedy for all purposes, and he had his little laser light was shining on a picture of a woman's throat and he immediately captured my attention. I knew that person sloping forward to working with. And what about you, Peter? Thank you, John as goot. Yes, this brings great memories. I remember that conference, in that meeting where I was trying to reference the big opportunity for halts to go from season to reason, just from a season of Colef and call usage into a whole year of reasons to use that for ferraggy throats, for example, when you cannot express yourself with your throat and your voice, that's where you use halls instead of something else. Now, that idea needed a lot of support on the consumer insight perspective and I remember clearly how you set out a plan to transfer those in sides into actual strategy, to create something that would actually work with the consumer in aligning everything else, including positioning, communication, product packaging and her portfolion general, back to that one promise. So I remember...

...clearly that that was the start of a great partnership because we started to understand the strategy based on the consumer centric needs of that brand instead of the internal needs or what we believe it would be valuable. So the the ability to create that clear path based on the consumer needs and consumer desires was the start of a great partnership that then evolved into relaunching the largest branding, that glory olds, and then moving only to relaunch the largest gum brand in in those days, which was tried and but I think that that from the early days. So we hit it off. I remember we wearing this first conversation happening a hot top. Too much information, and that was I that was so clear. It's so, so memorable because I remember we were just having, you know, this social time with our teams and we met that we started talking about insights and strategy. How exciting that would be, so in a hot time, and I was there for that. Your relationship start with a very relaxed conversation. That's great. Well, I mean they are wonderful partnerships when when you both bring something very unique but really great together different topics and it sounds like you found the secret sauce to a partnership between insights and brand management. What is that partnership? What's your starting point when you look at those two and how they work together. Peter really tapped on and a Goo when you said it was strategy and it was finding ways to articulate and execute against the strategy. And nothing's more motivating, I think, to a marketer...

...and insights person when you have a major brand with the major problem and and work needs to be done on it. So we immediately saw eyed eye and what needed to be done or what the problem was. But working together, I mean that was the key to the partnership, which had a role. You know, my role was to bring the consumer and all the insight and understanding into the conversation. Peter's role was to wrangle all of the production of new products and the Global R and D and the agencies and and supply chain and manufacturing and all the other things that marketers do in their hats, but really around one common purpose, and the purpose was around reinvigorating these brands. We had to. We worked on we had in an intense three years. We re launched halls and we really launched tried ent gum perfect. Yeah, you know, I think it was. I I think that this great partnership starts with three areas. To it. I think it means a true respect for the eras of experts. So as a marketer, I can definitely see our huge air of expect these in insights and specifically with it's called. So that respect for his opinion was critical and also built on each other's strengths. I think it was more about understanding why each one of us could bring to the table, learn from each other and challenge each other's thinking. We spent many hours, you know, for example, where we're doing the really lunch of triedent on big meetings between ourselves and then bringing other people around where we were challenging our thinking. It was not only all that's a great yea, let's do that, or it was like tell me how you while you're thinking that. I loved when when Scott said, well, you know, how does this translating to the business? How does this translating to how we're going to go back to the consumer? So that challenge was very valuable to me. Had to simplify all of that complexity from the redcation in order to bring...

...into back catching the sign or a creative brief or just the product articulation, and Scott would be challenging me to say, okay, so is that really going back to the consumer inside? Is that really grounded on what we've learned? Is that really solid thinking? So that that partnership, in that trust was also important. And then the last piece. I think it was so important because once we had our act together, our stuff together, nice ways to put it. Yes, yeah, then we had to align the organization. So sometimes I think that for these two projects, which were massive, those these two brands halt and tried, they were the biggest brands in the confectionery category at the time and it was not easy. Sometimes I say that the hardest thing was not to convince the consumer, it was convincing the organization on thinking differently, how to see things in a new way, how to find growth where we hadn't found it before. And for those to big projects, Scott and I were able to identify those drivers overcome those inhibitors based on that clear understanding of consumer insights and how to put him into strategy netnet. That's the only way that we could align the organization, and that was first the Canadian organization and then it was the global organization because, as you know, many raysations have global strategies, global direction. And when a market like Canada comes and say as well, you know, we may want to go this way versus that way, you need to do a lot of convincing. But the the solid partnership that was based on respect, on interaction and good challenge help us alide the organization in the get everyone behind it and get otherwise it willn't would have happened. So I think that those are the three components of a great partnership. Yeah, that's really great question, though, and maybe you can't ask this because you're in it, but I wonder why partnerships...

...of this nature aren't more common. Marketing is about specialization and it just makes sense to do a lot more of these types of partnerships. I'm wondering whether it we need more hot tubs. Probably not, but what your one? And you know, why is this not happening more often, these common types of partnerships that would value the client and and would bring the various aspects of specialization into the equation? I think they are, John. I think we see them in a number of sectors. Like I think about the sectors that it's still really invest in consumer insights and and you see a lot around tech right now, and you see a lot around in financial services as two examples, and those are where insights and analytics player a critical role in guiding the organization and even helping with sales and also all these other touch points which which used to be a role of consumer insights. It's I think the major change is what we've seen in consumer package goods right and a lot of that has been the result of private equity acquisitions and stripping out costs from the system. It was always a struggle, a Peter touched on. It was always a struggle for Canadian brands to make a case for their own advertising, their own packaging, their own flavor profiles or product profiles as they went, because there's just such an enormous push for standardization. That happened across the you know, the first couple of decades of Hillennium and as a result those roles have diminished to in many cases, not not every organization, but you know, the pressure has been with downsize insights organizations really around scorecarding and just quality of data...

...and such, and with a lot of the marketing organizations it's been really administering the go to market for the products which are largely developed in the US with us strategies, and that's the big difference is. You know, this was a moment of time that Peter and I were talking about, just a beautiful moment of time where we had to continuously prove the worth of what we were doing. But we were given enough a latitude to go down some different roads, and Peter touched on this. So it well staff, we had a big insights department, we had a big marketing department and we had big budgets to do research and to launch products and create advertising, compared to the very small budgets that we see now for a lot of manufacturers. And so we you know, this gave us the stage where you could the resources where we could do it. And then it's it comes to the people and the open mindedness and and you know, really, as I said before, lining strudge, even Peter said that he used to challenge me old Peter Tottenham's what I know about marketing the same time. So it's reciprocal. And I remember we've all heard that just because there's a hole in the market doesn't mean as market. In the hall I saw Stelt Peter Sometimes of white space is quite for a reason right. We really had to test things out and understand what the conserner had to say. So that's a big change, John. I see, at least in package goods us. We've just taken so many resources way and we've relied so much on US thinking and, ironically, we are a lot of advertising. It's ineffective in this market voting testing with Canadian consumers. I absolutely agree. In and within Canada, Canadian firms are realizing that segmentation is so important today and the consumer is becoming very different. is so many different subsegments that you need to actually task. You need to understand exactly who you're trying to reach and one size doesn't fit all. Peter, what do...

...you think about the question about I don't think it's possible to make you think negatively. I know you a little bit, but if I was to forth you negatively, you know what dis the points you about the state of affairs and marketing today. You know I was going to follow up on its calls port. I think that there are still organizations who understand the value of consumer driven strategy. consummer package goods in Canada is not doesn't have many examples, especially in larger veranizations. I concur at one of the biggest challenges that we're seeing is the globalization and regionalization, which already started twenty years ago. I was part of I was sitting in double teams at that time, where there was this big Bush to standardize things into, just centralize things out of let's say the US, and then go from there. I supposed to find the in true success whatever in the world and then testing that outside of that market to expand it, which happened with holes. I mean we the strategy that's Gott and I put together that actually prove to grow a category that no one thought could grow anymore because the way it was measured it was the brand had maybe seventy percent markets here. How are you going to grow that? Well, only if you break all of those patterns around it and stop thinking like in a nielsing category, which is so limiting. So that brings me to how we do things sometimes these days, and it is about loyal if it is working. The largest market, what is Canada, the size of California? Well, and I'm sure they will, will work out there and you export and impose that locally. It's easier to do this. You don't have to think about it. So for my central perspective, I understand that. I had opportunity to spend two years in the Home Office of Water Lambert and I had a good taste of that, that mindset. I mean, eventually,...

...when you have the whole world to run and manage, and I saw senior people they're trying to do that, it is hard to say, Oh yes, what about Canada? WHAT ABOUT QUEBEC? What about the ways? I mean they you don't even think about the regions in the same goes for other markets. So I can also see that the the advent of the need for profit in the short term, quarterly results being the king of decisions, pushed us to just mortgage result for all for the long time. I mean I don't think that it was done with a bad intention. I think was done out of necessity to say, well, you know what, we need to make sure we deliver this quarter and the growth has to be shown against the same quarter last year. And what is the easiest thing to cut? Well, unfortunately, it is the things that create growth over the long run. I mean, you're not going to down size organization overnight, but you can cut the budget for insights or for marketing efforts or for campaigns overnight. And but let me tell you what I think is worse. I think when you see that, and I did that too when I was responsive for budgets, I had sometimes to cut my budgets. And the danger is not that. The dangerest to make this a habit. The mad danger is to go into believing that this is the way to do things, because after two or three years then it becomes a norm. And I think that that's what's happened down the road. You train marketers, emerging marketers, grow to believe that that's the way to do it. They all of a sudden you see marketers that are so busy controlling the costs, controlling the expenses and doing their budgets over and ordering again, and they have no time to think about these things. They have no time to partner with a true leader in insights like Scott in. It was for me in that time when we were working on this,...

...that it would enable you to create something bigger. There's no time, if you ask me that. One one for stuation is that that in some organizations during by the circumstances, have lost that. I did to do that and you don't see you you can see a lot of directors from marketing today who have never done Canadian strategy. They're great at adapting, they can just transfer things over and be very good at digital tactics and data, but if you go deeper into what drives growth, which is insights to even strategy, you don't hear much. So but peters talking about is this evolution that we've seen, particularly in package goods, from sales driven organizations in Canada, almost like branch plants we had up here, executing whatever is coming in from the US, to the dawn of marketing end organizations, which was just the era that we're talking about, to finance driven organizations, and that's when the cost cutting started. And the huge paradox that, you know, I see in my life at cant are now is with all these cost cutting measures like cutting back on advertising or cutting back on the number of brands that are advertised, is you're really cashing in permanently on the brand equity which was built up over so many years, and that's why we have so many commoditized brands in the market now, brands so munch could really we demand a huge premium? You know, categories like juice, and just name the different categories, and confectionary others, to brands that are largely commoditize, because we've really gone beyond the point of no return with the cutbacks and made the marketing. Yeah, you know, I like to jump on that as well. I brands that are distinctive and relevant can command a premium price, and that is the whole reason why we do branding, because we want to be able to charge for that...

...value that consumers see in their minds. If you go back to the two examples that's Gott and I have been talking about, we were creating a higher value for the brand in the consumers mind it. We were delivering that with products in a bunch of other things. It was not about the product attributes, it was about what was in the consumers mind and the desires, dreams and aspirations that we could fulfill. Once that it is clear, then people whose side of price they are less sensitive and they're willing to do that. And Scout, stopped me, because you're the expert on how people behave with you know what they see different prices. Now our data would macum up there. I could back up with me it. Let me get let me gets cut in here. I think it's a fascinating discussion. We're going to run out of time today, but I do really like that notion of making sure that we understand that branding is about the consumer reaction and relationship to the product attributes. I think it's that's a fan that's a fantastic way to leave this conversation and say the opportunity for brands, for new brands, is that the old brands in some areas are not focusing on the consumers attitudes and preferences coming out of covid nineteen. And for the old brands it's something. There's opera, there's revenue opportunity. Is Growth? Are we doing? That comes from back to the basics, combination of insights and brand positioning and marketing. Is that? Is that a fair statement? Definitely a fair statement. But I go a little bit beyond that, John The I think melody mentioned covid. One of the biggest things for grappling with is just the wild inflation in the market as well, and and we're clients of ours now are spending more and more of their attention and budgets understanding pricing and in return on investment from different...

...media channels, because everything is changed so much in the last two years and with all the wage and supply chain driven inflation, it's it's more important now than ever to have distinctive brands in the market the people are willing to pay a premium for. I mean, look at the battles for having between PepsiCo and La blog companies and and things like that, and that's, you know, really putting. Throws a consumer in the middle and I guess they'll be the ones to vote on it. It is really time to to reinvest in real luck and we strategize fround brands because, you know, we keep it. Can't keep doing the same thing expect different results, especially in the Times exactly. You know, if I could add the Scott, I think that inflation is what sifts good brands from all the rest. You know, I had the Portunity to work in hyper inflationary markets with inflations north of a hundred and fifty percent per year. And you know who who want at the end. In the end, those brands that had strong, relevant, distinctive value for the consumers were able to command the premium. We're able to retain the value with the consumer, invested in marketing and advertising and all of those elements and at the end of that crisis came back roaring even better than before. So the moral of the story is that people will make decisions based on emotion all the time and they only make decisions on emotion if you teach them how to think about the brand in the rank has value. Then attributes are secondary. What I see the market. I'm just going to go back, John, to your point and what is for straining sometimes and when, and at the same time it's an opportunity for us because by teaching people how to do this, we have a business. The problem today is that people want to focus again on attributes. Oh, this brand is great because of all these attributes. Consumers care about their wants and needs and desires and dreams. If...

...you promise that in deliver a promise that is relevant every time. They will turn a blind eye to attribute some price, and obviously there will always be at rational component to that, to the decision, but it is mostly a shortcut to understand the value it. That's our job. We create as marketers. We should be creating that value. That is so overwhelming that I don't care. If I have to pay fifty cents more for that, I will do that greatly. I would if it is about a brand of beverages or chips or anything, every every brand that I've seen and touched in my career. That is what makes the difference. It's in the consumers head. It's not on the shelf, it's not on the product itself. The product has to deliver. Of course you cannot disappoint people, but sometimes even average products can outperform in our price better quality products. Why? Because the values in the consumers head. That's our job. We need to create that value, desire, interest, irrational desire for a brand that evenables us. That is brand equity. That is brand equity that Peter is talking about it and brand equity mean we do it empirical study around the world with the thousands of thousands of brands over the years and over time that we've seen the brands with strong brand equity don't think as far in economic downturn to markets rash two thousand and eight covid all the crashes we've had in between, and they have the sharpest V shape recovery coming back out at the end of the day because it's the brand equity that matters, and the brand equity is all those components of Peter was talking about. The product attributes are often the reasons to believe or substantiate a claim, but it's really quick consumers believe in their end benefits to the brand that does command that premium. The example, I mean our orientation.

When Peter and I work together on the triedent relaunched, we only looked at dollar share the market. Are Competitor at the time was going to the trade and always looking volume share and putting cheap products, very cheap products on the market market like twenty five cent packages of gum and things like that, where we invested in building the brand equity and we let our dollars share. And with the case like Trident, this brand had sunk in the mid s over the course of a year or two because our competitor had an amazing product that came into the market, Excel Gum, we sat down to about fifteen, sixteen percent dollar share and that was the called action. When Peter and I redesigned a product, packaging, communications, all the pieces, I mean the four peas and everything else around it, and launched it the next year try and return to a twenty four, twenty five percent share, which was incredible. I mean, you know school brand. We don't Muchin the tower like that, but that was orientation on. We were oriented on the value of the brand and backing that up with brand equity. Yeah, and you know, that's a great example of what we did, Scott and I that brand the only thing that remains and it was the brand name, because everything else had to be changed. And they give you look at every other P product, pricing, merchandising, promotion, distribution, everything was touched and you know, do scotts point. In this case, the brand equity was still there in people's minds and it was very valuable, but the product was disappointing almost every time because there were other things so in that was the CAABA and I think that that's a very important lesson for me of that time that I would like to share with the your audience. John. It is about understanding that equity and knowing that you have it, but at the same time knowing what people do expect, because there are some key category attributes that you if you...

...don't have them, even if the equity is very strong, they're going to come back and be the suppointed and leave and try something else. So these this really launch, I think, touched every single thing, so from formulation, packaging, packaging, design, display, distribution, focus, trade, every aspect, saw that people would find. Tried it in a way that they would fall in love with it even more. Say, you know, this is exactly what was missing. If it was a format, yes, we have it. If it was a flavor profile, yes we have it. You know, in the big departure from this way of thinking, from the past was that we were just launching incremental innovation. So now new flavor rotation, because COS at innovation has small eye innovation. We have limited releases of flavors like Cappuccino, which were ridiculous. Begone. Exactly, yeah, exactly, you know. Yeah, that's when you get to ideas of Cappuccino, which is completely opposite to what people expect. Right, I be people. One of the key carigory attributes of gum is bread freshening. I mean that's a that's something that you have to deliver no matter what, and if you go against that then obviously you're going to have a penalty. But the idea is that many brands very big brands can fall into the same trap even today, that if you just say it's this category is about your innovation, that's a false insight. It is about relevant innovation. That is the insight. The only insight that are valuable to the brand, in the consumer, in the market are those that you can actually call us relevant. Does this matter to me? And if it matters to me, US a consumer, it's going to matter to everything. If the just pure innovation, which is a false inside, is just something that happens, if I'm just going to renovate by adding one more flavor or one more size or one more whatever packaging, that is not true in Vatient and I think that moving from that into...

...really putting the ride in front of the mirror and say this is the idea that I give you in this is the actual product that I'm giving you. If there's a big gap, you have to talk to the gap. You have to actually make everything change, even if people have a hard time migrating that. And you know that's that is a very big point this day because with the standardization, if you have to make a big change in the production process or logistics in order to meet that, consumer is going to be a major thing internally. Yeah, that's great. I think it's that's that's really great. It's got Peter, thank you so much for your time. What a wonderful example of how to functional perspectives and marketing can come together to make better decisions and to improve brands, which is really important for all of us. Thank you for your time today, John. Thank you, it's a pleasure. Thanks for joining us. Be Sure to visit that's CMA does sea and sign up for a my cma account to stay connected to us and all the latest marketing news and industry trends.

In-Stream Audio Search

NEW

Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (31)